Above: Mariah Duran performs at the X Games in Oslo, Norway. Photograph by Jeremiah Arias.

MARIAH DURAN ENTERED HER FIRST skateboarding competition at age 13, in her hometown of Albuquerque. In 2016, at 19, she went pro with a sponsorship from Meow Skateboards and began competing internationally on a board bearing her name. Her big break came in 2018, when Duran earned an Adidas sponsorship and twice won gold, at the X Games Minneapolis and the X Games Sydney, with runs that blended bodacious tricks like kickflips off obstacles and frontside 360-degree spins. She’s perfected a signature move—the hardflip, where she kicks off the back of the board, allowing it to spin end over end in the air before landing on it. Few women try it, which only amps up her appeal. In early 2020, with more than 113,000 Instagram followers tracking her, and with Mountain Dew as another big-name sponsor, the goofy-footed skateboarder topped podiums as a member of the USA Skateboarding National Team. Now she has her eyes fixed on the Summer Games in Tokyo, postponed until 2021 at the earliest, when skateboarding finally debuts as an Olympic sport.

I love skateboarding because you can never really master it. There are so many different tricks you can learn and so many different ways you can do a trick. It’s a really big mountain to climb.

My biggest competition is just me. During contests, it’s me versus my trick, not the person next to me. Sometimes I’ll stand in my own way. I’ll scare myself with a trick, but I’m also the solution.

Pushing myself to learn new tricks is a mental thing. Skateboarding is probably 40 percent physical and 60 percent mental. I skate with people who are better than me, to learn. I’ve been skating for 13 years. So after I learn, it’s just about getting out of my own way and letting my skill take over.

It took hours to perfect the hardflip. It took doing the trick in different places, like in and out of contests, to have the ability to do it under different pressures.

As a woman in a male-dominated sport, I don’t consider myself to be groundbreaking. I’m just trying to do the best I can. I consider the barriers I break to be the fears I face.

Social media has definitely helped grow skateboarding, because you can visually see what you can accomplish. Social media is such a big platform, but for me, there’s no pressure on that stuff.

I broke my tailbone in 2019. It happened at Dew Tour in Long Beach. I had skated the semifinals and was ranked first. The finals game plan was to do the same tricks. I was feeling good, then, 20 minutes before the finals, I missed and fell straight to my tailbone. I didn’t know I had a fracture. I thought I just got smoked. I skated the finals but toned down my tricks. It was a groundbreaking competition for me, because I mentally took control of the situation.

Making the Olympics would make everything worth it. All the hard work. All the contests I’ve skated injured or sick. But I understand it’s about the journey, not the destination. Being in the Olympics would be a big step, but getting into the Olympics is just part of my bigger evolution.

I’ve been self-isolating at my parents’ house, where I concreted the whole backyard so I have access to skate. I’m not too hard on myself. I stay on my board and do the tricks that make me feel good. It’s an escape. This pandemic has really changed my mindset. The Olympics were my priority, but now it’s just making sure my family is healthy, especially since my dad is an essential worker. I’m just taking it day by day.

Story Sidebar

Follow Mariah Duran’s tricks, thrills, a few spills, and her entertaining la vida loca on Instagram.