A terrifying accident hasn’t stopped this longboarder from embracing adventure

 

Downhill longboarding takes guts. Flying down a twisted mountain road with nothing but wheels and a plank between flesh and tar, there’s no time for hesitation. Once feet commit to board, self-doubt needs to be brushed away. Andréa Katzeff has learned to love this process. Every time she grits her teeth and takes the plunge downwards she knows better than most what consequence means.

Katzeff was ten years old when a go-karting accident ripped her scalp clean from her head. The hair that wound around the wheel of that out-of-control kart would never grow back – she now wears a specialised wig – but Katzeff’s courage remained undamaged. In fact, her desire to test her limits only grew and ten years later she took up skating. She was first coached in longboarding by a friend from work and has since grown into a competitive skater.

“To me courage means doing something that you want to do, regardless of your insecurities,” says Katzeff. Her past with high-speed tar-raging didn’t prevent her from starting her journey downhill on a longboard. Stopping has been the real problem. Katzeff overcame her fear of falling and learnt to control her board, but it’s gone wrong a few times. She’s come off hard and dislocated her shoulder before. Three times. And counting?

In any case, she’s still rocketing off whenever she gets the chance, taking full advantage of South Africa’s abundant opportunities for adventure. When she’s not dislocating shoulders Katzeff is working on a demanding triple major curriculum at UCT. She has hopes of one day furthering her studies abroad – at Cambridge, no less. Ambitious as she is, Katzeff knows how it feels to fall short and fall hard. But more importantly, she knows how to get back up.