Bryce Wettstein started a new dream board in her bedroom a few years ago, just before starting high school, with help from her little sister Summer daring her to dream big in the lead up to skateboarding’s Olympic debut in Tokyo. She began pinning her favorite inspirational quotes into the corkboard alongside photos of some of her heroes: Jane Goodall, Rodney Mullen, Oski Rozenberg, Patti McGee in her iconic skateboard handstand pose clipped from the cover of a 1965 issue of Life Magazine. There’s a photo of Bryce and Summer holding each other close, and photos of dream destinations around the world, including Tokyo.
In October of 2019, she astounded herself by winning the national championship and finishing the year as the top-ranked American in Women’s Skateboard Park; she proudly wore her red and blue Team USA jacket on the video chat for this interview. She’s 16 now, just finishing her sophomore year at San Dieguito Academy in Encinitas, California, and still getting used to the idea that people want to interview her because she’s a current star in American skateboarding. With the 2020 contest season on pause and the Olympics postponed for a year, she’s taking the opportunity to pin some new hopes to her dream board.
Can you tell me a little bit about this dream board?
It’s like a little replica of my brain and what goes on in there, little stories, sayings I really believe in and love, some of my favorite people, places I’d like to visit. The more you hold onto dreams and really believe in them, they can come true. There’s this one picture I love, a silhouette of somebody holding up a sign that says ‘Inspire,’ and where the letters were cut out from the sign they’ve turned into birds, flying away.
A lot of your dreams have been coming true, right? I mean, 2019 was a very big year for you.
Honestly, I was completely stunned because I never would have thought things would pan out that way. At Dew Tour, we were all like, “Whoa, this is the first Olympic qualifier!” Even though it’s a big contest, Dew Tour has always had this beautiful, lighthearted vibe. To me, it’s just a fun Long Beach thing where everyone from the world comes over to play. That was super fun to choreograph a dream run there, land it, and go through the qualifiers and the final just landing runs and staying on my board. I’m so grateful for that because it was such a great start to the whole process. Then winning the national championships at CATF was truly a dream come true. I couldn’t believe I won. I feel like that contest brought the best out in a lot of the girls because we all train there, so it didn’t even feel like a contest. My mom was watching and we were just hugging and having fun.
Where was your head at coming into 2020 after everything you accomplished last year, before everything got put on pause?
I feel like once I get on a little bit of a roll, some of the pressure actually comes off a little bit. I get going and I start to feel one with my board. It’s like you’ve developed this connection, and suddenly there are limitless possibilities because the passion is just exploding out of you. I feel like some of my success last year was because there was that much more exhilaration. All that adrenaline kicks in and envelopes you and you feel like that’s where you want to be. Contests can definitely be a big rush!
All of your friends are there, everyone’s pushing each other, the crowd’s going wild, the stoke levels get really high. There’s not a lot of things in the world that can compare to that.
I do miss the contests, a lot! There’s such an increase in energy level when you’re traveling around the world and with all your best friends for all these new experiences and all the little surprises that jump out at you, because that’s just the way frequency and energy is. I totally feel what you’re saying. The dream is just delayed a little bit. It’s developing if anything.
How are you and your family doing through all of this?
We’re doing good. It’s been a lot of adapting and acclimating. We still are blessed to have each other! I’m finding new activities now, diving deep into my bookshelves, doing some yoga and running, writing music, bonding with my family. More than anything, I’m grateful for them, especially now. Before we fall asleep we’ll always do something together, like a family game night or watching a movie. We know each other so well, and there’s so many connections that run deep between us, especially between my mom and I because she’s been by my side for all my travels and new adventures. We’ve been using this time to reflect on all those adventures because everything had been happening so quick last year! It’s almost like the world is trying to reset, a reminder that the world doesn’t always have to spin so fast. With this time together my sister and I have also united so much. I’ve been getting to know her so much more now than I would have if we were both in school or if the contest season were already underway.
What’s on your mind as you look ahead to the rescheduled Dew Tour in September and to the Olympics in 2021?
This quarantine almost provides an opportunity, not to lose focus but to redirect focus in different little ways, light up the little crevices you haven’t seen before. I’ve been making a little skate map of things I want to accomplish, tricks I want to learn, how I want the tricks to flow into each other. I guess you could say I’ve been focusing on not losing focus, becoming more aware of the focus but also allowing myself to mix up some different ideas.
Have you been skating much?
I’m definitely skating. I have a nine-foot vert ramp and this little wooden bowl I call the Iguana Bowl, and I see my ramps in different ways than I would have now that I’m not getting out to the skateparks. Not that I wasn’t grateful for them before, but I’m so much more grateful to be able to have a space to skate in my backyard now that this quarantine is on. I’ve been using this time and space to try weird little trick combinations, new things that I probably wouldn’t have taken time to think about if I was not in quarantine, just trying to be a little more innovative.
When they first announced skateboarding was going to be in the Olympics I think a lot of people assumed a bunch of people from California would dominate it. But in the last year, it’s really been dominated by the Japanese skaters. You’re the top ranked American but you’re 8th overall in the World Skate rankings.
All these girls across the world are proof that the culture of skateboarding is really widespread, and that’s influencing the love and passion that we all have for it. Seeing all of them doing so well does nothing more than inspire all of us to chase after our dreams. We’re all following each other’s dots and paths, and we’re all in it together. We’re all pushing each other. Seeing Misugu doing these incredible 540s and seeing Poppy grabbing so much speed doing her gap-to-boardslides. We see that and it only makes us want to follow our ideas even more to see what we’re capable of.
What do you hope girls around the world take away from seeing skateboarding happen at the Olympics?
Skateboarding combines art and athleticism to create something beautiful. I would want girls all around the world watching the Olympics or any of these other contests to see that and to be inspired by it to allow themselves to dream and explore their own curiosities. When you follow your passion, whether it’s skateboarding or anything else, you get to be on this magic carpet ride through ups and downs, going through the process of learning and developing who you are. And that’s life. For myself, I hope to take away from everything ahead the most joy that I’ve ever had. Regardless of the pressure or the outcome, I just really want to have fun with what I’m doing and create as many new experiences as possible.
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