Ozzie Ausband

Nora Vasconcellos


Massachusetts. January, 1999. The valley sleeps under a white blanket. Winter lays a heavy hand on the fields and rivers. The sun is pale and little warmth reaches those that live below. In the forest, deer raise their small brown faces, peering into the brush and then continue pawing at the frozen earth in search of food. A large rambling house is seen through the barren woods. It is lit with warmth from within. A young girl moves away from the cold glass windows and turns back toward her cereal bowl and the TV screen. Her name is Nora Vasconcellos and Nickelodeon is playing her favorite cartoon-Rocket Power. She loves the character -Reggie Rocket the most. Reggie is the only female skater on the show and she rips! Nora tried to envision herself flying around on a skateboard, pulling big airs and giving the guy skaters a run for their money! It wouldn’t be a futile dream. One day….   Nora was a surfer at heart but her home in Massachusetts kept her time in the water to a minimum. She started skating all around her hometown and eventually found herself at Rye Skate Park in New Hampshire. Her parents would drive her there so she could ride. On the two hour journey to the park, Nora would think over the things she wanted to learn. Once at the park, she saw the twelve foot vert ramp and was enthralled. It wouldn’t be long before she was dropping in and progression came naturally. Nora told me - “I saw the older guys riding there and I also watched Nolan Munroe skating. When they were doing airs and vertical tricks, I knew that I wanted to do exactly what they were doing.”


Nora began to compete periodically in contests and did fairly well. Soon, Nora would have an epiphany. Oregon. 2006. Nora and her family went to the Trifecta contest and it was her first opportunity to skate against other female riders. Nora related to me that- “Once I was there, I saw Julie Kinstrand and other girls simply ripping. They were skating super good. When I saw them doing tricks, I knew that it was possible for me as well. It woke me up and I knew that this was exactly what I wanted to do with myself.” The years since the Oregon Trifecta have been kind to Nora Vasconcellos. She was focused, goal-oriented and progressive. She competed in the Florida Bowl Riders, Dew Tour , X-Games and the Trifecta contests. At times, her family would travel with her for support. The Vasconcellos family are very driven and active. All of them love sailing, surfing, snowboarding and outdoor activities.


Her mother described watching Nora surf and skate in the beginning years. “Nora took to surfing and skateboarding pretty quickly. She fell in love with skateboarding. Her father actually found a few indoor skate parks and took her to them to ride.” I asked her mother if she had any fears over her daughter becoming a ‘skateboarder’ with its inherent risks and dangers. She readily answered- “Well, of course… but I was mainly concerned with the financial aspects at the time. The parks were far from the house, the equipment and things were expensive. It was difficult at times, because I didn’t want Nora to get into something that we couldn’t afford to keep going for her. We would try and get her to the contests because that just might be the one when she could obtain a sponsor or a contact that would help facilitate her continuing in the sport.” Nora and her family have always maintained a strong and trusting bond. Her mother told me that Nora has always used good judgement. Her mother added- “She always makes the right decision.”


In November, Nora came to California and competed in the Ladies Protec contest in the Combi Pool. She skated really well and many people were taken in by her cool style and fluid, powerful skating. She told me that she always thought of moving to California but after this  past trip in November, it started to become a continual thought that wouldn’t be ignored. She began planning and realized that her family was with her. Nora laughed in her own way. She told me - “My mom knew that I really wanted to come out to California. I wanted to surf, skate and go to college. She knows! One day she phoned me on her lunch break to tell me that she was willing to move to California with me to help me get established. I was elated.”


Since that time, Nora has focused on working, skating and planning for her move. Once in California, she hopes to learn 540’s and added that the Mega ramp is a consideration in her mind. I find it amazing how far she has come and how supportive her family is. With such a family and awesome female friends to rip alongside, Nora seems to be staring at a bright future. Nora would like to thank her supporters: Pioneers, Rye Airfield, Athletic Revolution, Bern, Converse, Welcome Skateboards, Bones, Nixon, 187 Pads and Independent.  This was originally written for the Skateboarder’s Journal and I thought it should be posted and enjoyed. Thank you for reading. Thank you to the Vasconcellos family and Scott Crivellaro for the images. Thank you MRZ for the Combi image. Support the ladies of skateboarding.- Ozzie