Rising Stars in Action
Words: Rob Brink
944, January 2011
Progression, like time, waits for no one. If you don’t do it, someone else will beat you to it. Period.
Actions sports are no different, however, progression isn’t always about winning a medal, being number one or the money. Most times, it’s simply for the greater good—to push the envelope.
The athletes involved are intensely creative, dedicated, persistent, innovative and expressive individuals. Even in an event as high profile as the X Games or US Open, they are most likely battling themselves, not the other competitors.
Lyn-z Adams Hawkins, Kyle Loza and Brett Simpson are all in “the window” right now. It’s the age and place in their careers where they’ve accomplished more than most will ever dream. They’re at top of their game, but still rising stars and we don’t mind staring up at them. Not one bit.
Lyn-z Adams Hawkins: Professional Skateboarder
Age 21, Cardiff By the Sea
Lyn-z Adams Hawkins owns eight X Games Women’s Skateboarding medals—three of them are gold.
She’s the first female in history to land a 540 on a halfpipe and has never played her own character in Tony Hawk’s latest Activision release, Shred, because she’s “not too big on video games.”
Humble much? Yes, Lyn-z is in video games while most are just playing them.
Hawkins is currently traveling the globe with Travis Pastrana on the Nitro Circus Live tour and somehow still finds time to be a 21-year-old: chilling with her boyfriend (who has his own backyard skatepark), surfing, snowboarding and learning to ride dirt bikes.
“It’s still a man’s world,” Hawkins says of action sports, “but we're working hard and it’s slowly but surely changing for the better. We [men and women] are built very differently but I don’t see why girls can’t be as good as the guys one day.”
What will you be up to when you’re 30 and no longer eligible to be in this article?
I’m working on figuring that out right now. I’m sure I’ll still be skating. I plan on being a mother too.
Well, you certainly have time … of all your contest wins, which is the most special to you?
My first X Games medal. I was 14. My father died between the previous X Games and the year I won, so I did it for him.
No better reason to win than that. So you’re on tour right now?
Yeah. I just spent the last six weeks in Australia skating the Nitro Circus tour. Next is three weeks in New Zealand, a few more weeks in Australia, then Europe and the States. I’ve been learning how to ride a dirt bike too and I’m lovin’ it!
What’s a common misconception about your job from people outside your industry?
A lot of people think I was just handed everything on a silver platter, but I worked hard to get where I am— and I still work hard.
Traveling is a lot more tiring and stressful than people think. It’s not its all cracked up to be but it’s still better than a real job. As much as I have to be places, I’m kind of on my own schedule, My job allows me to do whatever I want as long as I’m performing well when I need to.
How incredible is it being the first female to land a 540?
It was a big step for women’s vert. I would have been just as ecstatic if another girl had done it but I’m stoked it was me. I like to help grow the sport and pave the way for all the younger girls coming up who will soon be passing me by.
Brett Simpson: Professional Surfer
Age 25, Huntington Beach
When your father spends five seasons as a professional Safety for the LA Rams, being thrust into the world of little league sports is inevitable. Two-time US Open champion, Brett Simpson, was no different. That is, until he stepped on his first surfboard at age 11.
“We went to Seal Beach and were just messing around,” Simpson says. “My buddy had a surfboard and that was the first time I ever did it. That Christmas I asked my parents for a surfboard, got one, and from that point I was hooked.”
There are hundreds of pro surfers out there, but only 32 make the World Tour. Simpson is one of them. He’s competitive and focused on staying at the top, but not in the “intense alpha male at a pickup game who only cares about winning and ruins the afternoon for everyone else” kind of way. It’s part of Brett’s charm actually.
When you’re on tour what do you miss most about Huntington?
We stay at some cool places around the world, but tend to return to a lot of the same spots. You miss your own bed and the food back home after a while.
Hard to argue. Of all your contest wins, which is the most special?
The first US Open win was definitely my breakthrough. But to go back-to-back proved it wasn’t just a fluke. The first year I also won “Breakthrough Performer of the Year” at the Surfer Poll Awards. Any award there is a big achievement.
How does life change after two US Open wins?
You’re definitely a bit more recognized than before. You dream of it when you’re young but don’t really understand what comes with it until it happens. It’s meant a lot to me and has given me the drive to do well. I’ve committed a lot of my life to contests and the Tour.
Do you actually “train” for contests or do you surf like you would for fun?
It’s definitely a simulation. When you’re surfing a heat you only get 30 minutes to perform well on two good waves. That’s the hardest part. It’s what separates a good surfer from a top surfer. Plenty of guys surf really well, but the guy that can consistently surf well in 30 minutes … that’s been the toughest part for me. That’s what I’m practicing. Consistency is huge at this level.
What will you be doing when you’re 30 and no longer eligible for this article?
Hopefully, I’m still on the Tour. Kelly Slater is 38 and just won his 10th title. Careers are maturing later these days. Hopefully my body is healthy and I’m still competing at a high level and still wanting it.
Kyle Loza: Professional Moto X Freestyle Rider
Age 24, Rancho Santa Margarita
Kyle Loza only showed up at the X Games three times. Each time he walked away with a gold medal in Moto X Best Trick. You know why?
Loza doesn’t do amazing tricks like everyone else—instead, he invents them.
Years later, no one else has been able to learn Loza’s signature moves—a few are trying though. And what he’s currently working on is going to change Moto X forever—again.
It’s the stuff legends are made of. But, at 24, Kyle’s no one-trick-a-year pony. He designs his own signature line of footwear and apparel with etnies; builds furniture by hand with a friend; is a tattoo artist; plays in a band with his wife (sister to Audrina Patridge of The Hills fame) and records in their home studio with Rhianna’s producer. Did we mention he’s got two babies, the eldest being two and a half years old?
Explain how fatherhood impacts your life.
Every way you could imagine your life changing, it changes. It’s ridiculous. It’s the greatest thing ever, but then you start realizing that if you don’t find a way to get some sleep, you’re gonna die.
How did you initially get invited to the X Games?
I made up a trick called “The Volt.” My agent showed a video to some dudes at ESPN and they were super pumped on it. I hadn’t landed it to dirt yet. I tried it for two years, broke a bunch of bones and beat the hell out of myself. ESPN is a giant company that wanted a rad back-story and a rad trick. Everything turned out perfect.
Have other riders learned your tricks yet?
I think there have been two guys trying “Volts” for a while now, but haven’t landed it. It’s been pretty rad. I enjoy watching. No one’s touched an “Electric Doom” yet.
Tell us about this new video project you’re working on with etnies.
We’re trying to bring motocross out of its box and into the streets. I don’t really know how to explain it, but it’s basically jumping off stairs, landing on roofs of schools, airing off roofs down sets of stairs. It’s about finding new stuff that’s totally possible to do. Nobody really does it yet. There’s a way to try any trick—anything you could ever imagine—anything’s possible.
What’s your advice for anyone considering a face tat?
Make sure, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it’s not gonna affect you making money. You don’t want to get married one day and have a face tattoo and screw your family over because you’re ignorant.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
My friend Toby, who passed away four years ago, gave me this advice for riding but I relate it to anything I do life that I want to succeed at and move forward in. Every day I rode he said, “Make sure you either ride through five gallons of gas, crash three times or ride until you throw up.”