Held up in her home state of New Mexico, Mariah Duran has maintained motivation despite these weird times as a result of COVID-19. Even though not spending more than six weeks at home last year, Duran is doing her best to make the most of every minute (and month) while she is stuck during these stay-at-home times.

So what is it that she is doing? A little bit of everything from various forms of exercise, virtual socializing, quality time with the family, picking up a paintbrush, and, of course, skating. She also just released her first-ever shoe with adidas!

Being busy is just the beginning, though, for Duran. Focus, routine, and real effort toward mentally strengthening herself with the help of some professional services made available by Team USA Skateboarding. Duran is also currently top-ranked American in the women’s World Skate rankings

Rather than let us ramble on about her strategies for success and recent achievements, read on below to hear her answer up for herself. Brace yourself, this is a big one.

Congratulations on your second year now on Team USA Skateboarding. What exactly does that mean for you? Is it an honor? A unique opportunity? Only a title? Or, has it become its own new part of your life?
It’s kind of like all of that but in bits and pieces. It’s a huge honor, for sure. I never thought I would be announced for the National team twice in a row. It is awesome being a part of a team, but it’s also a new mindset. 

Being on that creates a whole new mindset to progress yourself, in whichever way. It comes with bigger value than just a title. The title is, of course, amazing, but getting that title, the process is what is really important. I’ve learned to hold onto the process of earning that, and I feel that is where I feel most satisfied. 

Being a part of a team that I worked hard for. I went through a bunch of craziness, but I also progressed in my skating and as a person.

Do you get access to anything interesting by being on Team USA Skateboarding? Like, private skateparks or maybe a travel and training budget?
Before the whole world got isolated, right? Haha.

Before this whole thing got put on pause, for sure. We get access to a really dope trainer, Jess–shoutout Jess–she understands skateboarders and the culture of it. She is not a typical trainer. She understands what we put our bodies through, and wants to prevent injuries and recover from injuries.

We have access to that, we have access to a facility to train at out in L.A., which was really dope. We also get a small budget to help us travel.

But, now, that the whole isolation has happened we are still training. I train by Zoom calls on Tuesday and Friday with Jess. Some of the other team members join, as well, so it is nice to see their faces. We are constantly doing that.

We just got access to a mental coach, Karen. I have talked on calls with her about how I’ve been doing throughout this whole Isolation, and how to keep a good mindset. We are all currently involved in something crazy, but we are also working toward something like the Olympics. Being a part of the team has definitely helped me reach out to utilize resources.

Mariah Duran
Photo Credit: Ferra

It sounds like being on Team USA Skateboarding has really become a big part of your life over these past two years.
It’s crazy because I’m on the team with all of my friends, it’s just that now we are all working toward something bigger.

How about being in the media, has that increased for you more these past two years? Has there been a bit more business than usual around skateboarding?
Since I was announced to the team, I would say yes. Before I would do things for my sponsors, but now [skating on Team USA] is a new talking point that people want to hear about. I wouldn’t say it is extreme, but here and there. I’ve done a couple local things around New Mexico. 

People are curious. It is the first time skateboarding has been in the Olympics, and it has been an honor to be part of it.

What about Olympic skateboarding excites you? Is it just another event, or do you see it as the pinnacle of competition? What about the opportunity to turn people onto skateboarding, is that a factor for you?
Getting to the Olympics and being broadcasted on such a high platform is amazing, and introducing skateboarding to people that probably never thought twice about it is also a factor, too. But, I would say the biggest factor for me is just the process.

When you work for something, that is itself a big thing and you will come out with growth. When you put yourself in uncomfortable scenarios, constantly going to contest, contest, contest, and then traveling, traveling, traveling; you go through uncomfortable situations and comfortable situations, but you come out a better person because of the growth.

The main thing that pushes me to work in order to be skating in the Olympics, I know that I will come out of it as a better person and a better skater. The process is what keeps me pushing. 

Skateboarding is so big that you don’t really have to do contests in order to be respected in the skate industry. To do both, street skate and film video parts while also doing contests and work for something, it sounds like a lot on my plate–and it is, for sure–but I think through the process from last year I have already grown so much.

What about the way you skate; does the idea of wanting an Olympic medal make you think of different goals for your competition skating? I heard you say on Dew Tour Live last week that you have a mantra of sorts from Manny Santiago along the lines, “you are only skating against your own tricks, not the other skaters.”
Yeah, Manny taught me that! He has mentored me, and remembering that is key. What I’ve learned is that you get out what you put in. Manny is always at the contests and has a positive vibe.

There are a lot of emotions that go through contests. Yeah, you are technically competing against the person next to you–you are trying to do better than them–but what Manny helped me realize is that it is actually you versus your trick. How are you supposed to do good if you don’t land your trick? You have to do your part, pretty much.

So, I’d say the way I prepare for contests is mostly mental preparation. I just have to skate confidently. 

Going into a contest I do have to adapt to new courses to best translate my unique, select amount of tricks, but then I work on getting consistent and comfortable with them. The one thing that I do is train for consistency, but consistency and confidence go hand-in-hand. You can have a trick consistently in the skatepark, but do you have the confidence to do it under pressure? 

It’s more mental than physical. You have all the tricks, it’s just about having the confidence to execute them.

“There are some things you can control, and there are some things you can’t. It is the same thing in skate contests, so I’ve been trying to put that mindset into my daily life.” — Mariah Duran

Do you think much about overall contest rankings? You are currently sitting as the top-ranked American female.
My mentality, when I was skating, I wasn’t really caring about that. I was mostly caring about trying to do my best. To a certain extent, I may try to make it to finals, but if I don’t make it to finals then that is my goal for the next contest.

As far as rankings, of course, it is dope but you have to consider the process because skating throws you curveballs. You can get injured, you can get sick, life can just happen. You know what I mean? Ranking is a number, for sure, but I wasn’t chasing to be ranked number one. I was just trying to do my best.

Treat every contest like it is your last, and then see where you rank at the end.

Let’s shift away from the competition questions. How have you been handling COVID-19? What have you been up to these past few weeks?
Honestly, the pandemic is gnarly—having to adjust to a new lifestyle. I was on the road and probably not home for more than six weeks last year, you know? From a lifestyle like that to being completely at home and isolated was pretty intense. 

I’m not going to say it was easy and it was great. There were so many emotions and fear with the uncertainty of everything, but I’ve come to a point of acceptance. There are some things you can control, and there are some things you can’t. It is the same thing in skate contests, so I’ve been trying to put that mindset into my daily life.

I can’t control what is going on in the world, but I can at least control what I am doing. I can workout twice a week, make sure that I am hydrated and eating good, I can rest, I can skate.

I have been blessed to have a slab of concrete in my parents’ backyard, which I created last year thinking I’d make a skatepark before I ended up moving out into an apartment with my brother and his girlfriend. But, I’ve been isolating at my parents’ house so that I can get into a nice routine of wake up, bike ride in the morning, come back to eat, skate and then chill.

I’ve been basically kicking it with my parents a lot, which is nice because I didn’t get to much last year. I’ve been painting, trying to paint new stuff. But, other than that just trying to stay busy.

Every day now is a blessing, literally.

Sounds like working out and skating has been keeping you busy. Have you been cooking a little more?
I have been but not as intense as everybody else. It’s not like my first priority because I am kind of spoiled because my parents cook, haha.

I was supposed to FaceTime Jenn [Soto], out in L.A., to bake bread together, but her oven doesn’t work at the moment.

Mariah Duran
Photo Credit: Strand

You mentioned picking up a painting lately, what’s been going on with the paintbrush?
Oh, I don’t know. What hasn’t been going on? Haha, no I am just kidding. I don’t know, it is just one of those things that I have just wanted to do. I’m not striving to be an artist, I’m just having fun not stressing about what’s going on. 

I order up some canvases and paintbrushes, and I just honestly pick colors and draw shapes or whatever, whatever, and just go in. It is also pretty comforting that even if I don’t like the painting, my mom is going to hang it up regardless, haha.

I don’t judge myself when I’m painting. It is just a good way to connect with the moment, to feel how you feel, and not stress about striving to be the best. There is a sense of freedom, which has become such a luxury thing now that we are all isolated. Painting is like a small, little getaway. It’s definitely one of the key things I’ve picked up since this quarantine has happened.

What was it like going on Dew Tour Live the other day? It’s crazy to think that this week would have been Dew Tour Long Beach had it not been for COVID-19. What was the goal with DTL, and what did you think?
Now, with this whole isolation thing, I really liked seeing everyone’s faces and connecting with them through screens. It was almost as if they were there, and that is the best that it is going to get. The vibe was great.

Going in, my main thing was just to connect with people and talk. That is a big thing for me, during this time, to just connect and talk with people. It was really dope that Manny was on there, he is always pushing me. On [DTL], he was all like “Yo, we are playing a game of SK8. Three letters after this.” I was just thinking like, dang, dude. I just got done with a bike ride, I just trained. My legs are dusted. But then I said, “Alright, I’m down. Let’s do it!” 

It was just fun to connect with those people. Alana [Smith] out in New York, and to connect with Mimi [Knoop] who is also in Cali. It was really dope. It flowed way better than I thought it was going to.

Also, at the end with that three-letter game of SK8, I lost because they said he did a switch ollie North but the camera glitched and it was a switch flip. So, I messed up on a switch ollie North and was just thinking that it doesn’t sound like a Manny trick because I have played this dude so many times. I was just like, “He is brutal right now. That is foul. Who is this person?”

But yeah, it was fun to share with those people what I had been doing, and hopefully the viewers enjoyed it, too. The best part was just being reminded that we have the technology to connect with people during these times. It could be worse. You can still laugh with people, just maybe it is through a screen or whatever.

I’m super hyped Dew Tour is doing that, honestly.

Is there anything you want to say to people that are stuck at home right now?
I hope everybody is staying safe and doing what they can. Remember to appreciate the small things because small steps climb mountains, you know?

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