Lizzie Armanto: Taking skateboarding by storm
Just as the Zephyr Team made headlines in Santa Monica decades ago, a new skateboarding sensation is taking over the seaside town.
In a city with such a rich history of skateboarding, it seems only natural that it would produce Lizzie Armanto, currently one of the top female skateboarders in the world.
A former Santa Monica College student, Armanto made headlines this past May when, as a first time participant, brought home a gold medal in the Women's Skateboard Park competition in the 2013 X Games in Barcelona, Spain.
"I'm still taking it all in," Armanto said in a phone interview with The Corsair. "I feel like I didn't change personally at all. I worked for it."
Not only was Armanto a newcomer to the X Games, but the competition she participated in was making its debut as well.
"It was kind of surreal, to get to go to another country," said Armanto. "It was very cool to be a part of an event this big with media coverage and hype."
The Women's Skateboard Park contest is a competition in which skaters blend elements of bowl skating, park skating, and street skating. Armanto finished first with a score of 76 points, edging out fellow American Alana Smith who finished with 70 points.
Although she has become quite a celebrity in the skateboarding community, Armanto attributes her rise to good, old-fashioned hard work that began by chance five years ago.
"My little brother wanted to try out a local skate park, so I went with him and I've done it ever since," said Armanto.
Skateboarding has traditionally been a male-dominated sport, and Armanto is helping break down the gender barriers. She's been described as "revolutionizing" women's skateboarding, a label that she is not overly fond of.
"It's just strange to hear people say stuff like that," said Armanto. "It's flattering, but I just want to be normal. There's a lot of pressure. I feel like I have my own expectations to worry about, let alone other people's."
In addition to helping uplift women's skateboarding, Armanto is also working closely with an organization by the name of Step Up, dedicated to developing skateboarding in other countries.
"It is a lot of fun going to these countries under these pretenses with embassies," said Armanto. "I've met with the local skaters, made a bunch of new friends, and been able to see parts of these countries you normally wouldn't see."
One of the countries that Armanto and Step Up plan to visit is Japan, a country where her Japanese class at SMC and three years of Japanese classes in high school will come in handy.
While Armanto has not attended SMC in quite some time, she said she does wish to continue with school at some point, but feels that with skateboarding, she needs to strike while the iron is still hot.
"Skateboarding's definitely allowed me to do what I want," said Armanto. "I want to make a career while I can. School is a priority, but it can wait to a certain degree. Skateboarding won't hold back; you can only do it for so long."