Last weekend, surfer Sabre Norris continued her domination of the skateboarding world, taking silver at the 2018 X Games in Minneapolis. Her technically superior run came just four weeks after her surprise first-place finish at the X Games Qualifiers in Boise, Idaho.
Park skating was built on the foundation of surfing, and when today’s surfers dry off and jump on a board, they continue a rich tradition of athletic versatility and innovation.
Norris, a legend in the making, is the perfect example of how surfing and skating can flawlessly unite. And 2018 will be heralded as the 13-year-old’s breakout year: Along with her X Games medal and a second place finish at the Vans Park Series Oceania Championships, Norris took top honors at the Bondi Bowl-A-Rama in her home state of New South Wales, Australia in February.
The event’s final results list perfectly illustrates just what a newcomer Norris is to the sport: Of the top ten finishers, ranging in age from 9 to 31, she is one of only two skaters lacking any kind of sponsorship (the other being her 11-year-old sister, Sockie). That oversight will likely change following her X Games triumph.
What fans hope will never change, even in the wake of continued success, is Norris’ authenticity and passion for the sport. She became a household name in 2014 at the tender age of 9, when a YouTube video (below) of her landing a 540 McTwist (and subsequently shrieking with joy) went viral. To date, it has garnered 1.5 million views. Norris remains one of only three women in the world who can successfully land the intricate trick.
The fact that Norris is an internet sensation and one of Ellen DeGeneres’ “favorite people” may lead naysayers to pin the teen’s success on her web-based notoriety. But anyone who has seen her skate can’t deny her dedication to the sport, or her raw talent.
Instead, her Internet fame and raw talent go hand in hand — serving as a clever marketing maneuver that appeals to millennials and Sabre Norris’ own iGeneration. Her fresh-faced elation and technical prowess bring new life to skateboarding.
In Minneapolis, Norris’ X Games silver-medal run garnered praise almost from the moment her wheels connected with the bowl. “She just attacks it technically,” said analyst Lyn-z Adams Pastrana, an X Games medalist herself, who was occasionally at a loss for words as she struggled to keep up.
‘The awe in Pastrana’s voice was apparent as she listed off Norris’ constant flow of tricks and switches, finally declaring, “I can’t even name it all, it’s so good!”
The teenage phenom’s future looks bright. According to her website, Norris hopes to represent Australia at the 2020 summer Olympics in Tokyo, in both skateboarding and surfing. It’s the first year of Olympic inclusion for both events and another historical notch in the evolution of women’s sports. Stay tuned to see if Norris can make history as the world’s first dual medalist in women’s surfing and skating.
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