Vitória Mendonça on Heelflips, Homies and Hitting the Big Show
Vitória’s rise through the ranks wasn’t without its setbacks. Remember that KO that took her out off the Scramble? That was a serious setback. But as you know, the last time we talked to her, she was motivated to pick right back up. Finding her footing, she put out some of her best clips to date with an excellent pro debut video. To celebrate her promotion, she was raised high above the crowd at CPH Open, as they unveiled her first board. Homie Emanuele Barbier checks in with Element’s newest pro to talk about that day in Denmark, watching women skate from Internet cafes and her current push to broaden the boundaries of our beloved culture. Hell yeah, Vi!
Power, pop and a sample of spots you rarely see, Vitória's first video offering as a pro brings all the goods
Alright, let's hop right in—what’s your latest obsession?
I have been obsessed with front heel tails recently, but I haven’t figured out the timing yet. Everything needs to be so quick!
I can already see the style for this one. I haven’t seen you since Wheels of Fortune in Seattle. Can you tell me about some of your recent trips.
Yeah, that was crazy. What a time! Recently, I went to Portland before Copenhagen, then I went straight to London. Then Paris, Biarritz, Berlin and Lisbon before finally going back home to Brazil.
Casually traveling three continents in a month. Talking about CPH, you just turned pro! I finally got to tell you face to face. Congrats! What was it like?
Thank you, thank you. It couldn’t have been better. All my friends were there. My closest friends from Brazil, Vini, the THERE crew, Jeff, Rue, Maité and everyone. It was the best day of my life.
It ain't just a dream
I loved the Samba playing and everyone singing Vou Festejar. You brought Brazil to Copenhagen! Whose idea was it?
The guys at Element invited the Brazilian musicians and we started to sing one of my favorite songs. The vibes were so nice; it all felt incredible. The people at Element have such a good heart. They always think about us—about who we are as people, not just skaters.
I learned a few months ago but I didn’t know when it would happen. Jeff Cheung was asking me how I feel toward skateboarding and toward my friends. I said how I didn’t get all that is happening to me now by myself. Of course, I'm skating and it’s hard work, but so many people have been helping me get to where I am today. That’s why the graphic has so many hands. It represents the people who have helped me and continue to push me. Having Jeff do the graphic is so important to me. I admire him a lot. He does great things with his crew and for the community. I am beyond happy, honestly.
This is a big dream you’re achieving, turning pro for Element. What has been the reaction of your family and people back home?
It's funny because when I turned pro, I tried to call my mom. I was tearing up, showing her the board with my name on it, but she couldn’t hear me at all! It took her a long time to understand, but she was so happy and so was my big brother. My friends in Brazil were going crazy, sending me messages and calling me. I haven’t had the chance to sit down and process it yet. I need some time to realize, you know what I mean? I am pro—that’s crazy!
Big flip pivot, now that's crazy
Right?! You’re the second woman pro on Element after Vanessa Torres. I am curious which skaters have been inspiring you?
When I was growing up I didn't have access to a computer. I would go to these Internet cafes to watch skate videos and that’s how I started to see more girls skating. I watched We can do it eight years ago with Pipa Souza and Ligiane Xuxinha, who are friends of mine now. After that, I started seeing American videos and SLS recaps with Vanessa Torres, Marisa Dal Santo, Leo Baker and Alexis Sablone. You know Marisa, right? She is so sick! She was an inspiration, for sure. Most of my inspirations have been people close to me, though, because I admire people for who they are, not just their tricks. It makes more sense to me.
Absolutely! It also creates this support system nurturing your local scene. Though on a global scale, what does it mean to you, to create a new chapter for Element?
I'm happy and excited to do things with Element. I look forward to seeing more girls skating for them, too. I don't want to be the only girl pro for them. That also applies to other brands, too. I want to see more girls, Black girls and queer people turning pro.
Skating alongside The Gonz and multiple SOTYs, Vitória is aligned with an all-time cast in the new Abnormal Communication
Yes, 100 percent. And that starts with involving more people on bigger projects. You’re filming in Paris right now. Can you tell me some of the projects you’re working on?
I am finishing filming for Abnormal Communication. I also have some friends in Brazil working on a project I will be filming for. No big part this year, but stacking clips.
Steady stacking, front tail 270 shove
Who is your go-to filming crew?
In Brazil, I film with my friends, Gui Silva, Vini Costa, two filmers, Marcos de Souza and Luis Felipe and sometimes with Vitória Bortolo. It’s not a big crew, but that’s my crew. I like filming with a small crew because it can be stressful, especially when you’re trying a trick for two or three hours without stopping. Being in the zone and being around friends can be good, but hard. Though if I don’t have a deadline, I like to go on missions with a bigger crew.
Heelflip manny, take that to the bank
Since you're filming so much, is there a spot you really want to go to this summer?
Yeah, it’s in Rio. It’s called Plaza Mauá. It's full of ledges, gaps, stairs and the ground is so good, like the best ground. It's perfect.
On the topic of filming, your pro part dropped recently. Can you tell me your favorite trick in it?
My favorite trick is the opener, the bump-to-bar ollie. It was my first time skating a bump to bar and it’s so fucking high. I got there and thought, No way. I won’t stay here. I can’t do anything here. My friend Luis kept hyping me up. It took 30-40 minutes for me to even visualize it. I had to do a few jumps without my board. The ground was shit, too. I kept on falling on the run-up because it was just so crusty.
Fueled up to boost this bar hop
Sounds like a battle.
It was, and the security guard came to kick us out when I was almost landing. The spot was right in front of a restaurant, so we bought some food and they let us skate. We pretty much paid to skate there. It’s not the biggest trick on the video, but it was so hard and so fun for me. I learned my first bump to bar there.
That's crazy because it really doesn’t look like your first time. I love the line on the three ledges. It’s just so playful. You hit quite a few fun spots throughout the video. What kind of spots do you like skating most?
Ledges. I love ledges! Also ledges over stairs with a gap. It’s so scary but I love it. I love the process of pushing through your fear to land a trick.
I am surprised you didn’t answer bump to bar.
I want to skate more bump to bars, for sure. I need to work on my pop, though. I need more pop!
Up the ledge and over the rack, frontside heelflip
Is there anything you want to add, people you want to thank?
Yeah, I want to thank Denis from Recycle Skateboarding. When I was 12 years old, I met him through this social project and he went on to help me a lot. He had no money but he brought me and my mom to São Paulo for a contest. It was the first time I left Rio. For years, he paid for my trucks, my decks and everything. To remember him and the project when it was over, I got this tattoo that says, “Skate Ainda Constroí.” It means “Skateboarding is still being built.” It’s the opposite of “Skate and Destroy,” because he was trying to improve lives, to help people and he succeeded. He helped me and so many kids, so I want to particularly thank him.
This contrast between building and destroying is beautiful. You’re right, we are still building the spaces, the communities and the industry we are all part of. Thank you for playing a key part in that.
Whether it's building up the culture or tearing down the spot, we're rooting for her all the way. Ollie over and out Photo: Sarmento
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