A month after turning pro with Tony Hawk’s Birdhouse, Lizzie Armanto is back with a brand new part, courtesy of Thrasher Magazine. Shredding mostly vert in this video, the 24-year-old California native shows us why she’s one of the better young skaters in the game, male or female, as she’s possessed by a smooth, endless style. However, as we find out in her exclusive interview, Lizzie is just a shy kid who wants to carve as many new parks as she can. Luckily for her, time is on her side.
Here’s a couple of excerpts from Lizzie’s exclusive Thrasher interview.
What age did you start skating?
I didn’t really start ‘til I was 14. We had the crappy boards for awhile, trying to roll down the hill we lived on in Glendale. It was kinda steep so it wasn’t ideal at all. Then we moved to Santa Monica and my brother wanted to try it. Plus, it was the culture there too. You’d see people skating around. My mom took us both to the park and I wasn’t gonna have my brother be better than me. That’s what started it.
Were you good from the beginning?
I definitely had to work for it. My mom was a single parent. My parents had just got divorced and we moved to Santa Monica and I was changing schools again and it was a whatever time. My mom would let us come home from school, clean the house, do chores and then do homework or go to the library. So once we started going to the skatepark she was, like, “You can do that whenever you want.” So since it was way better than any of the other options we just started hanging out there.
Were you cool with being around all dudes?
I mean, I didn’t really talk to anyone. I’m shy and back then I was even more shy. I just talked to my brother and the people who worked at the park. Eventually my neighbor started doing it and she was a girl so I’d go with her. I wanted someone to try stuff with so I’d try to get her to try stuff with me.
So was it normal for you to start doing handplants and airs?
That came later. I just liked carving around and being at the park and messing around and being a kid. I started learning tricks when I started going to other parks. I learned basic tricks at The Cove, but when I started skating the Vans park in Orange and saw people skating the Combi I was, like, “I want to do that.”
So you were a teenage girl but skating pools and bowls you ended skating with a lot of grown men. What was that like?
I think even at my home park I ended up skating with a lot of older guys. They’d be off in the corner trying to do their own thing. It seemed like a safe place. Kids my age were acting wild and I was kinda shy so I’d go to the place that wasn’t crowded. And that’s where all the old guys ended up skating so I made friends with them. I skated with Pat Ngoho a lot.
Were they encouraging to you?
Yeah, for the most part. I’d ask them about tricks that I was trying to figure out and everyone was nice to me.
How are these contests? It gets heated sometimes, right? Were you there that time the lady jumped in the pool and choked the other lady?
No, that was before my time. But I’ve definitely felt some animosity towards me in skating. People in skateboarding are crazy, which is cool, but because they’re crazy anything can happen. I remember this one time someone didn’t like me and they peed on my board. I found out weeks later and I was so disturbed.
What? A man or a woman?
A woman. I was, like, “This is disgusting; I’m not skating this board,” and I threw it away. It was so gross. I mean, who does that?
It was like, “Oh my God. What are we, animals? You have a problem so your way of dealing with this problem is peeing on my board?”
What’s it like to be a semi-famous woman in the age of social media?
Some days it’s really cool. Actually, it’s totally awesome. Social media has been a huge tool for me to have a job and skate and make that a thing. At the same time, since it’s taken off I feel like I can’t just post whatever. It can’t be complete bullshit. But then at the same time, you can post complete bullshit. I end up thinking about it and it almost makes it not fun in a way. Before you could post whatever and it didn’t matter.
And now it feels like a job? You have to be strategic?
Not strategic, but people take things you say the wrong way and take them out of context and so I recently turned off my notifications, like, “This is bullshit.” People hide behind the Internet and talk shit. People can be totally lame and I don’t think that’s good for you.
I was gonna ask. Are there creeps coming out of the woodwork constantly?
Totally. I’m sure if I search my messages, there’s a ton of dumb messages. People think I don’t see it, like, “Oh, she gets a ton of messages,” but I’m on there. I read it. It’s on my phone. My manager doesn’t know my password and post stuff. It’s me.
So as far as not wanting to put yourself out there for that kind of attention—this is uncharted territory here, but what do you think about some of the women skaters who have gotten into bikini modeling and semi-naked stuff like what Leticia is doing? What’s your take on that kind of stuff?
I mean, to each their own, and if that’s what empowers you, run with it. There’s definitely power there. It all depends on your demeanor. If you’re just trying to get attention and that’s the way you think you’re gonna get it, if they think they’re empowering themselves all they might be really doing is trying to fill a void. And then they just end up hurting themselves. Hypothetically, there’s some people who do things for attention. It rarely ever pays off. That doesn’t make you feel good at the end of the day. I don’t know. You should just be a good person and if you’re going to do something, do it ‘cause you want to do it. People are going to have their opinions, but you shouldn’t let a stranger’s opinion, who doesn’t matter, who doesn’t have a background in what you’re doing— that doesn’t matter. That gets back to my social media, about turning the notifications off. There’s totally cool stuff on there, but they’re not my personal friend, they don’t know my background. Even if it might be some huge compliment, there’s no weight to it. Whereas if someone sees you in real life and talks to you—
Was going on tours with them and being with dudes a culture shock for you? ‘Cause that’s very different from being at the contest and going back to the La Quinta.
Oh yeah, it was completely different but I know that they make it better for me. If I need to go to the bathroom, we’re stopping. I’m not trying to go to the bathroom in the back of the van like all of them. They look out. They’re cool to me. They even take advantage of that, like, they want to stop somewhere so they’ll be, like, “Yeah, Lizzie has to take a shit.” They’ll use me as an excuse to stop. It’s just really fun to be a part of that mess.
How’d you knock your teeth out?
Oh yeah. That’s a good one. I was skating Combi and in the square side on the wall with the peninsula I aired out too far and when I went to bail I fell and I compressed too much and I tapped my teeth and they were gone.
On the ground?
Yeah, in pieces. I was totally freaked out about it. I knew exactly what had happened. It was weird ‘cause it was one of the hardest slams I’ve taken but breaking your teeth doesn’t really hurt that much. It’s not like opening flesh. It’s not like I was bleeding. Actually, my lip was bleeding. That probably hurt more than my teeth. What hurt was that my teeth weren’t going to come back. Mentally that was probably the hardest slam. I had to go the dentist and I hate going to the dentist. Everything in my mouth hurt and they had to go in there and everything was swollen and not good. They’re, like, “Relax,” and I’m sitting in the chair trying not to have a panic attack. And then I was trying to go to my happy place and so I’m thinking about the Combi but then I fell in the Combi and that’s where I ruined my face. And so I was, like, “I don’t have a happy place; I’m gonna freak out! Get me out of here!”