An Interview with Sasha Senior of Bliss Skateshop
— If you’re a skateboarder who has grown up with a local skateshop, you know how crucial they are to the scene....
Dedicated and passionate, Annie Guglia wants to share the joy of skateboarding with everyone. Despite a hectic travel schedule, she manages to stay involved in Montreal’s skate scene; putting on monthly women’s clinics in the city and supporting younger skaters in learning. Annie’s got a bright personality with a refreshing outlook on the upcoming Olympics, and she’s ready to go all in. Good luck! —Cat Moreau
Photos by Ryan Lebel
It looks like you’ve had a busy summer. How has it been?
It’s been a pretty crazy year. At the beginning of the year I rolled my ankle and tore two ligaments, so I wasn’t able to skate as much as I wanted, but I still did contests. I had almost one every month and at the end of summer, I had six in two months, so that was pretty crazy. Right now, I’m supposed to be in China but I decided not to go. I want to be able to enjoy the rest of summer and street skate a little bit, and rest also. Contests are fun but there are a lot of other things. My next contest is in Brazil in two weeks.
It must’ve been nice to have a lot of stuff going on in Montreal.
There were three contests back to back in Montreal: Vans Park Series, Jackalope, and the Empire Open. That’s really good for the Montreal skate scene. Everyone gets to hangout, see each other and skate together.That’s another reason why I decided not to go to China; because of Empire Open. I like skating contests in Montreal because there are a lot of kids that I know from my local park or skating in the street or giving skate lessons. All these kids can come and see me skate a big contest and they get super hyped. If I go to London for an event, I don’t think I’m inspiring as many people as when I’m in Montreal.
You’re not back to school then this fall, right?
I finished my Masters in Business Strategy in 2017. I’m so happy I did it and finished it. Doing it is not that hard, but finishing it is a whole other thing. Cause it could always be better, you know? Especially with a thesis, it’s never done until you decide it’s done. I think it’s the biggest challenge I’ve had in my life, finishing my thesis.
Congrats on that! Have you had any time to skate with the Meow Crew?
I’ve been skating with them but at events. The most I’ve hung out with them was in June back in LA. In LA it’s always easier to have everyone together. Not everyone is doing all the Olympic qualifiers and all these contests. I was able to have dinner with Vanessa (Torres), Amy (Caron), Lisa (Whitaker) and all these girls. I see Mariah (Duran) a lot because she’s doing the same contests as me, and also Keet (Oldenbeuving) from the Netherlands. I probably see those two the most and I get to see them all around the world. As far as going to LA for a fun trip just street skating like I used to do, it hasn’t been possible this year because I’ve just been doing too much other stuff. That’s what I like the most, just travelling and skating for fun. Right now, with all these contests, it’s hard to fit that in my schedule, but I mean it’s just hectic until 2020 for the Olympics and then it’s going to go back to normal. I want to take this opportunity that’s given to me right now, so I don’t mind doing that for a year.
How do you deal with the contest nerves?
I don’t get nervous the way I used to before skating contests. I’m actually really calm before contests and even during the contest. Because I’m more prepared. It’s like oral presentations in high school. If you do one a year, it’s the end of the world you get super stressed out, you forget everything you want to say. But if you speak in public a lot—and that can be to just five people—the more you get used to it. If I go somewhere and don’t know what I’m doing that doesn’t work for me. I have to prepare, not just my run but mentally. I also do meditation. That helps to keep my focus. Even if you’re skating a contest, you have to remember why you skate. You skate for fun. For the record, though, I do get nervous. Before Empire Open, I was so stressed out. I left Taz and went to Spin which is an hour drive. I went to Spin to skate for 30 minutes and had to remind myself to just have fun. At Taz, I was too stressed, practice was hectic cause the guys were there too so it was pretty crazy. Skating for fun got me in a good mood. Sometimes I just need that—to remember to feel good.
How’s your ankle now?
I was supposed to film a street part for Outlaw, my shop sponsor. The first day, back in April, five tries into the first trick at the first spot I rolled my front ankle. I knew immediately it was a bad roll. I thought I was out for the whole summer; I was so bummed. Immediately, I tried doing physiotherapy, acupuncture, and massages every day. The first month I was doing three hours of exercises for my ankle a day because I couldn’t do anything else. I used all the time that I usually skate to train my ankle. After three and a half months, I could kickflip again.Right now it’s getting better. I started street skating about two weeks ago. I’m being so patient with it. I’m pushing it to the very edge but as soon as it starts hurting I stop. So I’m listening to my body as much as I can. Which I think is the smartest thing I can do with it. You don’t want to pamper it, that’s not helpful at all for an injury.
What else do you get up to between the travelling and the contests?
When I don’t skate, I work. I work for Vans, and my title is Territory Marketing Coordinator. So this week I’m probably going to work. Even when I have contests I still have to work, but when I don’t, I use that time to work more. Also, JS Lapierre recommended a bunch of books to me, so when I got the money after Empire Open, I ordered those books off Amazon.
How do you balance the job with your skate schedule?
Honestly, it’s the best job I could hope for. When I finished my Masters I had to make a choice. I had to choose to either jump in to the whole Olympic process or get a job because I have a Master’s in Business Strategy. So I decided to take the skate path but at the same time I had to work because I didn’t have a way to make money. Vans has been my sponsor for over 10 years. Conor (Neeson) at Vans Canada was looking for someone to help him and asked me. That’s the best thing that could’ve happened at that exact moment. Vans absolutely knows that I have to travel and skate. If I didn’t have Vans I couldn’t do a fifth of what I’m doing right now. As far as travel budgets and giving me shoes and giving me a job, I’m really happy with the brand and my relationship with them.
You’ve mentioned the Olympics a bunch. Do you feel that people are treating skating and contests differently?
For now, it doesn’t change that much. It’s the same people doing contests anyway but there’s definitely more at stake. I think it is sick. The way I see it, it’s not going to change the essence of skateboarding. It’s just another contest that happens every four years. Some people will train; you know at one point we will see people doing triple flip back lips on lock—that’ll be a thing, but it’s not going to change what skateboarding is in the streets or in a backyard pool. You know what I mean? It’s just bringing more attention and more money to skateboarding and I don’t think there is anything wrong with that.
Yeah, it’s just another thing to talk about.
The way I see it, it’s just creating more opportunities for people that want to take that path. It’s not changing anything for anyone else. I don’t know if that’s the best way to argue about it but that’s what I have been seeing. A lot of people reach out to me and say things like, “Wow, my four-year-old saw you on TV and wants to start skating,” and to me that’s all positive. I haven’t seen any negative repercussions from this whole Olympic thing—yet. It’ll be another wave in the history of skateboarding. Might as well turn it into something positive.