Los Angeles

If an athlete has half a million followers on Instagram and as many on Facebook, he or she will constantly receive packages in the mail.

They come unsolicited and can contain almost anything.

This time, Lizzie Armanto has got a transparent face mask in the package that follows the shape of the nose and covers the nostrils.

He will try it out on a May morning in his backyard in Long Beach, a metropolitan area of ​​Los Angeles.

- This is weird, Armanto laughs.

The article has been published for the first time in Urheilulehti issue 28/2021.

You can find the magazine Ordering Instructions here.

Armanto is not posing wearing a mask on social media.

The mask manufacturer is left without the visibility provided by the skater.

The same goes for virtually all the products Armanto receives.

Yes, Armanto sometimes cooperates commercially on social media, but it comes at a price.

Manager Carl Harris suggests that a skater earns a seven-figure sum a year from partners.

Who

Lizzie Armanto

Photo: Vanessa R. Kessler

Full name: Elizabeth Marika Armanto.

Born: January 26, 1993 in Ventura, California.

Place of residence: Long Beach, California.

Citizenship: Finland and the United States.

Marital status: Married.

Spouse Axel Cruysberghs will represent Belgium in men’s street skating at the Olympics.

Other: Appears as a playable character in Tony Hawk series skate games.

By far the most watched member of the Finnish Olympic team on social media.

Skating is the official Olympics for the first time at the Tokyo Olympics and Armanto, 28, is one of the favorites in the Women’s Park.

Skating is more popular than ever, and the U.S. Olympic champion in the sport could rise to become one of the world’s most lucrative female athletes.

However, in the autumn of 2019, Armanto announced that he would represent his father's homeland, Finland, at the Olympics.

Commercially, the solution doesn’t make sense, Harris has also made it clear to his protector.

Armanto’s sponsors made no secret of the fact that they wanted him to play sports in U.S. colors.

Not all Armannon Followers understood the decision.

Some suspected he wanted to find an easy way to the Olympics.

As Finland's representative, Armannon does not have to worry about whether he can fit in the land quota of three athletes.

However, that is not the case.

Armanto was eventually Fifth in the Olympic rankings, higher than any American.

Armanto simply didn’t want to take the Olympic venue from one of the Americans who deserved it.

Thanks to his decision, Jordyn Barratt, who was ranked 13th in the world rankings, will be eligible for the Games.

If Armanto had gone to Tokyo with a U.S. quota, Shranee Collins, an Australian in 28th place, would have joined instead of Barratt.

In women's skateboarding, the level difference between the 13th and 28th in the rankings is so great that even a layman distinguishes it.

Armanto simply wants the sport to show its best side in its debut at the Olympics.

Photo: Vanessa R. Kessler

Armanto opens up his thought process in a way that says a lot about his philosophy of life.

- When I started skating, I didn't do it to make a lot of money.

I get so much more from skateboarding.

I’m really grateful just for making a living from skateboarding, Armanto says.

- When I wake up, I can do what I want.

I can choose for myself.

Many people feel they have no choice.

And even if they were, they don’t always choose the option they really would like.

I don’t want to give up my freedom for the sake of money.

"

When I started skating, I didn’t do it to make a huge amount of money.

Okay, I know what many of the readers are now thinking: Again, the story of a lifestyle athlete who claims he is not interested in money and success, but in freedom and fun.

Didn’t we read these enough when snowboarding became an Olympic sport?

However, Lizzie Armanto does not easily sit on stereotypes.

He is doing his best to succeed in the Olympics.

He eats carefully and maintains his body under the guidance of a physiotherapist.

He built a three-foot-high ramp in his backyard where he could continue training during a coronavirus pandemic.

Skating really is in a very similar situation to snowboarding a quarter of a century ago.

Boarding came to the Olympic program in Nagano in 1998, and some of its cult figures nibbled their noses at the Olympics.

Sports legend Terje Håkonsen boycotted the Games and called the International Olympic Committee a “mafia”.

Similarly, some skaters think the sport is a subculture to which the strict rules of the Olympics, open nationalism, and greedy commercialism are ill-suited.

In the sport community, not everyone values ​​skaters who seem to take the Olympics too seriously.

- After all, skaters don't really compete seriously against each other, but we are all casual friends with each other and skate together with others.

The Olympics are a bit too true for skateboarding, Jaakko Ojanen, the big name in Finnish skateboarding, told Helsingin Sanomat in February 2020.

Ojanen participated in the Olympic qualifiers, but stayed far away from the competition venue.

In Tokyo, there are only skaters who compete seriously.

Armanto in the final practice before the Tokyo race.

Photo: Antti Aimo-Koivisto / Lehtikuva

Photo: Antti Aimo-Koivisto / Lehtikuva

Photo: Antti Aimo-Koivisto / Lehtikuva

Photo: Antti Aimo-Koivisto / Lehtikuva

Armanto does not represent the tradition of going skateboarding on the museum stairs, escaping the janitors and filming a video of all this.

He started his hobby in a supervised skate park and has participated in competitions from the beginning.

Still, Armanto has managed to maintain its street credibility, as evidenced by the social media metrics.

A woman striving for a multinational background has also found her place at the interface of different species cultures.

How has he done that?

Let's get back to that point, but first we have to talk about the most significant Finn in the history of skating, Alvar Aalto.

Harry and Maire Gullichsen's house Villa Mairea, completed in 1939, is one of the masterpieces of Finnish architecture.

The house in Noormarkku was designed by Alvar Aalto, a friend of the couple, who used free formal language in his plan.

Even the pool in the house was exceptional: it didn’t have any sharp corners, as until then the pools had always been in the shape of a box sunk into the ground.

Seen from above, the pool was kidney-shaped and had a round bottom.

Villa Mairea's swimming pool.

Photo: Miikka Pirinen

Eight years later, an oil-fired Dewey Donnell private garden was completed in California, which also had a kidney-shaped pool.

Images of the pool spread widely and served as examples of the thousands of pools that began to appear in the growing suburbs of the rapidly prosperous United States.

Donnell’s garden was designed by Thomas Church, who was a friend of Alvar Aalto.

Landscape architect Janne Saario estimated in an article by Helsingin Sanomat in 2014 that the example of the pool was Villa Mairea.

- It's a pretty straight copy, Saario said.

When California was hit by an unprecedented drought in 1976-77, many detached homeowners emptied their pools to save water.

The skaters took advantage of the situation.

They jumped over the fences into the backyards, dried out the puddles left at the bottom of the pools, and skated until they were evicted.

The most daring gathered so much momentum in the round-bottomed pools that they managed to jump on their board above the edge of the pool.

The pioneer of the new style was the skate team Zephyr, made up of young surfers in the coastal city of Santa Monica west of downtown Los Angeles.

Photo: Vanessa R. Kessler

Passionate car lover Eero Armanto traveled to Los Angeles in 1988 to look for American irons.

One day he needed a ride to look at a car for sale.

The driver was a dark young woman, an acquaintance of Eero, a guy who lived in Hollywood.

Eva Rubic, a Filipino, enjoyed the company of a young Finnish man.

Eero fell in love with both him and California.

The man decided to stay, and half a year later a wedding was celebrated.

Eva and Eero had two children.

Elizabeth Marika aka Lizzie was born in 1993 and Max in 1999. The couple divorced in 2004 and Eero returned to Finland.

Eva, who was left alone, moved with her children to Santa Monica to be closer to the studio where she worked as an engineer.

He had to find a cheap and safe place for the children where they could wait for their mother after school.

Max wanted to try skateboarding.

The siblings had descended the hills on boards bought by Father Eero earlier, and Evakin had moved on a skateboard in his youth.

Mom didn't need to talk.

- I wanted them to do some outdoor sports instead of watching TV inside, Eva Armanto recalls.

The city of Santa Monica opened the skate park The Cove in 2005 just outside the family home.

A three-month passport there cost $ 25.

Hobbies and afternoon care had been solved cheaply.

Photo: Vanessa R. Kessler

The Cove is still open.

There are only a few skaters on Saturday morning.

There is an ongoing children’s baseball game on the adjacent court.

Sun shines.

The wind blowing from the Pacific Ocean moves the palm press lazily.

The Cove takes its name from the surfing spot favored by Zephyr’s Z boys.

In the empty pools, the legacy of the skaters who developed their tricks is clearly visible there.

A skate park cast in concrete consists of four pools of different sizes and shapes, although there is no water other than rain.

Max’s passion for skating stopped when his teeth broke into The Cove’s concrete, but 14-year-old Lizzie had found her passion.

The girl didn’t know it at the time, but from the beginning, she sucked in influences from the deepest traditions of pool cooking.

- It all started in Santa Monica.

That culture definitely influenced me.

There were a lot of old school skaters in the skate parks of Santa Monica, Armanto says.

According to Armanto, the Santa Monica school can only be identified by the style in which skaters roll along the walls of the pools.

New tricks could be learned by imitating other skaters.

It is probably safe to assume that Armanto would hardly ever have grown into a world-class skater in Finland.

- I do not believe.

There wouldn’t have been the same people around me.

There is, of course, a skate ramp in Lizzie Armanto’s backyard in Los Angeles.

Photo: Vanessa R. Kessler

Photo: Vanessa R. Kessler

Finland's first skate boom was experienced in the 1970s, at the same time as the Z boys rose over the edge of the pool in Santa Monica.

There was already a skate shop in Helsinki at that time.

Mikko Kyrönviita started the sport in the late 1980s, when the second wave of the popularity of skating hit Finland.

That, too, gained momentum all the way from Southern California.

Kyrönviida was inspired in part by Stacy Peralta, an original member of Zephyr, who had moved into a board factory and the film industry.

Peralta directed a skateboarding scene to one of the Police College films.

- I skated a little before Police College 4 came in 1987. It had the team of the Powell Peralta skate company Bones Brigade skating.

It became the last spark that this is a pretty cool thing, Kyrönviita says.

Mikko Kyrönviita.

Photo: Jukka Ritola / Aamulehti

Kyrönviita is currently a researcher at the University of Tampere.

He is doing a dissertation on urban space management through skating.

The researcher has seen the rise and fall of the species in Finland.

According to him, skateboarding is now more popular than ever.

- Visit any major city in Finland and you will notice it.

The species has also diversified a great deal.

Different people skate.

Especially women and girls have discovered the species to an increasing extent, which is really great.

According to Kyrönviida, access to skateboarding for the Olympics was received in a mixed manner in sports circles.

He himself sees it as largely a positive thing.

The sport gets more visibility, new enthusiasts and with it also new hobbies.

- I don't know if skating needs the Olympics per se.

Maybe the Olympics need more skating.

A little stale institution ventilates.

Fact

Skating in Tokyo

Skating is in Tokyo for the first time in the Olympic program.

It is also an official sport at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

At the Olympics, both men and women compete in two types of skating, Park and Street.

20 athletes will participate in each sport.

Finland's only representative is Lizzie Armanto at the Women's Park.

In the park, competitors skate in a concrete skate park, from the edges of which they make jumps.

They will make three 45-second performances in both the semi-finals and the final, with the best judge points remaining valid.

On the street, competitors skate on flat asphalt with various obstacles.

They make two 45-second performances and five tricks in both the semifinals and the finals.

Of these, the four highest judge points remain in effect.

Kyrönviita does not believe that the Olympics could ruin skateboarding.

Competing has been a sport from the beginning.

- There are big competitions in skate culture.

Olympic cooking is the same stuff in format.

Kyrönviita was struck by a fool when he heard about Armanto's decision to represent Finland.

He didn't even know about the Finnish roots of the superstar.

- He is also a big star in the sense that he is valued in skateboarding culture.

His stardom does not depend on the Olympics and the success of the race.

He has long been a stylish skater.

Photo: Vanessa R. Kessler

Style.

It’s a word you come across quickly in skateboarding circles.

Style is extremely important and at the same time somehow difficult to achieve.

It seems that it’s easier for skaters to tell who has a good style than to open up what it means.

- The best way to understand style is to compare it to dance.

It is said that a group of people learn someone’s dance.

But only someone with style makes you feel something in their dance, Armanto explains.

According to Armanto, even the Olympics have survived skaters who know a lot of tricks but have no style.

- They may know how to do a trick according to the textbook, but without style it doesn't look so good or it looks much harder whatever it is.

The style can also be understood more broadly.

It is a way of operating in a skating culture, and it includes, as an integral part, showing respect for the species and its traditions.

This may all sound foreign to competitive sports, but if you think about it more closely, every sport from golf to hockey has its own ideals and codes of conduct.

"

It is said that a group of people learn someone’s dance.

But just someone with style makes you feel something in their dance.

Lizzie Armanno has style in every sense of the word, was from the beginning.

Skip Engblom, the manager of the legendary Zephyr team, had founded the ferry company Santa Monica Airlines after the team disbanded.

The company’s people drew their attention to a girl who had spent a lot of time at a local skate park.

Armanto started getting free boards from SMA even before he had even considered participating in the competitions.

Armanto’s first race was at the legendary Combi Pool in Orange.

He finished ninth and received a $ 200 prize money.

- I was really excited.

I had never competed, let alone prize money.

It was crazy.

I was 16 years old, and $ 200 was big money for me.

Photo: Vanessa R. Kessler

Even more important to Armanto was the atmosphere of the Games.

In pre-race training sessions, he got to skate among the big names in the sport and found the atmosphere encouraging.

The following year, Armanto already began winning races around Southern California.

There were hardly any female professionals at the time, but the people around Armanto saw her potential.

Sport legend Jeff Grosso encouraged him to look for a bigger plate sponsor than SMA.

Not long ago, when the most famous skater of all time Tony Hawk attached Armanto’s own board brand to the Birdhouse team as the only woman.

Hawk is a marketing difference that has amassed more than 100 million euros in assets through skateboarding.

In his team, Armanto got used to shooting various promotional videos in addition to competitions.

The first of these became groundbreaking in late 2013.

Armanto was already injured during the warm-up of the shooting session.

- I knocked on my knees, and my back ligament tore.

I couldn’t skate for over six months.

My mother said I should focus on studying.

Armanto's reaction was the opposite.

He dropped out of school.

- That's when I realized that if I want to be a professional cook, I just have to focus on that.

Otherwise, it would become nothing, Armanto says.

- Luckily I met Carl, and he fixed my sponsorship deal.

Since then, I have been able to focus on skateboarding.

Armanto has won X-Games gold in his career.

She has posed on the cover of the prestigious Thrasher magazine as the first woman in 20 years.

He has a title board and title shoes.

In the video below, Armannon X-Games gold performance from Barcelona 2013.

However, Armanto considers his greatest achievement an act for which he received no better money than prizes.

Armanto is the only woman who has been able to skate without falling through The Loop, the full loop at the highest point of which the skater is head down.

Only twenty skaters have managed to clear the loop.

Many more have tried.

Many of the attempts have ended painfully.

- Winning the X-Games is nowhere near as scary.

There is no similar risk factor involved, Armanto says.

The video below shows Armanto’s full loop, The Loop.

Entä sitten olympialaiset?

Lizzie Armanto on yksi Suomen harvoista mitalikandidaateista Tokiossa. Siellä hän saa jälleen kerran taiteilla kulttuurien rajapinnassa. Hannes Kolehmaisen ja kumppaneiden perintöä kantaa nyt kalifornialainen skeittaaja.

Vaatimaton Armanto ei halua ottaa kansakunnan mitalipaineita harteilleen. Sen tekee hänen puolestaan manageri Harris, joka on ilmoitettu Tokioon Armannon valmentajana.

– Jos hän pysyy pystyssä, en näe, että kukaan voittaa häntä, Harris sanoo.

Harris perustelee arvioitaan Tokion skeittipuiston rakenteella. Suorituspaikka on normaalia suurempi ja suosii kovavauhtisia skeittaajia. Armanto on fyysisesti vahva ja taitava pumppaamaan lisää vauhtia siirtymissä temppujen välissä.

Toinen Armannon vahvuus on hänen monipuolisuutensa. Jotkut skeittaajat suunnittelevat suorituksensa tarkasti etukäteen este esteeltä. Skeittaus on kuitenkin herkkää. Pieni horjahdus tai epäonnistunut alastulo voi syödä vauhdin ja sotkea suunnitelman.

Armanto toimii toisin. Hän on valmis muuttamaan suunnitelmaansa kesken suorituksen.

– Skeittaan harjoituksissa puiston kaikissa eri osissa. Siten tiedän, mitkä osat sopivat yhteen. Se on kuin palapeli, hän kertoo.

Suorituksen aikana Armanto sovittaa palapelin eri osat toisiinsa riippuen muun muassa siitä, miten ja millaisella vauhdilla hän selviää edellisestä tempustaan.

– Skeittaus pysyy minulle hauskana ja jännittävänä, koska voin tehdä mitä vain. Se antaa minulle enemmän motivaatiota kuin se, että minulla olisi paineet tehdä suoritukseni juuri tietyllä tavalla.

Kuva: Antti Aimo-Koivisto / Lehtikuva

Kuva: Antti Aimo-Koivisto / Lehtikuva

Kuva: Antti Aimo-Koivisto / Lehtikuva

Luovuus ja monipuolisuus ovat asioita, jotka tekevät Armannosta arvostetun skeittaajan. Hänellä on tyyliä.

Tekevätkö ne hänestä myös olympiavoittajan? Se on vaikeampi kysymys.

Kaikki olympialaisiin osallistuvat skeittaajat kilpailivat toukokuussa Iowan olympiakarsintakisassa. Kilpailun kärjessä olivat 19-vuotias japanilainen Sakura Yosozumi, 12-vuotias britti Sky Brown ja 15-vuotias japanilainen Misugu Okamoto. He kaikki pystyvät pyörimään ilmassa 540 astetta – temppu, jota Armanto ei ole vielä koskaan tehnyt.

On mahdollista, että skeittaus on juuri nyt taitekohdassa, jonka lumilautailu on jo käynyt läpi: kilpaskeittaajat erikoistuvat yhä akrobaattisempiin temppuihin ja vievät kärkisijat Armannon kaltaisten laji-ikonien edestä.

Armannon monipuolisuus saattaa estää hänen olympiamenestyksensä myös toisella tavalla. Viime lokakuussa Armanto oli muiden Birdhousen skeittaajien kanssa kuvauksissa San Diegon valtavalla Megarampilla ja kärsi elämänsä pahimman onnettomuuden.

Video onnettomuudesta on karmeaa katsottavaa. Armanto menettää lautansa hallinnan hyppyrin nokalla, paiskautuu vasten laskeutumisrampin reunaa kuin räsynukke ja putoaa maahan useiden metrien korkeudesta.

Armannon reisiluu murtui, eikä hän päässyt skeittaamaan yli puoleen vuoteen. Toukokuun olympiakarsinnoissa Armannon itseluottamus oli vielä pahasti hukassa: tuloksena oli 25:s sija.

On vaikea kuvitella, että esimerkiksi Yosozumi tai Okamoto menisivät temppuilemaan vaaralliselle Megarampille alle vuosi ennen olympialaisia.

Armannolle olympiamenestys ei kuitenkaan ole kaikki kaikessa. Hän on jo ansainnut paikkansa lajin historiankirjoissa, eikä hänen toimeentulonsa ole kisoista riippuvainen. Kävi Tokiossa miten tahansa, Armanto palaa kotiinsa Long Beachille skeittaamaan ja hoitamaan kukkiaan.

– Kasvoin kilpaskeittauksen parissa, joten se on leipälajini. Tiedän, että olympialaiset ovat monille muille iso juttu, ja niin ne ovatkin. Ne ovat valtava tilaisuus. Minun asenteeni on kuitenkin sama kuin ennen. Haluan vain tehdä oman parhaan suoritukseni, mikä ikinä se onkaan. Jos onnistun siinä, olen onnellinen, Armanto sanoo.

Kuva: Vanessa R. Kessler