Name: Franziska Stolz
Location: Basel, Switzerland
Occupation: Cleaner, pro skateboarder, beanie-knitter
As a child in Mosnange, Switzerland, Franiska Stolz’s mom used to have to drive a half an hour simply to get food from the store. Growing up in a town of 700 people, no one could have ever predicted that Franziska would rise through the ranks to become an internationally-acclaimed professional skateboarder.
As an adventurous youth in boarding school, Franziska took up snowboarding as a hobby and instantly became hooked. It was only after falling in love with shredding the slopes that she decided she needed a similar pastime that she could indulge in all year round. That’s when she discovered skateboarding.
“In 1995, there was a workshop for people new to skateboarding and in-line skating at a skateshop. It was a bit easier for me to try skateboarding that evening because I wasn’t the only girl or the only beginner. That night I learned how to do an ollie, which is an important basic trick,” she recalls. After only three hours, Franziska could do an ollie that was a half-foot high. “I was so stoked!” she exclaims.
But because she didn’t own a board, and because the streets where she lived weren’t skateable, she had to put her four-wheeled dreams on hold. A year later she moved to Thun, Switzerland for a new job. It was there that she discovered an indoor skatepark with a miniramp, a small vert ramp (an extreme form of a half-pipe), and a streetpark. She bought a skateboard and joined a circle of skaters who welcomed her with open arms.
These days, she practices and works one day a week at Skatepark Pumpwerk, where she hones her skills on the vert ramp as often as possible. And she’s happy to put in the time, especially since she competed in last year’s International Skateboarding Federation World Championships in Boston. She competes as often as she can, and over the past nine years she’s built up an impressive resume of vert ramp sessions, World Cup contests, and skate festival appearances. As the only European woman competing in vert-skating at the World Cup level, she’s quick to point out that being a professional doesn’t come with a rockstar lifestyle.
“I’m living in a very small rented apartment, I don’t have a car or a driver’s license, and I’ve had to pay for everything myself: traveling, accommodations, the starting fee at all contests,” she explains. But that hasn’t slowed her proverbial roll. This past fall Franziska started being sponsored by Santa Monica Airlines Skateboards, a company founded by Skip Engblom of Dogtown and Z-Boys fame. Her next contest is in Malmö, Sweden in January, and she’s extremely grateful that her sponsor will alleviate some of the financial pressure that comes with competing.
Over the past fourteen years of skating, Franziska is happy to report that she’s only had two major bang-ups: a serious concussion and broken nose the day before the Slam City Jam World Cup in 2004, and a torn ligament in her right knee during a hand-plant attempt in 2008. Even with these scrapes, Franziska refuses to let anything stop her.
“I want to get a vocational education next summer, maybe in another country, but there needs to be a good vert ramp in town. I want to get better and learn new tricks, but it’s hard to do that here since I feel like I’m stuck at the level that I’ve been at for a long time. It would be amazing for me to learn some new skills in a new country where I can also skate on a decent vert ramp, but I don’t know if that’s possible,” she says. “I hope so!”
When she’s on the train, Franziska knits beanies, i-Phone cases, and other knicknacks that can be scoped at her online shop. And if you’re looking for some ‘boarding badassery, you can check out her personal sites www.vertskatefranzi.blogspot.com, www.franziskastolz.de.tl or that of her sponsor, www.smaskateboards.com.
For being unafraid of breaking skateboarding boundaries, we think that Franziska Stolz is a super Cool Girl!