When it comes to skateboarding, it sometimes seems like men get all the glory. That’s definitely not the case. There are plenty of powerful women skateboarders who’ve earned their place in the skateboarding hall of fame over the years. In fact, women have played a central role in the sport from almost the very beginning.
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Why Does Representation Matter?
Representation is important in all aspects of life. If you look at a sport, activity, or industry and you don’t see yourself represented there, it’s easy to feel like you can’t belong. For young girls looking at the skateboarding industry, it’s important to see other women represented.
That’s the goal of this post – to highlight the best female skaters of all time. You’ll find them across all disciplines, from street skating to vert skating, from the X Games to international sports. Get set because we’re going to explore girl skaters that you may have never heard of before. We’ve listed our picks for the best female skateboarders below, although they are not ranked in order of greatness.
- Leticia Bufoni
Born in Brazil, Bufoni is an X Games champion several times over. She has also earned the distinction of being named among the Most Powerful Women in International Sports by Forbes magazine. Today, she is perhaps the most recognized of all current female skaters, and she regularly adds to her list of accomplishments. She’s also adept at growing her audience, as witnessed by her almost 3 million Instagram followers.
- Lizzie Armanto
Another of today’s best female skateboarders, you might know Armanto from her 2013 gold for Skateboard Park during the X Games. She’s also been responsible for a number of other important milestones, including becoming the first woman to feature on Thrasher’s cover in 24 years and the first female skater to ever appear on the cover of Transworld Skateboarding magazine. In 2017, Tony Hawk’s Birdhouse produced Armanto’s first signature skateboard, which was quickly followed up with a set of pro Bones wheels the very next year.
- Samarria Brevard
A native of Riverside, California, Brevard first rose to fame in the 2013 X Games. She went on to dominate in multiple others, as well as winning the Kimberly Diamond Cup. Her exploits extend beyond the skatepark, though. Back in 2017, Brevard released the first all-female skate film to debut in the US in over a decade, Quit Your Day Job. It’s no wonder she ranks as one of the top female skateboarders in the world.
- Aori Nishimura
Born in Japan, Nishimura first began skating at the young age of seven. She’s mastered major skills over the years and achieved some pretty significant successes as a professional skateboarder. Not only has she won multiple golds in the X Games, but she was crowned World Skateboarding Champion in 2019. Her skills are so awesome that she’s featured in Tony Hawk’s 2020 Pro Skater game.
- Sky Brown
An incredible inspiration to young girls around the world and definitely one of the best female skateboarders today, Sky Brown is what you would call a prodigy. Earning global fame at the young age of 13, Brown has placed fifth in the X Games, third in the World Skateboarding Championships, and taken the Simple Session event in Estonia.
She also placed third in the 2020 Park World Championships. Brown’s success was foretold by the fact that she comes from a skating family and was riding when she was in pre-school.
- Allysha Le
Another of the best female skateboarders who go her start at a very early age, Allysha Le has been on a board since she was seven. A professional skateboarder sponsored by Creature Skateboards and Independent Trucks, Le has competed in the X Games, as well as many other events.
Unlike some of the other female skateboarders on our list, Le is a vert skater primarily. And, while she hails from El Segundo, California, you’ll find her competing across the US and around the world.
- Nora Vasconcellos
A professional skateboarder for Welcome Skateboards and the first female to make the Adidas all-pro team, Vasconcellos has won the Readers’ Choice Award from Transworld, as well as the World Championship.
In 2019, she ranked fourth on Thrasher’s list of the Top 10 Women & Non-Binary Skaters. She also took first place in the Vans Park Series World Championships in 2017. Interestingly, Vasconcellos moved from California to Massachusetts in order to pursue her career in skateboarding (it took just five years from the move until she was a pro).
- Rayassa Leal
One of the youngest female skateboarders to win big, Leal took the Women’s Street League World Tour Final at just 11 years of age. Since then, she’s placed third in another, plus fourth in the X Games (her first-ever appearance in those).
Leal hails from Brazil and has become known not just for her prowess on a board, but her unconventional approach to the sport, particularly with her Instagram account, where you can find clips of her skating in tutus and other non-traditional gear. Her Instagram savvy also landed her a part in a Berrics video filmed at their skatepark.
- Alexis Sablone
A dedicated street skateboarder, Alexis Sablone is well known for her role as one of the original Thrasher’s King of the Road crew back in 2003. She’s also been highlighted in numerous videos by companies ranging from WKND to New Balance and the Firm.
She’s also a seasoned veteran of the X Games, where she’s won multiple gold, silver, and bronze medals. However, her skills go far beyond the street. She earned a degree in architecture from MIT and has been using her knowledge to create incredible sculptures around the world that are fully skateable.
- Alana Smith
Born in Mesa, Arizona, Alana Smith is a world-renowned female skater. She ranks as one of he best female skateboarders in the world for several different reasons, including landing a 540 McTwist in the X Games at the age of 12. Alana Smith was the first female professional skateboarder to achieve that.
Alana Smith also became the first ever openly non-binary athlete to compete at the Olympics when she took part in the 2020 Summer Games as a member of the Olympic skateboarding team. The goofy-footed skater has also made waves through becoming a female brand ambassador for the Tactics boardshop, along with Nora Vasconcellos.
- Elissa Steamer
Born in Fort Myers, Florida, Elissa Steamer ranks as one of the best female skateboarders in the world for many reasons. She has consistently earned top spots in competitions throughout the US, Canada, Germany, Australia, and the rest of the world.
As a female skateboarder, Elissa Steamer has also appeared as a playable character in several different video games, including Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series (Elissa Steamer appeared in the first five titles). She has also worked with a broad range of well-known board manufacturers and other skate companies, including Toy Machine, The Firm, Bootleg, Baker, and Zero.
- Vanessa Torres
Born in Anaheim, California, Vanessa Torres ranks as one of the top women skateboarders in the world for her proficiency in street skating, as well as appearing in skateboard videos like Quit Your Day Job and AKA: Girl Skater.
She’s also recognized as the first woman to ever win a gold medal in the X Games (2003, in the street event, which was called Park at the time). Since then, Torres has gone on to win silver and bronze in other X Games events, as well as placing in the top 10 in the X Games Street Competition multiple years in a row.
- Cara-Beth Burnside
Dubbed CB, Burnside is a female skateboarder from Orange, California. She ranks as one of the top female skateboarders in the world, and is also one of the most proficient snowboarders. Burnside has earned more than 16 different titles in various events around the world, including the X Games, Vans Triple Crown, Soul Bowl, and the All Girl Skate Jam to name just a few.
She was also named Female Vert Skater of the Year in 2004. Notably, Burnside is also a playable character in several video games thanks to her skills in the real world, including Tony Hawk: Ride and Grind Session. You may also know her as a member of the Olympic snowboarding team.
- Lyn-Z Adams Hawkins
Born Lindsey and later deciding to spell her name with a Z and a hyphen, Lyn-Z Adams Hawkins is at the forefront of the professional skating industry. SHe began skating at the age of six and has consistently improved her game over time.
Today, she is just one of a handful of skaters, much less female skaters, to have taken the DC Mega Ramp (and she was the first female skater to achieve it). She’s also taken top honors in the X Games, winning gold for the women’s vert two years in a row. She is also the first of all female skaters to land a 540 McTwist.
- Pamela Rosa
Pamela Rosa is a Brazilian and one of the best female skateboarders on the planet. At the age of just 20, she has earned 6 X Games medals, taken first place in the 2019 Street League Skateboarding Tour, and represented her country in the 2020 Olympics.
She has also won twice at the Dew Tour Long Beach. As a professional skateboarder, Rosa has earned money from sponsorships and as prizes, but rather than putting it all toward her own good, she paid for her younger sister to go to college and helped to bring her family out of poverty.
- Amelia Brodka
Born in Poland, Brodka emigrated to the United States in 1996. She picked up skateboarding at the age of 12, but it wasn’t until she saw the 2002 X Games in Philadelphia that she was really bitten by the skating bug. By 2009, she was a professional skateboarder, although she noticed a significant lack of opportunities for women in the sport, which became her college thesis.
Brodka is an all-around skater who does well in vert, park, and bowl competitions. She is also the co-founder of Exposure Skate Organization, which is dedicated to empowering women and girls through skating.
Other Notable Women in the Sport
The list we’ve compiled is far from exhaustive. There are many other noteworthy female skateboarders out there, as well as numerous up-and-coming talents as more women and girls forge their way in the industry. Some of the other notable athletes include:
- Leo (Lacey) Baker
- Amy Caron
- Lauren Mollica
- Alex White
- Kenna Gallagher
What Does It Take to Be One of the Best Female Skaters?
Achieving greatness is always subjective. For some of the amazing athletes on our list, it came by being the first woman to achieve a stunt, skate a park, or win a medal in a particular event. For others, it came through accomplishments at an early age. However, you do not need to have started skating at a very young age.
So, what does it require? Passion is perhaps the single most important element of success. Add to that a dash of competitiveness and a love for sports and you’re well on your way.
In addition to passion, competitive skaters should be driven, not just to succeed, but to have fun and try new things. No one has ever mastered a new skateboard trick by avoiding new stuff and sticking to the tried and true.
What Can Parents Do to Encourage Their Children?
Are you the parent of an adventurous little girl who loves to compete? If so, skating could be her jam. The most important thing is not to cut off her opportunities. Yes, skateboarding can be dangerous, but that doesn’t mean that it’s no place for girls, as you can tell from the list of female skateboarder superstars we’ve just examined.
Young skateboarders should be encouraged. It also helps if parents buy them the right gear. That means avoiding cheap skateboards like those found at Walmart (unless it’s literally just a trial board to see if your child is interested). A high-quality board, good trucks and wheels, and professional-grade safety equipment will help ensure that your young skater is prepared for whatever the pavement might throw her way.