116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
For the first time ever, skateboarding will be an Olympic sport at the Tokyo Olympic Games later this summer.
The rising stars of the sport will get to debut skateboarding on the global stage. Meet two of them — and two boarding icons who helped establish the sport and make it accessible to all.
Lizzie Armanto is one of the rising stars of skateboarding. Born in 1993 in Santa Monica, California, she started skateboarding in 2007.
She was the first female skater to complete the Tony Hawk 360-degree ramp, known as the Loop, and she won the debut Women’s Skateboard Park event at the X Games in 2013.
In October 2020, Armanto was injured and had to take a break. However, the skateboarder — who has dual American and Finnish citizenship — has since recovered and has secured a spot on Finland’s Olympic team.
At the Tokyo Olympic Games, “so many people are going to see skateboarding for the first time,” Armanto told The New York Times. “And I think they will be pretty surprised. The girls do a lot of the same tricks as the guys. We fall as hard. We get up as fast. We keep trying more and harder things.”
Nyjah Huston was born in 1994 in Davis, California. His love for skateboarding started when he was 5, as his father taught him how to ride. At 11, he became the youngest competitor at the X Games. Soon after, he started winning Street League Championships, and he’ll be representing the U.S. at the Olympics this summer.
Huston is proud to have a vegan diet, which means he does not eat meat or animal products like dairy. According to his official website, he thinks that’s why he’s never broken a bone.
After a few years living in Puerto Rico with his family, Huston returned to competitive skateboarding in 2010 with his mother’s support. He was even the first to record a 270-degrees kickflip lipslide in 2013.
Huston wants to use his position to help others. In Puerto Rico, he sometimes did not have access to running water. He’s since started Let It Flow, a nonprofit that improves access to clean water around the world. According to People Magazine, the charity restored 15 wells in Ethiopia in 2015.
Tony Hawk, who was born in 1968, was a professional skater by the age of 14. By 16, he was one of the top skateboarders in the world.
His skating career lasted 17 years and was full of achievements and challenges. He won dozens of skateboarding contests, including two gold medals in the X Games. He was the creator of the “900” in 1999, a skateboarding trick of rotating 900 degrees in midair.
He founded his own skateboarding company, Birdhouse, and a popular video game series that featured himself and other rising stars of skateboarding.
Hawk retired from competitions in 2003, but he still skates and appears at events. His foundation, The Skatepark Project, has helped build more than 600 skateparks around the U.S.
His secret to success? “I never quit,” he told NPR. “That’s my only secret.”
Stevie Williams was born in 1979 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and started skating when he was 11. His efforts to make skateboarding more inclusive earned him his spot as one of Transworld Skateboarding’s “30 Most Influential Skaters of All Time'' in 2011.
In 2004, he started the Educated to Skate foundation, which serves at-risk youth in Philadelphia, with his father. He also started the clothing line DGK, or Dirty Ghetto Kids, in 2002. He wanted to use the term “dirty ghetto kids” so it could become a term that isn’t used to put others down.
Williams has been skating for 30 years and still is an active skater, whether that being with his son, his team, or the kids he’s taught.
Mishka MohamedNour is a student at West High School and an editor, reporter and designer for the West Side Story.