Had the novel coronavirus pandemic not halted the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo not been cancelled,14-year-old USA skateboarder Minna Stess would be the youngest U.S. Olympian since Donna Elizabeth de Varona in 1960, who was also 13.
With the Olympics now postponed until Summer 2021, Stess, a native of Petaluma, California admits that she was disappointed. “Well it’s kind of sad,” Stess told me on the Scoop B Radio Podcast.
“But also on the bright side, I have more time to actually practice for it.”
Stess’ body of work is impressive.
For those keeping score at home: During the King of Groms Championship in 2014, Stess– then six – was the first female to compete in all three finals (street, mini ramp and bowl), the first female to win mini ramp, and the first female to win an ATV award. By age eight, Minna became the first girl in the California Amateur Skateboard League Championships’ 35-year history to win first place overall for the year in the street series for the 8 and under division in Northern California.
At 10, she became the youngest girl to ever win the U14 World Cup Skateboarding Championships. In 2018, Minna came in 1st place during the Mystic Skate Cup Ladies Bowl in Prague and took 2nd at La Kantera in Spain. More recently, she has competed in the X Games and Dew Tour and took 3rd place in the 2019 USA Skateboarding National Championships Women’s Park Finals.
Million Dollar Questions: How does she do it? Where does she find her inspiration?
Stess answered those questions during our discussion on the Scoop B Radio Podcast.
Check out snippets from our Q&A via Scoop B Radio below:
Minna Stess on how she got into skateboarding and who motivated her:
“My brother got me into skating and I’ve been skating since I could remember. I just wanted to be like him and just do whatever what he was doing. So, yeah.”
Minna Stess on how she was able to skate competitively at her age:
“Well, there were no skateboarding teams or anything; I was basically the only one that skateboarded at that school and on that level. But the school I go to now, there’s about two other 8th graders there because it’s an independent studies school. But it’s weird because it’s kind of based on ages like contests are based on ages, but what I’m doing now is based on genre like, either street or park.”
Minna Stess on representing her gender and the United States Skateboarding Team:
“Yeah, I think it’s definitely cool. There are so many more female skateboarders and for me…to me, every time I go to a skate park, it’s mostly men but I’m always used to it. It’s not weird for me. It should be something more of an American skate park. I think the Olympics with us in the Olympics having Women’s Division will definitely change that.”
Minna Stess on what she will be doing in between this time and the Olympics:
“I’ll probably just be skating in my backyard. Trying to stay fit and healthy. You know, just trying to be as productive as I can be. I don’t know, it’s kind of hard doing the same thing every day, but getting ready for the Olympic qualifiers; not sure when they are supposed to be happening but when they do, we can be ready for them.”
Minna Stess on her thoughts of being the youngest Olympian since Donna de Varona:
“I didn’t know, but my dad did a bunch of research about ages in the Olympics and he was telling and I was like, “Wow. That’s pretty cool”…but I feel like that age is a pretty big deal, but for me it’s just my age. I don’t know!”
Stess on what the X-Games were like for her:
“It was really surreal. Because two years before I was the second alternate. So I got to practice and do everything but, I couldn’t go in the contest which was good; which was like, you didn’t do everything but you don’t have that pressure of being in the contest. This time I actually was in the contest, so it was actually a surreal moment because I have been watching them for so long. And yeah, it was pretty crazy. Pretty cool. I was one of the youngest.”
Stess on things that she would like to do outside of skating:
“Hmmm…I don’t know. I never really thought of that [laughing]. Maybe help and teach kids on how to skate. I did this non-profit teaching disabled kids and younger kids how to skate and it was fun. I’ll probably would be teaching kids and stuff…I know that’s still a part of skateboarding but that’s the only thing that I can think of right now. I’ve never thought about it but, I like doing that.”
Stess on the best piece of advice that she has received [so far]:
“It was from Kathy Sharpe before a contest. I don’t know what she said exactly but she said, ‘To keep going no matter what and keep having fun! Because having fun is one of the most important things. Try to do it so much better than everyone in the contest so they can’t take it away from you.’”