Tony Hawk. Rob Dyrdek. Bam Margera. These are a few of the male skateboarders who have made a name for themselves on and off the pro tour for their mind-bending tricks and prevalent pop culture presence. But there hasn’t yet been anyone on the women’s side who has transcended the sport and entered the mainstream to become a household name.
That could all change with skateboarding being added to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic program. And there are a crop of young skaters who are looking to capitalize on the opportunity, including 2017 X Games silver medalist Jordyn Barratt.
“I’m so excited,” the 18-year-old told Excelle Sports. “I want to be one of the females that changes girl skateboarding for future generations and make it so they can make a living off of it.”
The skater from Hale’iwa, Hawaii, has already won two X Games medals in the skate park event in 2016 and 2017 (bronze and silver, respectively). Some call her a “trailblazer” as she was the only female athlete to qualify and compete at the Dew Tour last June. All her life, Barratt has learned how to hang with the boys.
“When I first started, I was the only girl,” said Barratt. “I never saw another girl [at the skate park] until I was 14. I would only skate with like older 25-year-old guys, and they were mentors and big brothers to me. But some girls see it differently than I do. I just kind of skate. I don’t see myself as a ‘girl skater.’ I’m a skater. I skate with guys and girls and that’s just how I am.”
Now living in in Encinitas, Calif., she skates with 52-year-old legend Steve Caballero, who reigned in the Tony Hawk era during the 80s. Caballero is particularly known for inventing difficult tricks and air variations as well as breaking the record for the highest air ever achieved on a halfpipe. Barratt is honored to call him a mentor, she said.
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Besides being coached by the best, Barratt’s skating style stands out because of years of surfing growing up in Hawaii. In 2016, she became the first female junior pro surfer to compete both in surfing and skating at the Vans US Open.
“People always tell me that I have a surfy style [when I skate],” said Barratt. “I kind of do the same motions that I do on a surfboard on a ramp so they definitely feed into each other.”
Interestingly enough, the IOC also added surfing to the 2020 Olympic program, which forced Barratt to choose between two sports she loved.
“It’s really hard to do both at a super high level,” she said. “I feel like I’m more into skating now, and I think have a better chance [at winning].”
She’s also excited for how the Olympics will improve skating for women. Such widespread, international attention will bring talented female skaters into the limelight, which Barratt hopes will encourage more contests to offer equal prize money and convince brands to sponsor more women.
Even though the X Games have offered equal prize money since 2008, many competitions around the world have yet to follow suit. For example, the Australian Bowl Riding Championships just started awarding women cash prizes this year, but the female winner received $500 while the male winner took home $5,000.
“Surfing is definitely more equal contest-wise with prize money and all of that,” Barratt said. “Skating is definitely going into that direction, especially with the Olympics coming. Girls are now starting to get their pro-model boards and getting on covers of magazines now so that’s a huge step in the right direction.”
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Still, it’s hard for female skaters to sustain a living based on what little cash prizes are available to women today. And even then, each woman has to deal with the pressure of winning to secure that income, so instead they look to sponsors for additional support.
Barratt may skate for brands like Vans, Powell Peralta, Bones and Black & Decker, but she still finds that she needs to find another way to make money to pay for travel and competitions. In fact, she even started her own dog walking and puppy sitting business: Jordyn’s Pet Service. She and her golden retriever pup Kula love to hang out with other canines as an additional way to make a living, Barratt said.
This week, the up-and-coming star is headed off to China for the Vans Park Pro Series Championships in Shanghai for a chance to compete in Asia before the Olympics. On Saturday, she will compete against 13-year-old American Brighton Zeuner—who swiped the gold from Barratt at the 2017 X Games—and 17-year-old 2016 X Games champion Kisa Nakamura of Japan.
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It looks like the youth will certainly have an impact on the Olympic medal count come 2020, and if she keeps performing, Barratt could be a part of the revolution.