Manon Derrien is at some might consider the best age for a budding pro rollerblader, the gentle age of 24 when your body can still take the slams and recover easily, and you’re eager to see the world, travel and have the patience to share a room with people you might have never met before. And she’s a girl, obviously. And being a girl in action sports is not easy. Imagine being surrounded by barely-out-of-puberty boys, hormones galore, always trying to prove themselves, and eyeing you at the same time for being a girl. Not easy. Well, this was supposed to be an interview about that and Manon’s exceptional track record as a competitive skater, but it kind of veered off in another, more relaxed direction.
Do you remember why did you start skating? What made you put on a pair of rollerblades for the first time?
I wanted to do the same as my friends, they brought me to the old skatepark in Bordeaux and I dropped for the first time a mini ramp. But then I just watched them. The first time I saw a girl skate, I said to myself that girl can do it as well!
You’re from beautiful Bordeaux, the sunny south of France right? Is that where you started to skate? What was it like to grow up there? Was there a big rollerblading scene?
I started to skate in Bordeaux that’s right, I love my city so much! I like the way you can disorient yourself easily, it’s not far away from the ocean and the weather is pretty good, for me it’s one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever been to. When I started, there was a quit big scene and a lot of street skaters and then a big skatepark has been built and then, like me, a lot of new skaters started.
Did you grow up skating with anyone?
Almost all my friends who I started skating with are still skating, so yeah I kind of grew up with them!
Does your family support your skating?
Oh yes, they do! At the beginning it was hard cause I injured myself a lot, but since then, they realized it’s important to me, to my life and that’s why I am what I am today! Yes, they support me a lot!
Since you started riding for SEBA you’ve really been traveling around. We’ve seen you all over the world. Then before that we always were seeing you traveling around France making it to every FISE, winning a lot of them, and doing other shows and contests. Can you remember an event or contest that was your favorite moment or a great experience you can remember during your travels?
One of the best memories was probably my trip to Mexico with my teammates from SEBA. The people there were so kind and welcoming! Traveling made me realize a lot of things.
Do you have a travel buddy?
Hmmm probably Antony Pottier, he motivated me a lot when we are skating together and he’s a great guy to travel with.
What do you prefer to skate? street or skate park?
Since I love perfect spots, I prefer skatepark or perfect street spots!
Whats your favorite skatepark?
From your perspective, how is the “bladies” or the “girl side” of the industry going? It appears that over the last few year the ladies have grown into a big of community. It also seems like more and more events are having BIGGER Bladies’ events like now. Do you feel like its growing or getting smaller?
When I started to skate we were only a few girls to travel and to participate in competitions and sometimes we had to skate with boys. But now, it has changed a lot. Almost all competitions have at least one girl category. At the Winterclash this year there were 27 of us. That’s why I’m trying to figure it out with organizations to do two categories for girls (or at least propose it) to encourage the younger or the beginners to participate as well and make “Pro” and “Am” categories.
The fact that companies, shops, etc. think about us a lot now is a great thing cause that’s our visibility which will help us to grow more and more.
Can you give us your perspective on what its like to be a girl in this super “boy/male” industry?
There are two sides I think, one side is hard cause you have to enjoy being with guys but on the other side it’s easier cause you are an exception! So the public will see you more and guys will come and help you!! It’s like being a mascot haha
When you compare the girls blading scene to the guys, what do you see as the important differences? Are there any? W
I see the girls blading scene as a big community. We all want to become more and more. And also, I see the girls competition as a big and motivating session between friends. Girls are starting to skate pretty hard those years and that’s pushing all of us!
Your a big role model to many young girls in the world. The bladies scene in South America is large and definitely growing, everyone i met there seemed to say that you were their favorite skater! “Que stylo” “What style” “Manon has the best style”. Do you have any advice to give to the young girls reading this trying to understand the industry and trying to make a name for themselves? Any tips from Manon when things get hard and the world seems sad, what do you do?
Pretty surprising to think people at the other side of the world likes the way you skate! Well, I never thought I would be here when I started but I always did what I liked the most. I mean, I just skate for my happiness and with my heart. I never wanted to be the most something or whatever, just being myself on my skates.
I love showing that our sports can be artistic, graceful and beautiful!
You have arguably the best sweatstance in the game… either you or Erik Bailey… Is sweatstance your favorite trick? If not, what’s your favorite trick?
Aha well even if I’m trying to do other tricks, the sweatstance is for me the trick which gives me the best feeling. If I listen to myself, I could do sweastance everywhere and as many times as possible! And it’s crazy that almost all girls love to do it too!
When your not skating, what do you like to do with you free time?
Since March, I started to work as a mechanical engineer, so it takes me some time. Otherwise, I enjoy being outside, spending time with my friends and family, etc.
Do you party? or are you more chill?
I’m not a girl who parties a lot, I prefer chilling, just enjoying the day!
When you were younger who was your idol or favorite skater?
It was definitely Billy O’Neill!
Are you excited for the Blading Camp in Malaga? It’s an ALL girls Bladies camp is that right?
I’m so excited about it! Being for girls ONLY is great and to skate all together is gonna be awesome! Glad that BladingCamp thought about us, I’m sure we will have the best of times! And also, since it’s like holidays, there is no pressure to compete or whatever, it’s just gonna be fun and chill! I can’t wait to be there!
Do you think this is a good thing for the Bladies or a bad thing? Who else is joining you?
It’s definitely a good thing, we will get closer and share a lot of things! One of the things I love the most about my skating life is the social side, you meet so many great people, it’s just about sharing, love and having fun! Mery and i will be hosting the Camp but as well we will have many great girls like Gratzyna, Rosie, Melissa, Marta to name only a few!
Yes, SEBA Skates, Arcena brand, Pierre Qui Roule Shop, Frenchicks (French girls community) and Binocle Eyewear. I would like to thank them for everything they did for me!
Whoever you are, whatever idea you have that might help the girl scene to grow, please contact me i would love to do something together. Let’s talk, because visibility will only help us grow!