If you follow us closely, you might have heard the name Keet Oldenbeuving — although if you’re still unfamiliar with the Utrecht prodigy, consider this your introduction.
When we first met Keet in Brazil this January during the filming of the second episode of ‘Not Here By Luck’ — our joint series with Nike SB showcasing the personalities, communities and initiatives that are shaping today’s female skateboarding scene — she made a very strong impression on us. After seeing her destroy the newly built Street League course, grinding every rail on her path and ending first in the qualifying round of the women’s division, we found it hard to believe she was only fourteen years of age.
But more than Keet’s abilities on a skateboard, it was after catching up for an evening talk on the rooftops of Rio that she blew us away in the best way possible. Recording a filmed interview can be a bizarre experience; not everybody is at ease with a microphone stuck to the inside of their shirt and a camera pointed at their face — although Keet handled the experience like she’d done it her whole life. She quickly ended up proving that despite her overflowing energy, she was wiser beyond her years, showing she was knowledgable about a variety of subjects, ranking from the in and outs of the skate industry to the pro and cons of having the sport in the Olympics, and speaking with the presence and confidence of a grown adult.
So when we got asked to go spend a few days with Keet at her hometown of Utrecht, Netherlands, a few months later, we knew it would be a good time.
If you’re unfamiliar with Utrecht, imagine a small version of Amsterdam 45mn out of town. Keep the canals and paved streets and ditch the annoying midnight drunks and nasty scenes of the red light district and you’re right on the money. A wonderful existence indeed.
On arrival, plans are made to link with Keet at 11am in front of her school. Keet is part of a special sport section that allows her to leave classes to go skate anytime she needs to. So without having to insist too much, we met Keet in front of the school’s door where she left her schoolmates to head for a day of skating through the town.
Unlike football or any other hobby or team sport that kids are traditionally pushed to pursue, skateboarding is known for being quite an unpopular sport in parents’ eyes. Most of the time it’s that thing that kids pick up from their turbulent mate whilst playing in the street, that is usually labelled with broken arms, rebellion, noise, time spent alone in the streets and bad frequentations, which doesn’t sound ideal for every underaged kid — let alone a girl. Although that’s where Keet’s situation is rather original. Keet’s Father is actually the one who first got her into skateboarding, bringing her to school on the nose of his own board and driving her across the country to the different contests.
“My family always supported my with skateboarding. They brought me to every skatepark in Holland, and skate the contests. Some parents are really supportive and they bring you everywhere and buy you the stuff you need. But other parents think it’s very dangerous and don’t really want their kids to skate. They were super supportive and I’m really thankful for that because that’s how I am where I am now. ”
A few years onward and Keet is constantly flying across the word, competing and more often than not ending up on the podiums of various competitions (she recently won the title of European champion if that’s enough to back us up…).
Keet doing so well in contests could almost get her labeled as a reckless contest skater, although things happened to be quite the opposite after spending some time home with her. Hanging out with her and her friends was a strong testament to how she values free skating and spending time with her friends. As she says herself, “My friends are one of the biggest reasons why I started skateboarding. When I was starting out, meeting with them at the skatepark was one of my main motivations.”
During the 4 days we spent together, she either always had someone staying over — mainly Mathias Dell Olio, who was visiting her from Argentina — or friends from Holland that she would arrange to meet, whether at World Skate Center — Keet’s favourite park — or at the various street spots we skated around Utrecht, Amsterdam or Rotterdam.
“Skating with the friends that I have now, they’re so good at skateboarding that it makes me hype myself up because I want to do the tricks too. I want to be as good as them. Diego (Broest) lives in Amsterdam but he skates a lot in Utrecht. He’s probably the person I skate with the most. Skating with Mathias, you learn a new trick everyday. He helps you so much with what trick you’ve got to learn, or how your stance’s got to be. And that’s when you learn new tricks. It’s so sick.”
One of the wonders of Europe is no doubt the ability of being able to travel, crossing the countries via public transports. Being sponsored by the national railroad company of Netherlands helps in that regard and Keet taking the train every other day on her own seems only natural as highlighted by Keet’s Father:
“Within Holland, she does everything on her own. Even when she’s not traveling with somebody she just jumps in the train, go to Amsterdam, go to Eindhoven go to Den Bosch, go to the other end of the country on her own. That’s what she does.”
On top of sneaking us into the empty first class wagon, we were able to follow Keet hopping between her favourite cities in Holland as pictured in the latest episode of Not Here by Luck. Dive in.