Talking Sexism, Perseverance, and More With 3 Female Skateboarders on Tony Hawk's New Video Game

Victoria Messina

Growing up in the early 2000s, some kids had their Saturday morning ritual of watching cartoons over a bowl of Froot Loops. My brothers and I, on the other hand, preferred scarfing down our Froot Loops before playing one of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater video games for hours on end. Almost every weekend, like clockwork, we'd race to snag the PlayStation controller first and watch each other kickflip, nosegrind, and Indy 900 our way to the highest score, all while head-bobbing to the game's iconic hip-hop and punk soundtrack. It was the perfect way for us to bond over a little old-fashioned sibling rivalry, all while growing an appreciation for the sport of skateboarding.

To this day, Tonk Hawk's video game franchise holds a big, bucket hat-shaped place in my heart. My younger brother and I still routinely jam out to the soundtracks for nostalgia's sake (a pro tip for fellow fans: there are tons of fan-made playlists on Spotlfy!), and I recently repurchased one of the games on eBay because we misplaced the CD a few years ago. So imagine my excitement when Activision released a newly remastered edition on Sept. 4. Titled Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2, the game blends original skateboarders, levels, tricks, and songs from older versions with brand-new choices for players, so yeah, I'm more than ready to see if it lives up to the hype.

Ahead of the game's debut, I caught up with three of the badass female skateboarders featured as playable characters - Aori Nishimura, Elissa Steamer, and Lizzie Armanto - to chat about what first inspired them to pick up a board, their personal experiences with sexism in the sport, and more. Learn a bit more about each talented athlete below before diving into our conversations ahead.

  • Aori Nishimura: A brand-new addition to the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater franchise, Aori is expected to represent her home country of Japan in the rescheduled Summer Olympics Games next year. At just 19 years old, she's already got five X Games medals under her belt and was named the women's world skateboarding champion at a Street League event last January.

  • Elissa Steamer: The only woman featured on Tony Hawk's first two video games, Elissa is a four-time X Games gold medalist who's been crushing it at the sport since the '90s. She launched a skate brand called Gnarhunters and was featured in a Nike ad alongside other female athletes last year, to name just a few recent notable accomplishments from her legendary career.

  • Lizzie Armanto: A 27-year-old skateboarder with more than 30 awards to her name, Lizzie first became a playable character on THPS 5 back in 2015. She'll be representing Finland while competing in the women's park skateboarding competition at the Olympics next year, and fun fact: she's the only gal in the world to successfully complete Tony Hawk's 360 loop, a ramp constructed into a perfect circle.