Lena Salmi "Nobody is a Star" Interview

^Photo by Päivi Tuovinen

Nobody is a Star interview series feature not the usual skateboarding "stars" but everyday skaters that inspire and contribute to skateboarding in their own way.

How and when did you get into skating?

I came into longboarding first. It was year 2011 and began to think how to reach our Olympic swimming stadium some kilometers away from my home. Thought that my lovely bike which was special-colored for me in The States would be stolen. So it came totally out of the blue that a longboard will fit in locker room. So it was such a pragmatic reason haha. Among my friends there weren't at all skaters but got immediately new friends in that lovely rolling sport.

^A cool wet-plate collodion photo of Lena by Ateljee Marko Rantanen

What's your involvement with the "Very Old Skateboarders" Facebook group, and how did that come about?

Me and Elisabeth Stuart attended women's longboard camp in Alsace, France 2014. We didn't like everything in that camp, I got a feeling that I was treated as an old woman. We decided with Elisabeth who is almost two years older than I to create a group which is open for all older skaters. And notice, there is no age limit for the members. It is enough if you ever have been told to be too old to do e. G. Skating. Only rule in that group is that no hate speech, just comment nicely or friendly and support the others.

How old are you?

Am 67 years of age, will turn 68 in June. This is just a pure fact but I think am a really old soul and I love it. Used to be the oldest skater here in Finland but have recently heard that we have some ex-ski jumper who is over 70years and also he began to skateboard as an elder person. When I told to little scooter boys that am not anymore the oldest one here in Finland, one Oskar immediately said to me borrow my scooter then you're the oldest scooter. Actually bought after this encounter own scooter.

Are you getting any positive or negative attention as an older skater? And how do you feel about it?

Among skaters have got only positive attention and comments. All skaters are so supportive to me. Everytime when am skating in a park there are always people who begin to talk to me regardless of their age. Don't know why but all young scooter kids come immediately to me and we'll talk about almost all. But I don't want to be treated just an older skater, want to be treated as a skater who is interested in improving her skills. And in wanting to learn new tricks everybody is so helpful. If I ask for some advice I always get nice answers.

^Photo by Päivi Tuovinen

What do you enjoy most about skateboarding?

Have said how skateboarding means every time Christmas to me. Every time when skating I learn new tricks, so I give me always Christmas gifts when skating. I skate willingly no-one is telling me what to do. It's all about my imagination what to do. Skateboarding increases your creativity and this is in my thinking the biggest thing in this awesome sport.

What are some of your favorite board graphics?

Of course that graphics in my signature board. Am the first women in Finland to get own signature deck. Finnish skateboard company Tikari asked me also to do its graphics. What an honor ! My only motive was that it is designed for children and childish people. No tits, snakes, skulls or weapons any more. It is already sold out and have got only lovely feedback. I paint quite often my own decks. The other one what I like is my tribute to tram number four in Helsinki. Drivers in that tram are so cute and thought that the shape of skateboard is so made for tram or train. I also do graffiti and will not bomb any train so I decided to paint a bombed tram in my deck.

^Lena's tram number four graphic for Tikari Skateboards

^The original skateboard graphic drawing by Lena

^And the finished version that was sold by Tikari Skateboards

What else are you into besides skateboarding?

When I began to skateboard I began to see my hometown Helsinki, the capital of Finland, totally in different eyes, began to notice graffiti. Had thought that this scene is nothing to me but slowly graffiti came into to me. This happened some years ago. Doing graffiti leaded me to draw also. As young I was competitive swimmer having some Finnish championships medals. Have began to swim goal-directed swimming again but not any more aiming at competitions just at so good technic as possible. During this f*** covid time began also to take contemporary dance lessons outside. Have done this now over one year and also during our winter outside. Never mind was it -21 degrees and a lot of snow… it is pure joy. Do also floor acrobatics and arm-standing, these disciplines are pretty good for my back. My perhaps biggest newest hobby is… hammer throwing. This sport is pure fun and at the same time somehow ballet  My lovely young coach was even as younger ballet dancer. Then I have a bigger work in progress, my PhD in which I research Sámi Sports.

What are some books and movies that you really like?

The book which never gets old is The Black Sheep and Other Fables by Guatemalan Augusto Monterroso. In that book is the best fairytale ever written: "when he awoke, the dinosaur was still here." This is something extraordinary. About movies; have seen some 12 times The Graduate. This needs no explanations. Do also like film-noir but not today's horror movies.

Who's an awesome person?

Elvis and Ali, Muhammad Ali.

^BBC Three's Amazing Humans spot on Lena Salmi

What do you wish was different in the world?

Am happy to live in Finland where we still have four seasons but winters are all the time being more and more mild. So my answer is that we have to stop climate change.

What do you wish was different in your life?

Nothing! Have done enough mistakes but these are my mistakes. Have learnt a lot of these. Of course am longing for a nice singing voice but have not. Anyway as a sport fan (ice hockey, basketball and football) I sing badly chants in stands among all the other bad singers and am not at all ashamed haha.

Any parting words/wisdom for skaters out there?

We ride till we die.


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