At the aptly named Manly Beach, the location of Australia's men's professional skateboarding competition, Bowl-A-Rama Bondi, 21-year-old Lizzie Armanto, a slender Californian, is the only girl pushing her limits against fierce competition from the world's best pro skaters. Two years ago she skated two of the events. This year, she's adding a third. But with thrilling verve and a distinctive style all her own, she's much, much more than just one of the boys.
How’s the contest going so far?
I missed my plane, so that put a damper on my practice schedule, but I got on another flight, took the train here, went straight into the competition and placed 16th.
You're from Santa Monica. Did the skate ramps in Venice Beach influence you?
When I started, the Venice skate park wasn't what it is today. But Santa Monica is where transitional skating started, so it partly shaped who I am. It was really my brother who got me into skating, because he wanted to try it.
A lot of people imitate ‘skating style’ without skating themselves. Do you ever think about starting your own brand?
Some day I'd like to have a clothing line, which would be skateboard influenced, for sure.
Most people wear t-shirts and jeans, although there’s no real uniform. I have my own style.
How would you define your style?
I usually try not to wear anything I wouldn't skate in, in case I end up skating with somebody. But today I'm in beachwear, though it's usually jeans and a tank top. For skating, I wear clothes that are feminine but functional.
When you're not competing, how often do you skate?
It depends where I am, as I move between LA and San Diego, but roughly six or seven days a week, afternoons or evenings, with a few friends.
What about skating in the street—is there a big difference?
I'll cruise down the street to go somewhere, otherwise no. In street skating you have to find a spot, and there are different types: you can skate ledges, rails, gaps, walls—stuff you find on the streets. What I do is transition skateboarding, which is more park-based.
Are there other girls out in Australia competing in the boys' category?
No, only myself—although there are girls coming up. Competing in the men's event pushes me. I used to watch this event, then two years ago I decided to do it. Often there isn't a women's edition, anyway, so you sometimes have no choice. It's daunting because it’s so challenging—I know what I'm up against as the only girl in a men's contest.
Have you any words of wisdom for a skater starting out in competitions?
There's only one first place, so most people end up disappointed. But it's all about the experience, so focus on your personal best and not so much on the results. But if you're first and had a good day, enjoy it!