“It’s really satisfying to push yourself,” 14-year-old Charlotte Leluan says about skateboarding. As the first woman skater sponsored by Top of The World’s revamped Flow Team, a small group of very talented local skateboarders, Leluan’s in good company.
Leluan began skateboarding at age 11, and since then she’s been progressing at supersonic speed. Her only limits are those she places on herself.
After seeing a friend skating, Leluan became intrigued by skateboarding. Her parents purchased her a beginner board from Canadian Tire, but soon she required a real deck. On Mother’s Day 2018, she got that pro model, and her progression took off. Now, Leluan does daily strength and balance training to complement her rigorous practice routine, which includes riding the 16ft x 20ft mini-ramp her parents built in their backyard. “I train as often as possible,” she says. By her side from day one has been coach and mentor Jean-Philippe Roy.
Leluan’s skills were quickly noticed by Top of the World owner Eric Dionne: “Her style is really what caught our eye. Such good flow for such a young age. On top of being just a really great personality, she fit in with our staff and riders right away. We can’t wait to see what she can do over the next couple years. Charlotte is such a great kid.”
When Dionne presented her with a sponsorship offer, Leluan said: “I accepted right away! I was so surprised that I didn’t know what to say! But I feel really lucky and I’m more than happy to have the support of Top.”
That sponsorship includes a one-year Flow membership that offers “a discount and monthly packages to allow them to progress and not have to worry about buying equipment that they need at full price, access to our social media channels so we/they can promote their clips/video parts, and a little bit of a travel budget and entry to contests,” said Dionne.
Leluan spends countless hours perfecting existing tricks and expanding her trick library at Gatineau skate spots like Central and Old Hull, and Ottawa favourites such as Charlie Bowins Skatepark (Charlie) and The Yard Ottawa. She skates everywhere, even during the wintertime: “I really liked the pilot project [that Birling initiated] at the Aberdeen Pavilion this winter and I hope it will continue next year.”
Her never-ending determination and supreme work ethic are noticed wherever she goes. I watched her skate at Charlie and saw firsthand how experienced, seasoned skaters always stopped to watch her every time she was on the park floor. Indeed, they were so impressed that they all cheered when she tried her tricks and shouted even louder after she landed them. Everyone could see her confidence, those smooth movements, that never-give-up attitude, the extreme patience, and how friendly and polite she is. While Leluan “looks up to the good skaters” at Charlie as role models, it was clear that they look up to her, too. Soon, new skaters will be following her every move when Leluan begins coaching other kids this summer.
What is skateboarding to Leluan? “It makes me unplug and relax. I like the fact that I meet a lot of people who have the same passion as me. The community is very diverse and very supportive. I’m pretty shy in general and I feel very comfortable skateboarding in Ottawa. I’ve met a lot of great people, and every time I go skating somewhere I get a lot of encouragement and advice.”
Always thinking ahead to what’s next, Leluan has a long list of new tricks to learn—plus a plan to get there. Humble, but full of energy and drive, she’s an impressive skater with many leadership qualities. She offers some wise words to girl skaters: “The key to success in skateboarding is practice and perseverance. Don’t be shy about asking for help or advice. The first kickflip is most satisfying and anything is possible in this medium, even for a girl. Go for it and do what you love!”
Follow Charlotte Leluan on Instagram at @chalo_sk8.