Chinese Association of Idaho State University (CAISU)
Women ride the skateboard phenomenon
When the Chinese street skateboarder Yang Liuqing encountered US park skateboarder Lizzie Armanto at the Vans Park Series Pro Tour finals last year, the world’s top men’s and women’s park terrain skateboarding competition held in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, in October, Yang said she felt a connection with Armanto.Children skateboarding in Shanghai
Speaking about the meeting, Yang, 28, said: “That’s the beauty of skateboarding; we don’t need to talk because we skateboarders have this kind of understanding.”
Yang, one of the most popular female skateboarders in China, was in Suzhou as she was invited to watch the final showcase of the world tour, which pitted the top-ranking 2018 Pro Tour athletes against select VPS continental champions. Armanto competed in the semi-final but was eliminated.
Armanto is one of the most accomplished female skateboarders in the history of the sport. In 2016, she became the first woman to ever grace the cover of Transworld, the skateboarding magazine. And in August the 25-year-old became the first female skateboarder to complete the loop, a 360-degree ramp.Yang and Armanto first met more than a year ago when the world tour first entered China in Shanghai in October 2017, an event in which Armanto was fourth. And after the women’s semi-final, Yang and Armanto got a chance to sit together and talk about themselves and skateboarding.
Armanto said she found the number of women skateboarders is growing in her country compared with when she started in 2007. Then it was rare to see another female skateboarding, but now it is hard to find a park without a woman practising skateboarding, she said. “Skateboarding can be really hard mentally and physically. It’s scary to learn tricks in your mind, so I think it takes a certain kind of person to be a skateboarder.
“But the sport inspires me in so many ways. I get to travel a lot through skateboarding. You can see cities and get to know people there, and get an insight into their homes, which is different from any other way of knowing the world.To be a skateboarder, Armanto said, you have to learn from scratch and be patient. “You have to learn how to fall so that you don’t get hurt. And you have to learn recovery when you get hurt.”
The first trick Yang learned was the ollie, where the rider with the board leaps into the air without the use of hands. Even though it took Yang a whole year to perfect it, she felt very proud when she could manage to do it.
Yang said: “It’s just a piece of wood. So, when you do the trick, people are amazed and many think you have a magnet on your board.“I enjoy the success of each new trick, and it makes me want to learn something more challenging.”
Yang, who was born and raised in Xi’an, Northwest China’s Shaanxi province, started to learn skateboarding 10 years ago when she just wanted to find something to ride instead of walking. She said: “For a bicycle, you have to find a place to lock it, and for roller skating you have to carry the shoes all the time. I think the skateboard is the perfect device for transportation on the road.Also, earlier, when I had short hair and dressed like a tomboy, I used to worry about what people thought of me, but ever since I began skateboarding, I don’t care that much, and think people see me as cool.”
Yang took part in her first competition in 2012 in Xi’an, after four years of practice. “Then there was no women’s group at the competition because female skateboarders were so few, so I had to compete with men.”
She set herself a goal of jumping off six steps in that competition, but could not make it in the last minute. “I was pretty much the worst in that competition, while all the male skateboarders were busy flying around.”
Yang said the contest’s presenter noticed her struggling and called on audience members to cheer for her. “He said I needed more encouragement, and led the audience to call my name loudly and applaud for me, and they did. I was so encouraged and finally did that trick.