Lizzie Armanto talks Tony Hawk's 360 loop, skateboarding at the Olympics, and choosing Finland

Skateboarder Lizzie Armanto joined the Olympic Channel Podcast for an in-depth interview about how the 'hobby' she loved growing up became a career.

Lizzie Armanto is the first woman to complete skateboard legend Tony Hawk’s 360 loop.

“It's nothing like anything else in skateboarding,” said Armanto, who is planning to represent Finland at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Plenty of talented skaters have tried. Only a select few have managed to complete it unscathed.

“If you don't have that outcome where you just make it out perfect - It's just like a catastrophe.”

"It's terrifying!" - Lizzie Armanto to Olympic Channel Podcast on Tony Hawk's 360 loop

“There's been numerous amounts of people that have just like that are really talented, that have just gotten obliterated on it.

“It's terrifying!”

Armanto was this week’s guest on the Olympic Channel Podcast where she spoke about growing up, why she chose Finland, and the Olympics.

Lizzie Armanto skates the Olympic discipline of Park
Lizzie Armanto skates the Olympic discipline of ParkLizzie Armanto skates the Olympic discipline of Park

Olympic Channel (OC): How did you get into skateboarding?

Lizzie Armanto (LA): The park my mom signed us up for is the Cove in Santa Monica, and it's just mostly a transition park. There's a little street flow section. But I guess just naturally, I gravitated towards transition because I was just surrounded in it. And there was so many people from all over that would come by the park. And there's really good sessions there. I definitely am very fortunate that that just happened to be my, like, home park.

Podcast: Lizzie Armanto on Tony Hawk's 360 loop, skateboarding, and the Olympics

Podcast: Lizzie Armanto on Tony Hawk's 360 loop, skateboarding, and the Olympics

OC: You suffered a big knee injury early on in your skating career. How much of a big turning point for you was that?

LA: At the end of 2013 – it was December. I was trying to film for a video part and it was filming for the first time in my home park. And then I'm like, warming up. And I'm literally just carving around. The most basic thing. And I just ended up getting wheel bite in this bowl that I always skate and I end up falling in - slamming on my knee. And I ended up tearing my PCL (posterior cruciate ligament).

I didn't know it at the time... it didn't feel like something was wrong.

"It was definitely a tough decision. It wasn't easy." - Lizzie Armanto on deciding to become a pro skater

I was going to college at the time, just community college. I didn't really have a trajectory with school. I was just going because I wasn't sure what I was going to do. I love skating [but it] was my hobby.. I guess I wasn't really trying to pursue it. I just skated contests for fun.

I think once I had that injury and I realised how serious it was - I was like, ‘I have to go for it right now.’

It was definitely a tough decision. It wasn't easy.

Going out and just saying, ‘I'm going to go for this job that doesn't exist.’

It was definitely a huge learning experience and it made me realise what I want.

OC: In 2018, you became the first woman to successfully conquer Tony Hawk’s 360 loop. How did that all come about?

LA: The loop, for anyone who doesn't know, it's basically like, one of those toy car tracks that where you shoot the car through the loop. It’s life-size. It's huge. It's 14-feet (4.3 metres) tall. And then the roll in is like 16-feet (4.9 metres) tall.

It's nothing like anything else in skateboarding. Usually you go up a wall and you come back down. You don't go into a circle and then, like, disappear.

There were a couple of people with me trying. And then slowly, everyone starts fading out. And at some point I start sticking to the wall.

We start taking the pads out and it gets to the point where it's the last pad. I totally mess up and I fall before I get to the top.

That's where I should have died. Like, I could have died.

By the fifth or sixth try, I make it. I go across the parking lot and I finally get to like look back and think, ‘That thing is scary!’

OC: You chose to represent Finland which surprised some people. But it’s because your dad is from Finland. Can you explain how you landed at that decision?

With the Olympics, there's quotas and each country can only have so many people. It's skateboarding's debut in the Olympics and to the world. It's such a big event!

So much of the world's talent is in the US, I just felt like by going with Finland, I could open up one more spot. It just felt like the right thing to do for me. It's a very it's a personal decision.

When I got into skateboarding, it wasn't because I wanted to be Olympian - that kind of came up way later. I never looked at people [and thought about] where they're from. I know that definitely it is a part of each person's identity.

"I just want to share my passion."

But skateboarding is so cool in the sense that you can skate with someone who's just learning how to talk or you can skate with someone who's retired.

You can go all over the world with whoever - you don't speak the same language. There's this universal connection that we all have as skateboarders.

I just want to share that stoke with everyone in life, whether I'm doing it skating in the Olympics for the US or for Finland. I just want to share my passion. And I want other people to follow their passions. I feel there's so many people that kind of get stuck trying to please other people.

US-born Lizzie Armanto decided to represent father's country of Finland
US-born Lizzie Armanto decided to represent father's country of FinlandUS-born Lizzie Armanto decided to represent father's country of Finland

OC: Sky Brown chose to represent Great Britain. She performed really well at a few contests last year and she’s still 11 years old!

LA: She's so talented. And like, I remember seeing her years ago at Exposure Skate. And she was ripping. She's progressed so much since then. You can still see the style and her tricks selection. She knows what she wants. It's crazy just because she's so young. She has a lot of opportunity to follow her passion and you can see where it's taking her. And it's even inspiring for me.

I know it definitely reminds me of when I first started skating - like the fire and stuff.

OC: You’ve travelled to Japan. What do you make of it?

Japan is one of my favourite places to visit. And their culture is so different. There's nowhere else like it.

Even growing up, in high school, my language that I picked was Japanese.

I love the food. It'll be really cool to see the Olympics in Japan because the culture there is so fanatic. It'll be amazing to see.

Lizzie Armanto was this week’s guest on the Olympic Channel Podcast. Subscribe for inspirational interviews every Wednesday.

The questions and answers were edited for clarity and brevity.

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