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Not Seeing Women Represented In Extreme Sports, This Colombiana Skater Created An All-Girl Collective In Bogotá

At Bogotá’s Fontanar Skate Park, the largest in the Colombian capital, 22-year-old Valentina Díaz dives into the concrete bowl, glides along the smooth floors and walls off what appears as a massive, dried up pool. Amid the crowds of young men dressed in jeans and baggy shirts that sit on the sidelines and wait for their turn, Díaz stands out: Instead of the usual streetwear, she skates in a black miniskirt and matching leather jacket, paired with Vans, tube socks and a crushed velvet halter top.

Díaz is the co-founder of Sobre Ruedas Girls, an all-female collective that only 10 years ago wouldn’t have existed in Colombia. Women-only crews activated in 2014 to defeat the popular notion that skateboarding is a male sport. Despite the extreme sport’s meteoric rise in popularity in recent years, entrenched gender norms stand in the way of women claiming their rightful place in the national skateboarding scene.

Sobre Ruedas Girls is challenging these notions by supporting women’s advancement and equality in the realm of extreme sports. In 2017, Díaz started Sobre Ruedas Girls as an online platform where she could upload short videos of her friends’ skate tricks to social media — a much-needed representation of female talent in a media landscape devoid of it. Since then, the collective has amplified its work to include women’s-only competitions and workshops as well.

(Photo Credit: Christina Noriega)

Still, the act of introducing more women into the sport alone in Colombia is an uphill battle. Skateboarding in the South American country is more popular than ever before: athletes bring home medals from international competitions, attract the sponsorship of big-name brands and help lead the construction on a growing number of skateparks in the country — a few of which are on course to become some of the largest in Latin America. Yet, machista attitudes prevalent in Colombia are keeping women out of the extreme sports world.

Male skateboarders scrutinize female newcomers to the sport more critically than their counterparts on the basis of their gender, says Díaz. Women experience harassment because of their looks, clothes and skill level, which can lead these female novices to feel unwelcome in predominantly male skateparks and, eventually, abandon the sport.

“It affected me a lot, because I would go to a skatepark and there would be a majority of men and a minority of women,” Díaz says, who now mostly skates with women. “And what would happen? They would treat you badly, they would throw their board at you or they wouldn’t care if they crashed into you or not.”

(Photo Credit: Sobre Ruedas Girls / Gaffphoto,VIGASKATEPARK / CorpoEVG Extremo.)

While Díaz says attitudes toward women are changing thanks to a rise in the number of women skaters, female representation in the scene remains underwhelming. Women make up only five percent of the estimated 20,000 skaters in Colombia, according to Corporación EVG, an organization that promotes extreme sports in the country and supports women’s skate initiatives.

A countermeasure for the gender-based discrimination female skaters face could be women-only spaces, one study says. In contrast to traditional areas, where men make up the majority, women-only spaces recognize and reward female skaters’ social dispositions, thus making them “empowering” and “positive” to them.

Sebastián Montoya, director of Corporación EVG, argues something similar: To develop a more inclusive future in the extreme sports realm, we need more events, designed by and for female skaters. He explains that women may expect events that are less competitive and more conducive to learning and having fun.

“Sometimes, women don’t want to compete,” Montoya says. “They simply want to hang out, be with their friends, have a good time and be relaxed, without the pressures of a competition or an audience.”

(Photo Credit: Sobre Ruedas Girls / Gaffphoto,VIGASKATEPARK / CorpoEVG Extremo.)

Here, Sobre Ruedas Girls’ competitions fulfill several needs of Bogotá’s female skate community. Díaz explains that when she first came up with the idea to hold women’s-only competitions, she really wanted to provide high-performing skaters with the equipment they needed.

“I started realizing that my female friends were missing a new deck or wheels,” Díaz says. “I would think, ‘This can’t be. She’s incredible, but she doesn’t have anything to ride with.’”

At this moment, she teamed with Valentina Venegas, a student in business administration, and Paola Franco, a graphic designer, to organize women’s-only competitions that would reward female skaters of all skill levels. The efforts paid off: Brands offer their sponsorship to pay for awards, while these competitions can expect anywhere from 35 to 70 female skaters to participate.  

But, perhaps most importantly, the collective’s competitions and workshops offer women the opportunity to meet and bond with other female skaters as well as find motivation from more experienced riders. Díaz knows more than anyone else that visibility of female proboarders can have a lifelong impact. When Díaz was 14 years old, living in a rural town known more for llaneros, or cowboys, than extreme sports, she saw skateboarder Daniella Pisarella in action. This was the first time she witnessed a female skateboarder, and in that moment she decided that if Pisarella could be skater, so could she.

(Photo Credit: Sobre Ruedas Girls / Gaffphoto,VIGASKATEPARK / CorpoEVG Extremo.)

Similarly, Katheryn Sabogal, a 20-year-old novice skateboarder, sees women’s-only events as spaces where women can learn from each other with little concern for one’s skill level and free of the harassment women may experience in some situations with male skaters.

“I liked seeing so many women that skate and that do it well,” Sobogal says. “I also liked seeing women like me, who are learning, work hard and have lots of dedication. It’s really motivating to see other girls that share the same passion as you.”

Read: Here’s How This Latina Broke Through Barriers To Become A Leading Force In The World Of NASCAR Auto Racing

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Netflix Is Turning Gabriel García Márquez’s Classic ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ Into A Series


Netflix Is Turning Gabriel García Márquez’s Classic ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ Into A Series

Fans of magical realism rejoice. On Wednesday, Netflix announced it acquired the rights to Gabriel García Márquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude” and will be turning the literary masterpiece into a Spanish-language series.

This is the first time the 1967 novel, considered “one of the most significant works of the 20th Century,” will be adapted for screen. For years, the author, who died in 2014, refused to sell the film rights, believing the story could not be done justice through a two-hour project, according to Deadline.

Rodrigo Garcia and Gonzalo García Barcha, García Márquez’s sons, who are serving as executive producers on the show, believe a series is an appropriate approach to the book.

“For decades, our father was reluctant to sell the film rights to Cien Años de Soledad. He believed that it could not be made under the time constraints of a feature film, or that producing it in a language other than Spanish would not do it justice,” Rodrigo Garcia told BuzzFeed News, adding that the “current golden age of series,” with “the level of talented writing and directing, the cinematic quality of content,” changed the family’s mind.

“The time could not be better to bring an adaptation to the extraordinary global viewership that Netflix provides,” he continued.

The series will be filmed in Colombia.

“One Hundred Years of Solitude” tells the story of the multi-generational Buendia family, whose patriarch Jose Arcadio Buendia founded Macondo, a fictional town in the South American country.

The book has sold more than 50 million copies and has been translated into 46 languages.

In a statement, Francisco Ramos, Netflix’s vice president of Spanish-language content, said, “We know our members around the world love watching Spanish-language films and series and we feel this will be a perfect match of project and our platform.”

He’s right. Since announcing the adaptation, fans of the magical realism novel have been celebrating the news.

There’s no word yet on when the series will debut and who will star in it.

Read: This Film About Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Is At The Center Of The Most Expensive Sundance Documentary Deal Of All Time

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Up Next: Rombai Is Ushering In The Return Of Latin Pop Bands


Up Next: Rombai Is Ushering In The Return Of Latin Pop Bands

Up Next is a FIERCE series highlighting rising Latina and Latin American women artists you might not know about but definitely should.

If you’ve been waiting for the return of Latin pop bands, let me introduce you to Rombai.

Originally formed in 2013, the vivacious cumbia group, known for bringing Gen-Z fun and flair to the classic genre, went through a series of changes in members before breaking out again last year. After an international social media contest to find two new members, Uruguayan band leader Fer Vazquez is now accompanied by Bolivian Megumy “Megu” Bowles and Colombian Valeriana “Vale” Emiliani, and the three have been cooking up poppy bops that blend the ritmos and sabor of their homelands.

“We believe we are totally different from what is in the market,” Megu told FIERCE. “I think we are all very open-minded to new sounds and are not afraid to experiment,” Vale added.

The band’s first single “Me Voy,” a candied, mid-tempo song about leaving a toxic relationship, proves that Megu’s sensual vox and Vale’s honey-sweet hooks are the perfect mix for Fer’s own charming vocals. The hit already has more than 63 million views on YouTube, and international fans, many attending Rombai’s introductory Latin American tour last year, are hungry for more.

We chatted with the ladies of Rombai about what life has been like since joining the rising band last year, what they each bring to the group, the fun and learning that comes with being an international trio and what’s in store for the group this year.

FIERCE: Rombai formed in 2013. But, since then, there have been a lot of changes. You two joined the group most recently. When and how were you both brought into Rombai?

@rombai / Instagram

Rombai: We entered Rombai through a casting that was done on Instagram this past 2018. Sony Music and Walter Kolm, the manager of Rombai, did this in order to find the new members of Rombai. Girls from all over the world uploaded covers with the hashtag #Rombai2018. Thank God, we were selected and now we are here fulfilling our dream.

FIERCE: What do you think you bring to Rombai that’s fresh and exciting?

@rombai / Instagram

Megu: Much of my culture and flavor, and I hear that I also bring a lot of sensuality.

Vale: Flavor and diversity. Everything about us, even our accents, are totally different.

FIERCE: Absolutely! As you said, what’s great now is that there is a blend of cultures. Vale is Colombian, Megu is Bolivian and Fer is Uruguayan. What do you think this brings to Rombai’s style?

@rombai / Instagram

Megu: We believe we are totally different from what is in the market. I am from Bolivia, but I have been in the US for many years. So I love R&B, I love a lot of Anglo music.

Vale: I love our music, Latino genres, tropical sounds, African rhythms, reggae, and if we combine this with all the years of experience Fer has with cumbia, look at the beautiful mix we get.

FIERCE: How do you think these different styles influence Rombai’s cumbia-pop sound?

@rombai / Instagram

Megu: I believe that each one of us brings our own flavor, and it’s from our cultures. We are very different, but at the same time, we are very similar. Sometimes, it is amazing to see how different and similar we can be. I am definitely the most “gringa,” but we like that because I bring new music ideas like R&B that they love.

Vale: I grew up listening to a lot of African rhythms, Colombian porro, cumbia. I think we are all very open-minded to new sounds and are not afraid to experiment.

FIERCE: What’s cool about being in a group, especially one with men and women, is that you can share different perspectives in one song. We see this in one of your first singles together “Me Voy.” How do you ensure everyone’s voices and perspectives are included in a way that still flows musically when you’re songwriting?

@rombai / Instagram

Rombai: It is a double-edged sword. Whenever we write, we think of the three. It is good to have three people, but sometimes it is also difficult. The good thing is that we know our voices, so we know what parts are left to each one before we enter the studio to record. Above all, communication is important. In Rombai, you can not miss that.

FIERCE: In the chorus for “Me Voy,” which you both sing, you say, “Me voy acostumbrando a estar sola / Así estoy mejor, así estoy mejor.” What are some things you are able to do alone that you might not be able to do when you are in a relationship?

@rombai / Instagram

Megu: It’s a big difference to be in a relationship versus being single. It also depends on the person you are with. For example, now that we are traveling a lot, it is very difficult to have a relationship. I wouldn’t be able to hang out and party with friends, and I do not like having to give explanations. Right now, I’m happy single.

Vale: When you are single, you can do many more things without giving explanations. But I really think that the song speaks of a toxic relationship, one that’s not well, one where both partners are tired of hurting each other and prefer to be alone.

FIERCE: Totally! And it’s important to make that distinction. You all just had your first promotion tour in Latin America, going to Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Peru and Colombia. What was that like?

@rombai / Instagram

Megu: Honestly, it was incredible. I returned to my country after seven years of not having stepped foot on my land, and I returned fulfilling my dream. I am very proud of myself. It was so great to learn different cultures. There were times that I couldn’t even believe it.

Vale: For me, it was very exciting. I did not know any of these countries, yet I could feel the love of all the fans that were already part of Rombai years ago. Just the fact that I’m working in the music industry and traveling and meeting so many people, I am really fulfilling my dream.

FIERCE: I know you all were working on a lot of music last year. What can you tell us is in store for Rombai in 2019?

@rombai / Instagram

Megu: UFF! Truthfully, there’s a lot of celebration and joy to come. We want to incorporate new sounds, but, above all, have fun, that’ll always be a part of Rombai.

Vale: It’s important for us to never lose our essence, what makes us different, and continue to cover new countries. We continue to search every day for new sounds for all our fans.

FIERCE: You are both so young, at the start of your careers, what do you hope people can say about Rombai in about 10 to 15 years?

@rombai / Instagram

Megu: What I would like you to say about Rombai is, “Wow, Rombai broke it! What young fighters, who worked so hard to bring their music to different countries.” Also, “what beautiful women and what a sexy man!” Haha!

Vale: That they’re a band that made a difference, left a nice message and brought cumbia to international recognition! There’s still a lot left to do.

Read: Up Next: Meet MyVerse, The Latina Battle Rapper Dominating The Wild N’ Out Stage

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