Achieving success in any sport or profession is never an easy task. You often hear stories about the struggles and hard times that a person had to overcome to get to where they are at. Luana Oliveira is one of these stories. Growing up in a low income family, and in a country that had little to no knowledge of the sport that she was trying to succeed in, would only add to her struggle. But, like they say, "What doesn't kill you, only makes you stronger," might just make sense here. Through fierce determination, hard work and training, Luana has pushed past those barriers, and has finally reached the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. She now holds the title of five-time Brazilian Champion in 4X and three-time Brazilian Champion in Downhill. Her skills have also crossed over many borders internationally and placed her in the top spot whether she is riding Downhill, Urban, Dual Slalom, BMX or DJ. She continues to excel in all areas and now has the momentum to prove that she will be a major threat in the upcoming year.
How do you like living in the US?
It's great. I really like the fact that I can do any type of riding here, and it's easy to find people who share the same passion, you know. I feel a good energy when I'm here. I also like that I can take a quiet walk down the street. And also It's a huge opportunity to pursue my career. What are your favorite riding spots here?
I really like the downhill tracks in Laguna Beach and the dirt jumps at the Huntington Beach Wetlands, I really love the Lake Elsinore area too. How is living in Brazil different than living in California?
The worst thing in Brazil is that the government is so much different than here, a lot of injustice, corruption and it'll never change, I love my country and this makes me feel bad as I really want this to get better after all of the protest that are happening now, the president is horrible.
Regarding the different aspects of bike riding, whether it is Downhill, BMX, Street, or DJ, it is hard for the athlete to get the support they need to move forward and suceed. Unless you play soccer, it isn't recognized as a valuable sport. Many people in Brazil don't even know what Downhill is. I am very happy with my sponsorship there, but I'm here because it is the only way to evolve and generate good content and a better job. Brazil is a great place to train, but where I lived had too many dangerous people and places. I love Brazil, but unfortunately these things turned me away from it. I've only spent a short amount of time in California, but I really appreciate all the people in the sport and the respect that they have for each other. I also enjoy the great weather.
Is it hard to succeed in Mountain Biking in Brazil?
It's hard, and even though I went through many difficulties, I never gave up. Now, I have so much positive momentum and I keep working hard to improve even more. I knew plenty of people who couldn't press on and gave up when things got too difficult. This is very sad. I understand you're from a pretty bad neighborhood. How many times have you been robbed (in Brazil)?
I have been robbed several times there, and the last time was seven months ago near the town where I lived. How was your experience at Sea Otter this year? Anything you would have done differently?
The Sea Otter event really impressed me. I had not the slightest idea what it would be like to participate in such a big event like that. It was quite satisfying, and an awesome workout to start the season. It was also a lot of fun, and although it didn't go quite as planned, I gained a lot of experience for the next event. Sea Otter had a good vibe and I felt very comfortable for my first time participating there. Is riding a DH course on a 29er something we can ever expect from you? Does it make sense?
Depends on the track. I have ridden the 27.5" wheels and enjoyed the performance of the bike. On some tracks I think it makes sense… World Cup season is coming up, what are you doing to prepare for those races?
I am training a lot and have a wide variety of exercises to improve my performance and stamina. I also work on my concentration and mental discipline so I can be prepared in all areas. What is your favorite track and why?
I really like Leogang, Austria. It is very fun, fast, and the jumps are great. I love it. Is there a friendly vibe with all the girls?
Yes, there is a good vibe and I feel comfortable with everyone.
How did you get into mountain biking?
I started riding BMX when a track was built close to my home. I quickly fell in love with riding and in 2007 a friend invited me to attend a Downhill race, where I placed in the top spot. I felt comfortable on the jumps, in the technical sections, and riding at high speeds. I then entered other races and continued to do well, and at that point started to receive support from a few local brands. I was then able to participate in the Championships and ended up winning the title which helped give me a great reputation in Brazil. Was it ever tough being accepted as a female in a mostly male dominated sport?
It was worse in the past, but now things have greatly improved. Off the bike, what do you do for fun?
I like to hang out with my friends, watch movies, read, write, and work on other projects that I have. When did you get your first tattoo?
I got my first tattoo in 2006, at age 14. Do they have special significance, or just cool art?
Most of them have special meaning, but It's also about having great art.
Top 3 songs?
The Price - Charlie Brown Jr.
Stompa - Serena Ryder
Waiting all night - Elle Eyre Top 3 movies of all time?
Paraisos Artificiais What is one thing most people do not know about you?
Most people don't know about my beginnings in the sport. I came from a humble family. We could never afford good equipment, bikes, or the entry fees to participate in competitions. It was a long and difficult journey to get this far, but it's the bigger things that make me strong to keep going and have more faith to follow my dreams. Who's got your back? Any special thank you's?
My family, friends, and fans. TNT Energy Drink, Oakley, Vee Rubber, Bike Tech Jardins, Eppo Itu, Blk Market, Crankbrothers... and all the people who helped me to overcome all the obstacles along the way. I really enjoyed doing this interview, thank you for the space!
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