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X Games Austin 2016 Q&A: Alana Smith


​In 2012, skateboarder Alana Smith became the first woman to land a McTwist (a combination of a front flip and a 540 degree spin — one and a half turns in the air! — while grabbing the board) in a competition. A few months later, in 2013, Alana was at it again. This time she became the youngest X Games medalist in history when she captured silver in the Women's Park. And she’s been rolling ever since. 

After her backflip won best trick at the Kimberley Diamond Cup Mini Mega contest in 2014, then picking up victories at the Girls Combi Classic and Vert Attack 9 in 2015, the 15-year-old Arizona native plans to continue her rise at this year’s X Games Austin, which began June 2. 

Alana spoke with Sports Illustrated Kids about being a teenager and a professional skateboarder and how she stays motivated.

When did you fall in love with skateboarding? 

I used to dirt bike when I was younger, so that kind of got me into watching X Games. My dad and I were watching it one day and I saw women’s vert skateboarding and I thought it was so awesome that girls could skate. I had a couple friends that skated. So, immediately after seeing that, I knew that I was going to love it as soon as I got a board.

As a teenager, is it difficult to be a professional athlete? How do you make time for friends and school? 

It’s definitely hard being young and trying to focus on something that you really love to train a lot. Especially with school. I’ve gone back and forth from being in a school and homeschooling. Right now, I’m homeschooling and it’s a lot better, but it’s just crazy. 

You’ve skated in competitions with guys. What’s that like, when you’re the only girl?

I haven’t really thought that much of it. I’ve grown up skating with guys. It’s just what I’m used to. It’s kind of fun, and it’s definitely a push because they have a little bit more under their belt, but it’s fun. I like it a lot. It’s like skating with some of my best friends.

What is your favorite skateboarding trick? 

I have no idea. The one that I mainly go to the most is probably either a backflip on the rail or a tree flip. 

You have achieved so much, like being the youngest person to win a medal at the X Games. How has that helped you to stay hungry?

You know the feeling of adrenaline that you get when you win rock paper scissors with someone? That’s kind of how you get when you’re at a contest and you talk to your friends, and you do good. You’re just like, ‘I want to continue to keep doing good.’ It just helps you push harder and want to learn more tricks. Of course, I love the sport. That always helps too.

What other interests, or hobbies, do you have outside of skating?

I like to listen to music a lot. I like to go and binge-watch old shows that I haven’t watched in forever. I like to work out a lot with my dad. Recently, I’ve been going to driving ranges and playing golf.

What are some future goals you’ve set for yourself?

I feel like as soon as I set a goal, I try to push and push to get to that goal, and as soon as I reach that goal I make another. Right now, my goal is to be able to train really hard and make it into the X games which I’ve done a couple of times now. I’s been amazing. I’m still trying to figure out another goal to do. But for right now, I’m just trying to get myself to train harder and push myself to the point of where I thought I couldn’t go.

Tune in to ESPN and ABC this weekend for all the X Games Austin action. And for more on the competition, check out Celia’s interview with 11-year-old skateboarder Brighton Zeuner!

Photo: Phil Ellsworth/ESPN Images