Bryce Wettstein isn’t a stranger to the world of professional skateboarding. The 17-year-old has grown up competing at various competitions while juggling the additional pressures of being in high school. However, this summer, Wettstein is entering uncharted waters.
Popularized in the 1960s, skateboarding was initially viewed with a negative connotation and more of a rebellious and dangerous pastime than a competitive sport.
Now, it’s on the largest and most prestigious stage in global sports, set to debut alongside other newly-added events at the Tokyo Olympics.
Wettstein will make her Olympic debut August 4 representing Team USA Skateboarding in the Women’s Park category.
“I fell in love with skateboarding. And I knew that every year, every day, I fall in love with it again,” Wettstein said. “So I think that every single age I fell in love with it within a new configuration of what it was. I’ve learned every day that there’s no one way to fall in love with something.”
Wettstein’s father first took her skateboarding at the local YMCA skateboarding park when she was five. Her love for the sport began then.
“I thought of it as like a fishbowl because you’re carving around and around something circular. I remember always pretending I was in a little fishbowl, and it felt so real,” Wettstein said, recalling one of the first times she skated.
Eleven years later, Wettstein’s accolades speak for themselves. She was seven when she entered her first competition and 12 when she traveled for the first time to compete internationally in Sweden. She also built a long-lasting relationship with some of her sponsors, notably Silly Girl Skateboards, who has been supporting her since she was five years old.
Growing up in Encinitas, Calif. allowed Wettstein to develop her passion for skateboarding alongside her community. Often known as the “birthplace of skateboarding,” Encinitas has a prominent skateboarding culture. Skateboarding ramps can be seen scattered throughout the city.
Wettstein’s backyard mirrors the city’s culture. It stores a 10-foot vertical ramp and pool-sized wooden bowl she nicknamed the “Iguana Bowl,” which is scattered with drawings and messages from her skateboarding community.
Athleticism, competition or a means of transportation are what most people think skateboarding is about. But for Wettstein, it serves a different purpose. Her perspective on skateboarding is an unexplored one of the skate scene — it’s her personal creative endeavor.
“Creativity is something I think that comes out of you in the best little amalgamations of ways because it’s something that you’re not looking at frontwards and backwards only, but you’re making those spindles of it and looking at it backwards from side to side,” Wettstein said.
For her, the deep-seated link between skateboarding and creativity serves as her avenue for personal development and motivates her to push beyond her limits.
“That’s what creativity is — it’s using a gradient of every kind of object or every kind of itinerary or item and having it all come together to form something that no one’s ever seen before,” she said. “Sometimes skateboarding will do that to you. It’ll make you use the little parts of you that you were always afraid to use.”
Wettstein’s creativity resulted in national titles in Women’s Park, including becoming the 2019 USA National Champion and the 2021 Summer XGames Bronze Medalist.
Despite her numerous victorious competitions, competing at the Olympics has always been a far-fetched dream of hers. When she first received the email about qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, she said she was puzzled and exhilarated.
That feeling hasn’t subsided since.
“I think my initial reaction will never change from how I felt when I first looked at that email. Right now, Tokyo is kind of like this little happy place,” Wettstein said. “If I’m actually there, then I’m actually going to see what the world is like, like all the way up there, where my dream has been for so long.”
However, skateboarding isn’t the only outlet she uses to express her creative identity.
An avid singer-songwriter, Wettstein has already released 13 songs that feature poetic lyrics and the soft strums of her ukulele. Her inspiration springs from everything around her, from the books she reads to the ordinary sights she sees every day.
“Sometimes when you’re usually writing about something, it comes to you in sort of this formation that’s really undulated in the most beautiful way because it’s something that comes out from the part of you that sometimes you suppress — the part of you that’s always kind of lurking in the background afraid to come out,” Wettstein said.
Donna Wettstein said her daughter has been blessed with wisdom far beyond her years.
“She’s a burst of energy and very in the moment and enjoys life,” Donna Wettstein said. “I just hope she can inspire people she loves to do and never lose her heart and ability to love people and inspire people, whether that be through songwriting, skateboarding, writing, whatever it is. I just hope she can have a fulfilled lifetime — a lifetime of joy.”
Through all her creative outlets, whether that be skateboarding or songwriting, Wettstein hopes to inspire others to pursue their own happiness. She describes that feeling as the truest form of how people can find their own inspiration, and hopes that everyone around her finds a passion that they can always be infatuated with.
“Find yourself something you love that makes you look at it like you do when you’re a newborn baby,” Bryce Wettstein said. “Find yourself something that no matter how many times you look at it, you still feel like you’re looking at it for the first time.”