On Fire: Lizzie Armanto

Trevor Brown, Jr./ESPN

Lizzie Armanto wasn't feeling great. She'd slammed hard a couple days earlier but was told to come to Brighton Zeuner's backyard in Encinitas, California, to skate vert. It was March 2017 and Tony Hawk and crew were shooting the intro for an upcoming Birdhouse video. Armanto was late and remembers noticing that everybody was "freaking out" about her tardiness.

"I went and was like, 'What am I doing here?'" she says. "I'm literally just background because right now, my body is toasted."

But Armanto, 24, tried to skate anyway, falling on two of her three runs. "It wasn't like I fell," she says. "I slammed."

So she sat in the grass at the side of the ramp and watched. Skateboard legend Jeff Grosso dropped in for a run. He went for a Madonna but seemed to bail intentionally. Feigning injury, he limped toward Armanto with something protruding under his t-shirt. He pulled out a copy of Thrasher magazine with Armanto on the cover and said, "Welcome to the big leagues, sweetheart." Surrounded by cameras, Hawk walked over, hugged her and whipped out a skate deck from behind his back. "We love you," he said. "And here's your first pro model."

Armanto, a Santa Monica, California, native, was suddenly a pro, and the Thrasher cover was something only two women before her had achieved. She says it was all too much to take in at the time. "It's like, here's the mag, here's your board. I was...in shock."

But Armanto certainly didn't sneak up on anybody; she's been burning up the skateboarding world for years. And there's no doubt Lizzie has inspired a legion of young girls taking the parks -- and soon the X Games -- by storm.

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  • Put out a top-shelf, heavily-trafficked video part titled "Fire" with Thrasher in April 2017. Is working on a full part for Birdhouse.
  • Along with a bevy of skate-focused sponsors, Armanto also worked on major ad campaigns with corporate behemoths Target and Kellogg's earlier in 2017.
  • Made history in November 2016 by becoming the first woman to grace the cover of Transworld Skateboarding. A few months later, she was the first woman to make a Thrasher cover in 24 years (she's the third ever to do it).
  • Armanto recognizes that she's breaking ground for women in skateboarding but says she's just doing what she loves; the rest is added benefit. She's fine with that even though the "female skateboarder" label sometimes carries undertones of the "you're good, for a girl" dismissal: "I'm not trying to be a role model. I am, in a sense, a possibility model," she says, referencing a term used by friend Kim Woozy, the founder of Mahfia, an action-sports video and production company highlighting women in skateboarding. "I found what I love to do, and I've seen first-hand that it inspires women, and kids, whether they be male or female. I happen to be that person [who inspires them]."
  • Says she's working most on time management, especially as new opportunities and the pressures of being a pro skateboarder crowd her life. Learning how to say "no" has been key. She thinks about priorities in terms of what must be done to make time for family, spend time with her skater boyfriend, Axel Cruysberghs, and fulfilling obligations to sponsors, but also pushing herself on her skateboard. First up: "cramming" to finish a video part for Birdhouse.
  • Had been living at Brighton Zeuner's house in Encinitas (26 miles north of San Diego) and moved into her own place in the same city after XG Austin 2016.
  • Hopes to find time for some personal travel during summer 2017, but, being the private person that she is, won't say where she wants to go.

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