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Reaching New Heights

A young skateboarding star talks about her favorite sport and her dreams for the future.

At a California skate park, 11-year-old Sky Brown zips back and forth across a U-shaped ramp. Suddenly, she launches herself into the air from the top of the ramp. She clutches the skateboard under her feet with her left hand and spins around one-and-a-half times. Then she lands gracefully back on the concrete ramp. 

That trick, known as a frontside 540, is one of the most challenging stunts in skateboarding. But Sky makes it look easy. Though she’s still in middle school, the young phenom is one of the top skaters in the world—and she has big plans for her future.

Born to Skate

Based on the map and what you read in the article, in which ocean does Sky surf?

Sky’s dad is from Great Britain and her mom is from Japan, so Sky is a citizen of both countries. She was born in Japan, where she started learning to skateboard when she was just 2 years old. She didn’t have to go far—her family had a small skating ramp in the yard.

“My dad was always skating, and I wanted to get on a board just like him!” Sky says. “I’m sure I fell a lot in the beginning.”

Before long, it was clear that Sky had incredible talent. When she was 7, she began skating in competitions that have taken her around the world. At these events, skaters are given scores based on the difficulty and number of tricks they complete.

Last September, Sky wowed the crowds—and the judges—at the Skateboarding World Championships in Brazil. She won a bronze medal, finishing ahead of many skaters who were much older than she is.

For the Fun of It

Sky now lives in California, where she trains every day. She watches YouTube videos to learn new tricks, then spends hours perfecting them at local skate parks. But training doesn’t seem like work to her. It’s more like playing.

“At the end of the day, I just want to have fun,” Sky says.

Her schedule leaves plenty of time for everyday kid stuff. Ordinarily, Sky goes to school two days a week and studies online the other days. She hangs out with friends and plays video games with her 8-year-old brother, Ocean.

Sky also manages to squeeze in time for her other favorite sport, surfing. Most days, she gets up at 5 a.m. to put on her wet suit and ride the waves. She says that balancing on her surfboard makes her an even better skater.

Sky has also shown some fancy footwork on the dance floor. In 2018, she was crowned champion on the TV series Dancing With the Stars: Juniors.

Olympic Dreams

Sky spent much of the past year working to qualify for one of the world’s biggest sporting events: the Summer Olympics. She planned to represent her dad’s home country, Great Britain. But unfortunately, the Games were postponed.

Sky won’t let the delay stop her. She plans to spend the coming months sharpening her skating skills. She’s looking forward to becoming the youngest summer Olympian in British history—even if that happens a year later than expected. And she encourages other kids to keep reaching for their own goals. “The sky’s the limit,” she says. “Chase your dreams!”

Olympics On Hold

Sky and other athletes will have to wait until next year to try to win Olympic medals.

The 2020 Summer Olympic Games were due to kick off in Tokyo, Japan, in July. More than 10,000 athletes worldwide had been preparing to compete in more than 40 sports. For the first time ever, skateboarding was going to be one of them. But in March, Olympic officials postponed the event because of safety concerns over the worldwide spread of the disease Covid-19. The Summer Olympics are now set to start in July 2021.

Continue the Learning Journey
Meet Sky Brown

Watch a video interview with this champion skateboarder.

After watching the video, think about Sky Brown’s mindset for the Olympics. Instead of feeling pressured about the competition, she focuses on trying her best and having fun. Think about a time in your life when you faced a competition, test, or performance. How did you feel about it? Did you keep a positive mindset? Write your thoughts and feelings down in your journal. If you feel comfortable, share them with a trusted adult and talk about your experience.

Public Speaking

Here’s how to write a memorable speech.

The next Olympic Games will include competitions in skateboarding, baseball/softball, karate, sports climbing, and surfing for the first time. What other sport do you think should be added to the Olympics? Pretend you have the opportunity to present your idea to the International Olympic Committee. Use the slideshow above to write a speech explaining your proposal for a new sport. Then give your speech to friends or family members. What do they think of your idea?

Many skateboarders decorate and personalize the bottom of their skateboards with stickers. Design a set of stickers that you would put on your skateboard. They might share an inspirational message, have interesting shapes or patterns, or showcase your favorite places or things. Be sure to add color to your sketches! 

Skateboarders practice balancing to help them skateboard. Test your balance with this challenge! Stand with your feet hips-width apart. Breathe in to engage your abs and squeeze your shoulders down your back. Place your hands on your hips. Slowly shift your weight onto your right foot, lift your left leg, and bend your left knee to a 90-degree angle. Hold the pose for 20 seconds, then switch sides. See if you can build up to holding the pose for 60 seconds!

This article was written by Karen Kellaher for Scholastic News magazine.

Image Credits: (sky background); Paul Cooper/Contour by Getty Images (Sky smiling); Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images (Sky white helmet); Jonny Weeks/Guardian/eyevine/Redux (Skye doing tricks); Jim McMahon/MapMan® (map); Du Xiaoyi/Xinhua via Getty (medal)