Meet Lizzie Armanto, a Trailblazing Force in Women’s Skateboarding

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Lizzie ArmantoPhotography by Natalia Ivanova

AnOther catches up with Lizzie Armanto at the OTW by Vans skate installation in Paris about her career and the rapid evolution of women’s skateboarding

Lizzie Armanto is the first woman in the world to complete Tony Hawk’s legendary 360 loop. First executed by the legendary American skateboarder over 20 years ago in 1998, Armanto managed to pull off the dangerous stunt in 2018 after nearly five hours of attempts. Moving from success to success, one year later it was revealed that she would skate at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. As the first time that skateboarding was recognised as an Olympic sport, this was a major milestone, but it was nonetheless a divisive event among the community, with some lauding the decision and others deriding it.

“I felt confident about skating in the Olympics,” says Armanto today, “although I remember feeling the pressure of trying to figure out if I was going to skate for the USA or Finland for the Olympics.” In the end, she opted for Finland (Armanto is of dual American-Finnish heritage), hoping to leave more spots open for people on the US team. But since the competition took place during the pandemic, there was no actual in-person audience watching the athletes. “It was kind of bizarre, it was ‘biggest contest’ yet no people were actually there,” she says. “But I think the history of the Olympics is really cool. Now that skateboarding is part of it, I hope more people are inspired to get on a skateboard.” 

This infectious enthusiasm for doing what you love – in her case, skateboarding – is a throughline through Armanto’s career, ever since she first picked up a board at 14 in her local skatepark in Santa Monica, California. “I love the community, the culture, the lifestyle and freedom,” she says. “It’s a universe amongst itself that’s open and available to anyone who wants to try.”

Today, Armanto is in Paris courtesy of Vans, whom she is on the skating team for. Launching their new skateboarding-influenced category OTW by Vans, the line will officially become available in early 2024 with a collaboration from Sterling Ruby’s sought-after fashion brand S.R. STUDIO. LA. CA. In celebration, during men’s fashion week, Vans has built a striking architectural skate installation on the Seine in Paris, which skateboarders including Armanto, Beatrice Domond, Rowan Zorilla and more are all utilising, before musicians Onyx Collective and King Krule take over the stage for raucous evening performances. Armanto’s husband, the Belgian skateboarder Axel Cruysberghs, who she met in Copenhagen during a skate trip, is also in Paris today skating with Vans. “Having a partner in the same industry is fun because we get to skate together all over the world,” says Armanto. “Even though we have different disciplines, he understands what I’m going through and has similar responsibilities and obligations.” Plus, being on tour with Cruysberghs means having a travel accomplice. While in Paris this time around, Armanto plans to bike around and check out new restaurants A l’ami Pierre and Kodawari Ramen. “Also the catacombs are pretty sick,” she says.

Despite skateboarding still being a largely male-dominated world, change is afoot, and prominent women skaters like Armanto and Domond are part of the surge. “From when I began, it’s come a long way in a relatively short period of time in the last few years,” says Armanto of the change. “It’s awesome to see the growth and number of girls and woman participating.”