In the spotlight

Interview with Leonardo Vinicius

Tracking him between school and skate

Leonardo Vinicius may only be eleven, but he possesses a self-taught skate style way beyond his years. Read his interview.

by DANNY BURROW – photos by Bobby Schauch & Victor de Luis & TSG

Leonardo Vinicius may only be eleven and knee high to a grasshopper, but he possesses a self-taught skate style way beyond his years and has a head on him that will take him far in skate and beyond. Want proof? Not every kid is trusted by Tony Hawk to ollie over him in the pipe!

Click to watch the double

Stoked to be his new protection sponsors TSG tracked him between school and skate, at home in Spain, to ask him a few choice question on life, skate and living the dream.

First off, it is not that often that you get to interview an 11-year-old that has ‘PRO’ in his title. How stoked are you to be skating pro at such a young age?

I went from watching Moto Shibata every day on video to standing next to him, doing tricks that I learned watching his videos.

I earned the PRO title through hard work, no one gave it to me, I just feel that way. It’s for my dedication and discipline. Normally in Skate you aren’t a PRO until a board brand makes a model with your name on it.

young skateboarder Leonardo Vinicius
vert skateboarder ripping high

I read a message someone posted on one of your Insta reels that they thought you were the next Danny Way – That is one hell of a statement to live up to don’t you think?

An excited fan can say things that are way over exaggerated. Danny Way is one of a kind. In a couple of months, if all goes well, I’ll meet him and be able to talk about skate.

Who were the skaters that you watched to get as good as you are?

All the skaters I’ve seen up until now, but each one of them has given me something. I must tell you that I’ve learned without having a pro tutor by my side, and as such other skaters have been luckier than me. Hosoi, Ueda, Sloan, I can name a bunch of them, but above all the great flyers have been my inspiration

skateboard kid Leonardo Vinicius in Burgos vert ramp
Leonardo skates everyday in Burgos vert ramp

Are you going to be the skater your younger brothers and sisters look up to as a mentor of transition?

My brothers don’t like to skate with me to skate as my sessions are hard. They only come skating with me when we are going to have fun.
I am one of the oldest kids in the family and I must set an example in many things. But doing what I do with so much discipline is not something that the little ones are necessarily in to.

And how was it skating with some of the guys at the X Games? A dream come true?

Every day I watch the video of my best round in X Games to believe that I was there. Just think, I was selected for X Games, and I had never been to America, I’d never met a pro and it had only been 5 years since I got on a skateboard for the first time – I don’t think there’s another case like mine.

I went from watching Moto Shibata every day on video to standing next to him, doing tricks that I learned watching his videos. Eliot Sloan was super good to me, and Gui Khury treated like he was an older brother the two times I was next to him. Also think about this, when I had my fourth and last go, Tony Hawk was there telling me, “Leo, relax, it’s your time.” Can you understand what this is like? It’s like you can’t believe it. But I lived it and I feel lucky.

skateboarder Leonardo Vinicius at NL Contest in Strasbourg 2023
skateboarder Leonardo Vinicius at NL Contest in Strasbourg 2023

What was the next best thing that happened to you in 2023? I am guessing it was getting to hang out with Tony Hawk, doing doubles?

The best thing about 2023 was that my entire family was healthy, and we have been closer than ever despite being away from home for many weeks. The one moment that really sticks with me is getting the invitation to X Games. It was the greatest possible prize for the greatest effort ever made by my family. It was like the steamroller that squashed all the skepticism in me.

There are still people who ask me about where I came, without taking into consideration that there, there were only extraordinary skaters, none of whom are the number one, but they are all super skaters capable of winning when it is there day.

I am Spanish, it was the second competition of my life, the first was the World Cup in Argentina, I went when I was 11 years old, becoming, if I am not mistaken, the third youngest in the history of Vert X Games. It is difficult to think of something bigger than this. Other things will come up, but this is hard to beat.

Lastly, anyone can double over Tony if he is up for it, but what I did, Ollie on the second attempt, with the responsibility and him passing underneath me at full speed, that is without doubt a moment that is burned into my retina forever.

skateboarder Leonardo Vinicius at X Games 2023
skateboarder Leonardo Vinicius at X Games 2023

Alright, what does a regular day in your life look like? I am guessing there is always a bit of riding the half-pipe in Santecilla, Burgos?

Every day I get up early for the first session, 7-8 in the morning depending on the day, then I go to school. When a championship is coming up, I add another session at 7-8 at night. Two years ago, my family moved to live next to Half Pipe and it was a success. Having the ramp so close to home, about 7 km, makes it easier to combine skateboarding with life.

You must be stoked to have TSG gear to keep you in one piece in the pipe? What is your favourite piece of kit?

Well, you could say that things have been exemplary with TSG. From the first moment they have not messed around and given me all the material I could ever need, in fact double.

I believe in what they’re doing, in the people behind it, and love the quality of the gear. It is for sure letting me ride at the highest level being super protected. And the fact that they have both interior and exterior protection has massively improved my safety.

Leonardo Vinicius vert skateboarder 11 years X Games

Have you got any words of advice for any kids your age and younger who dream of skating X Games?

Of course, I’ve got some advice; I’ve got thousands. One of them is that they be free, which is what skateboarding is, right? That they feel free on the board, do it their way, on the ramp, on the street, wherever they want, how they want. Arriving at the X Games is another thing, and it is an adventure that’s not within everyone’s reach; you must be realistic. Dream for sure but keep it real. Nobody gets to the X Games without serious professional dedication.

And finally, what are your dreams for 2024 and beyond?

For 2024 my dream is for my family to stay together for another year, with health and happiness and of course be in an X Games final again. And we’ve got the world championships of vert in the WRG of Italy, which will be something special and it is for national squads, and I’ll be representing my country.

Portrait of Leo Vinicius skateboarder

I believe in what TSG is doing, in the people behind it, and love the quality of the gear

Leonardo rides with