Lizzie Does The Loop

Ms. Armanto goes where no skateboarding woman has gone before – all the way around Tony Hawk’s notorious loop. Though many have tried, many more have gotten spat out in spectacular fashion. We caught up with Lizzie to hear about her mental and physical battle with skateboarding’s most terrifying terrain. Congrats, Lizzie! – Michael Burnett

lizzie 001 750pxRiding the sky!     Photos: Burnett

Had you tried this before?
I tried it the day before. They were having a practice session and said they wouldn’t be taking down the pads, we would have to come back the next day. 

Lizzy PQ 1 750px
So the technique is to warm up by using a bunch of pads to crash into, right? Was there anything in your skate experience that prepared you for trying the loop?
Not really. I feel like skating transition doesn’t necessarily help. It helps with the roll in but outside of that my transition skills had to go out the window. Usually you go up the wall and look at your landing. You can see your landing before you go up the wall, essentially. Usually when you go up you pump or you turn. All of the knowledge I had before about skateboarding went out the window in one sense. You have to be confident and feel good on the board. 

lizzie 002 750pxAround and into the crash pads

Had you ever done a cradle before or any sort of upside-down-y thing?
I mean, my home park in Santa Monica that I started skating at, they have an oververt section. I’ve done cradles before but I don't think that I’m the best at them. 

Lizzy PQ 2 750px
What kind of advice was everyone giving you? I saw people sidling up next to you and letting you know their special insight. Was anything they were telling you helpful?
The day before I had no idea. I was way further off. Tony and a few other people, like Bucky, were giving me all the advice they could. It sounded like there are a couple different techniques. I would just hear them all and some of it resonated once I tried. In the beginning it all just happened so fast and it was hard to pinpoint the differences in what I was doing. It wasn’t until Shawn Hale was, like, “You don’t pump at all,” that it started to make sense. I thought you roll in, get your first pump up and hold. But they were, like, “No, no, no. Don’t pump at all.” So I was just, like,“Take it and basically be like plastic, like freeze and just ride it out.” Once I did that and stopped pumping up the first wall, I was able to get around much further. Then I was able to start figuring it out. Everyone was saying that, but it doesn’t make sense. Everyone was giving advice but until you physically do it, it doesn't resonate. 

lizzie 003 750pxPull the pads?

lizzie 004 750pxThe Bird knew she had it

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Remember the first kid who tried it, Jeromy Green, he kinda ran back into the up-ramp? Did that freak you out?
So I guess Jeromy went up and came straight back down instead of carving out to the right. He want straight back around and went into the entrance. When I was trying it with the pads I was doing a similar thing, I wasn’t staying on the line or on the opposite far side of the line where you wanted to be. But then Tony said as the pads go away you can spot your landing better. Every time you’re going into the pads you’re not spotting a landing you’re just spotting going into the pads. So once Jeromy tried, he went from all the pads to nothing. He never got the in-between to figure it out. There was no adjustment, just a flip. He just went from the safe way to one hundred. That’s why he went back into the entrance. He slammed on his face and that was so gnarly. He was, like, “I’m fine, I’m fine” but he chipped his tooth. He was talking to me right after and I was so freaked out. A long time ago in Combi I chipped my front teeth and I had the biggest mental block after that. I had a cloud following me for a couple months. It all happened so fast when I did it and I felt helpless. Having to see Jeromy do that brought those memories back. I was just, like, “Get away from me.” Not in a mean way. Like, “Jeromy you’re doing awesome. I can’t talk to you right now.” He was covering his lip because I couldn’t deal with it. The energy was so different between people trying. There are people who are trying and figuring it out and they’re in a good mood and then there were people who are just so scared. They reek of fear. Dudes up there are so scared. You can see by what they’re doing with their body and in the way that they talk. They’re trying to get it out and they're very vocal about it. It’s so easy for that fear to jump onto you. The day before it was Shawn, Aaron (Homoki) and we were in a little pack. We would just go, go, go. Each one of us would say, “Okay. You got this.” We would be in a good headspace. Talking to other people who are sketchy or people who are scared, you have to just shut them out. 

That’s wild. Was there a point where you could see your landing and see your way out?
Yeah. I think once I took half of the pads out and I was going straight into the bag. There’s a pass basically when you get low enough and you’re on your way. 

When they first took the pads out, what was going on in your brain?
It was the same. Up until that point, my tries were pretty consistent. You can slam going into the pads. Pretty much every time I was trying I was trying to figure out the last bit. Before they were moving them, I tried to make sure they were out so I could see my landing. When the pads were there it kind of looked the same. I always focused on looking for the way out. As long as I was making it around I knew I was fine. Having Aaron, Tony and Shawn there to help me through it made all the difference in the world. 

lizzie 005 750px
Right before you went Jaws hit you with his famous hand lock. 
Yeah, his energy grab. It works!

lizzie 006 750pxHere goes nothin’

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It looked like smooth sailing except for that first one where you went to your knees. What happened with that one?
I think I must’ve pumped a little. It’s hard to recall, honestly. There was a portion where it was, like, try, go back, try, go back. It kind of blurs together. That’s good though because it doesn’t give you time to think about it. If I had any time to think, I would look at this thing and be like, this is crazy, what is wrong with everybody? It’s scary trying it, but it’s scary for everyone around it. 

lizzie 007 750pxKnee slide at 12 o’ clock!

lizzie 008 750pxSafe!

Terrifying. So, what did it feel like to roll away?
It felt crazy. You don’t know until you’re far away from it that you made it. It happens fast but at the same time it happens very slow. Making it isn’t as scary as trying to make it. Once you make it you’re like, “Oh that’s it.” It’s still terrifying every time I look at it. That thing is not mellow.

What do you think about the Boom Boom Huck Jam when those guys were doing it every single night? Could you see yourself getting that comfortable?
I think so. Once I was trying it without pads I was making it all the way around. I feel like I had five or six tries and I was making it out really good. In my head, once you go down the roll in you're committed until you come out the other side. Once you’re down the roll in you can’t choose not to do it. That’s so counterintuitive because in transition skating you have a setup. There’s none of that. You just do it. You know how if someone bails first wall, everyone catches it? This is only a first-wall type deal. 

Lizzy PQ 5 750px
lizzie 009 750pxAttempt number two

lizzie 010 750pxOver the handlebars

Is it special to be the first woman to do the loop? 
For me the draw of the loop is that it’s a very small, select group of skateboarders. There’s a lot of people who are very talented who just haven’t figured it out, or that have tried and failed. I guess I feel like I’m on the cusp of more skaters doing it, and that includes females. It had a different feeling to it. I think having the female approach made it different. 

lizzie 011 750px
How so?
Not that every guy is the same, but I think the male approach to something like this is, “Get the courage and just do it.” Whereas I feel like I was calculated about it and if I could figure out the technique. If I’m not scared enough to figure out the technique I knew I had it. 

Not so much just, “Fuck it?”
There is a level of “fuck it” and to be like, “forget everything I know.” You could also do it out of anger. There’s a tone to that. There are some people that operate on that level. At the same time, I can’t speak for all women. With Jeromy, at least with him, he was going into the pads and was looking consistent. Then he was just, like, “Fuck it. I’m doing it. Take out all the pads.” Whereas every step of figuring out how to get around, I wanted it broken down. The loop isn’t safe by any means. People get wrecked and hearing about the injuries that have happened to amazing skateboarders is terrifying. I was asking people not to tell me just so I could not make that a possibility. 

lizzie 013 750pxFuck it?

“Please don’t tell me that story.”
Pretty much.

Would you ever want to do this again? Or is this a one-time deal?
I don’t have a draw to do it again but I absolutely think I can. As long as I feel good on a skateboard and I’m in the right headspace, it’s totally possible. I personally didn't think I would be doing the loop. Even last night, I was with Aaron and Shawn. They talked between themselves and they thought Shawn was gonna do it and I was going to shy away. Just from Saturday’s practice. Shawn had it dialed and he looked like he could do it. I hadn't figured out the technique and sometimes it’s either you got it or you don’t. 

lizzie 015 750pxShe hit the ground running

Lizzy PQ 6 750px
How’d you sleep last night?
I slept good because I was in my own bed. Definitely not the best. I woke up a little early, I wanted to sleep for days. I could snooze for way longer. 

What else could you tell us about this experience?
Since Tony had first mentioned the loop it creeped me out. He told me that the people who make the loop are the ones who see it and are, like, “I have to do this.” They say beforehand that it’s a thing they want to do. With me, I never felt that way. I knew that I wanted to see the loop in person before saying whether I’m going to do it or not, or that I’m even down to try it. Seeing photos serves it no justice. In person it’s huge and terrifying. I knew that if I made any type of judgment before trying it that I would stop myself. Every bit of common sense tells you this is wrong. There’s no rationalizing it. Up until I tried it once, I didn’t allow myself to have any feelings about the loop. 

Lizzy SeqThe make!

Do you think this is going to change your outlook on skating and what you're capable of in general?
I don’t think so. Even though I didn't want to acknowledge it, I knew deep down if I tried that I could do it. I never acknowledged that before trying. Just cause there’s no gauge for it. 

lizzie 017 750pxOh yeah!

lizzie 018 750px
lizzie 019 750pxThe support group.

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Jeez. I couldn’t even imagine it. I understand what people are saying about how to do it but there’s just no way. I was telling somebody, “I’m not brave enough or skilled enough to do this.”
Remember when you were taking photos at the bottom, did you ever look at the wall going up?

lizzie 021 750pxStill trippin’

Yeah. It’s so freaky. There’s no way.
The less you think, the better the outcome.

lizzie 023 750pxCongrats, Lizzie! Thanks, Tony!


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