“If someone says you ‘skate like a girl’ it’s a compliment,” states the American. “Girls are killing it right now!”
Jordan Santana drew inspiration from the ground-breaking skateboarding “legends” Tony Hawk, Steve Caballero, Mike McGill and Lance Mountain while she was developing her own skills and style.
She hopes that young girls around the world will now grow-up aspiring to imitate and develop what world-leading women, like herself, are achieving on four wheels in the present day.
The American is only 19 and just two years into her professional career, but she has noticed a huge shift in the skateboarding landscape in the last half decade.
“When I started, I went to contests there wasn't equal pay at all,” she tells the WSA.
“I remember it was like a pretty big difference between what the men and women were making, but over the years that’s changed and I think when I was about 14-15, they made it equal pay at certain contests.
“It’s been really evolving, with women getting their own pro shoes and completely reaching another level of skating difficulty!”
Jordan still finds it amusing when fellow skaters in her home city of Huston, in Texas, state she does not “skate like a girl” as what the statement represents has “totally” changed.
“I grew up just skating with guys so I’ve always been told I have a style like them which is more aggressive and so I took it as a compliment and felt it was cool,” she states.
“At the time there weren’t many girls doing really difficult tricks (like men) but having the option of turning pro(fessional) has really encouraged more women to skate.
“Skating ‘like a girl’ you can’t really say anymore (negatively) as girls are killing it right now and girls are in fact killing the guys now!”
Breaking Her Leg and Fearing it Would ‘Snap’ Again
It is a sport with rewards, but also risks – something Jordan “painfully” discovered in her early teens while trying a trick which ultimately could have ended her skateboarding story.
“I’d never broken anything, not even a finger and it (breaking her leg) was probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever been through,” she reveals.
“I was just warming up in an everyday practice and I was learning tail sides at the time, but I thought ‘I’ll just try a long one…’
“My body went one way, my leg went the other. I remember I heard that snap and I was immediately crushed because I also had to US Open in literally a week.
“I was stilling there worrying not only about that but also the (Olympic) qualifiers which were starting the following year and I panicked because I’d never had an injury and this wasn’t a small thing like an ankle, but my whole leg.”
Jordan feared the worst, but was reassured by her doctor that it would heal “really strong” - although she did have some initial doubts.
“I remember the first day I got back on board and it felt like the entire thing was about to snap if I slightly leaned forward, so it was definitely a huge mental thing,” she says.
“I thought I was going to have to learn everything from scratch and had no idea what would happen, but I eventually got back and won a contest which really boosted my confidence.”
Landing a ‘540 McTwist’ and Making History
The ‘viral’ nature of sport means new ‘rising-stars’ can emerge rapidly and at the age of 16 – the now fully recovered skateboarder – was labelled a ‘prodigy’ after becoming one of the first female riders to land a ‘540 McTwist’.
For those unaware, this involves a skateboarder launching from a vertical ramp, spinning in the air for a full one and a half rotations (540 degrees), and then landing successfully back on the ramp.
“I feel like that was one of the biggest moments of my career when I finally landed that,” she reveals.
“It was one of the things I’d thought about since I was about 13 when I was told I’d be one of only a handful of women that have ever done it – the others were from Japan and Australia – so I figured ‘why not be the first American’ to do it?”
Landing that and several other strong skills, at the national USA Skateboarding National Championships in 2021, where she finished second, put her on the brink of achieving a place in the Team USA line-up for her sport’s Olympic debut.
However, disaster struck and cancelled events combined with challenging conditions in the final qualifier saw her narrowly miss out on a place at Tokyo 2020.
“When it didn't happen and I didn't make it I was sad of course because of all the hard work,” Jordan admits.
“At the same time, I was kind of like, ‘it's going to be alright, there's going to be another one and I’ll just come back better than ever’ which is why I push so hard.”
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Music, Mindset and Faith
Faith plays an important role in her life as well and Jordan competes wearing a necklace with a cross.
“I've always worn it during all contests because my dad gave it to me and it's also a good luck charm,” she reveals.
“My faith has always been something I strongly believe in as a Christian and it’s helped me through every struggle or little bit of doubt that I've ever had.”
The American has enhanced her power and prowess on the board in the 20 months since the last Games in Japan, but Jordan also sees a ‘bigger picture’ than before.
“It’s important to sometimes forget about social media because I’ll look on Instagram and see everyone learning new tricks and think I need to do that, but essentially you don’t want to be exactly the same as all the other skaters,” she tells the WSA.
“It’s important to switch off, so music is a really big thing to me and I play the drums.
“There’s also how I like to wear earphones during contests when I’m skating and people say I’m crazy for doing it, but I put on the noise cancellation so I hear my board but nothing else, so there are no other distractions.”
A New Olympic Dream - Paris 2024 Focus is key in the moment, but also when it comes to achieving her long-term aspiration.
She is “grateful” of her successes and story so far, but aims to stay “humble” as she pursues a place at the Paris 2024 Olympics.
“I don't take anything for granted when I like look back and see everything that I did and everything that I'm going to do,” she insists.
“The ultimate dream is going to be making 2024 Olympics, but then every pro skater wants that, or their own product, or video and has future targets.
“I have my own pro board right now, but that (the Olympics) is the number one goal and it would be amazing!”