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Meet Lizzie Armanto, one of the best female skateboarders in the world

Plus an exclusive reportage from the Vans event in Milan with the brand's founders and pro skaters

Meet Lizzie Armanto, one of the best female skateboarders in the world Plus an exclusive reportage from the Vans event in Milan with the brand's founders and pro skaters

A few days ago Vans invited us to the flagship store of the brand in Corso Buenos Aires in Milan for a rather unique event. Some of the best-known names of the American brand's universe were, in fact, present: not only the skateboarding legends Christian HosoiGeoff RowleyRay Barbee and Lizzie Armanto, but above all Paul and Steve Van Doren, founders of Vans. The dynamic duo entertained the hundreds of fans who came around for a selfie, for an autograph on a Vans shoe or on the skate deck. It was 22 years since Steve last came to Milan: with his black Vans slip-on and a bright flamboyant shirt, he still looked like that charismatic, ambitious but nonetheless funny man who managed to create an empire. 

The event was also the occasion to catch up with Lizzie Armanto, undoubtedly one of the best skaters in the world right now. Born in 1993, raised in California to a father with Finnish roots, Lizzie started skating in 2007 along with her younger brother, becoming in a short time a protegé of Tony Hawk and winning a remarkable number of awards and competitions. Lizzie Armanto was the first female skater to complete the famous Tony Hawk's The Loop, basically doing a complete death roll with the skateboard within a rounded slope. An apparently impossible achievement. 
Now Lizzie, in the Vans team since 2014, has been chosen as the team leader of the Vans Vanguard campaign, annual projects meant to support skateboarding as a sport, this year focused on female skateboarding. 
Here's what she told us. 

#1 We’re here for the presentation of the Vans Vanguard campaign, this year focused on the female skate world. Is skateboarding finally considered also as a female sport? 

I think skateboarding, in general, it’s not male or female, there’s no term for a male skateboarder or a female skateboarder. It’s definitely cool that there’s a lot more room for women, and that they’re being shown. The scene is still growing and it's been awesome to see it grow, but I think there's still more room to push. 

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#2 Was it hard growing up being a young girl doing skate? 

I think that boys and girls, everyone in skateboarding, male or female, gets its fair share of heckling, but it’s definitely intimidating if you’re the only girl. It’s changing, I feel like now when I go to a skate park it’s more common to see more girls there. It’s not weird to see a girl with a skateboard or skating down the street. Skateboarding is bigger than it’s ever been. Most of the time the people that are heckling they’re not like the most respected people in the first place, a lot of those people just want attention themselves. And if you’re learning to do something you’re super sensitive because you’re putting yourself out there, you’re vulnerable. You shouldn’t take in people’s energy that’s just being negative. 

#3 Would boys make fun of you or did they not take you seriously?

Boys are immature, it takes a lot longer for a boy to mature than for girls. Most of the time they are just being stupid, a lot of the times guys are uncomfortable and this is the only way they know how to react like instinctively they are dumb. Sometimes when a boy likes a girl he thinks the right thing to do is to be mean to them, it’s so backwards. When you’re young and you’re struggling to find where you’re comfortable, where your place is, finding your identity, it’s a hard time for anybody. But if you wanna try skating don’t let someone being stupid to get you down. If you wanna do it keep trying. At some point, everyone sucks at everything, it's part of being a beginner. Anyone that's good at anything didn't start from there, a lot of the times you have just to be patient with yourself, when you see other people you expect yourself to try and be similar or you hold yourself to a higher standard. A lot of the times it’s just you and your own head, making it harder for yourself when you should just think about what you’re doing and just try.

#4 You were the first female skater to complete the famous Tony Hawk’s Loop. How did you prepare for this kind of challenge?

I tried not to think about it, to be honest. I’ve been asked about it before, and I was like ‘Mm, maybe, I don’t know’. I’m not going to make a decision until I see it and that’s what I did. And when I did see it I just had to try it once and then I can decide if it’s too much or if I had just to keep trying. A lot of the times we build things up to be more than they are, you just have to allow to yourself to just try. Like for the Loop, it’s just so easy to look at it and be like ‘No way’. It’s like any big task, usually doing it and going through emotions it is a lot easier than just stressing on it or worrying beforehand, it doesn’t help at all, it just stresses you out.

#5 Has the place where you were born, Santa Monica, CA, influenced your style, both in terms of skateboarding and fashion-wise? 

Growing up in Southern California has definitely influenced my style. The first skate park I ever went to it was the Santa Monica Skate Park and there’s a lot of transition skateboarding there, like poles and ramps. Because that’s the first thing I saw about skating I was naturally attracted to it. That was just the scene there, it influenced me, the people there. And also growing up in Los Angeles, I was influenced by the people of the city. 

#6 At the next Tokyo Olympic Games skateboarding will become an Olympic sport for the first time and you will be representing Finland, your father’s native country. Why did you take this decision? 

I’m going to represent Finland because I think the quorum system is unfair. The world should see the best skateboarding possible, and going with Finland it allows at least one more girl to go. I'm definitely excited to see how it goes.