Big air over the hips, technical lip slides on the coping, and a fearless style reminiscent of skateboarding’s origins propelled Brighton Zeuner to a Gold Medal in Women’s Skateboard Park at the 2017 X Games in Minneapolis.
What might be most impressive is that Zeuner did it all just 12 hours after turning 13-years-old, making her the youngest Gold Medal winner in X Games history.
Zeuner made her X Games debut last summer in Austin where she just missed the podium with a fourth-place finish. This might be her first X Games gold but the young ripper is no stranger to the top of the podium. Zeuner is a Vans Park Series world champion and the youngest female X Games competitor ever – and she’s accomplished all that while juggling school responsibilities and the overall day-to-day hurtles that come with growing up.
Zeuner began skating at six years-old and by the time she turned eight it was clear that the passion for the sport was there. Her parents, Brandon and Bridget Zeuner, built a 10-foot vert ramp in their back yard in California for Zeuner and brother Jack to practice.
“We didn’t realize we were recreating the skateboard scene of the ’80s,” Brandon Zeuner told the Minnesota Star Tribune.
That old school scene has attracted the likes of Jeff Grosso, Lance Mountain, and even Tony Hawk to the backyard ramp. Grosso has become a family friend and a mentor for Zeuner.
“If you want to get good, go skateboard with a bunch of guys and girls who are much better than you, and you’ll get good real quick,” Grosso told the Star Tribune. “Either that, or you’ll bleed a lot.”
Zeuner got really good really quickly.
Grosso, Hawk, Zeuner’s manager Ryan Clements, and Vans team manager Jamie Hart have emerged as Zeuner’s advisors as she becomes more recognized in the skateboarding community. The 13-year-old already fields autograph requests, has competed in Sweden, and is planning a trip to China. As more things are placed on her plate and burnout becomes a bigger concern it’s good to have a team as strong as Zeuner’s.
“It’s refreshing in the way that they’re mindful she’s 13,” Grosso said. “She’s got to do her schoolwork, and she’s got house chores, and if she’s acting like a moron, her parents put her in check. She’s grounded, and she’s not allowed to go to the skatepark like she wants to.”
Skating might be her favorite activity, but it’s not the only thing on this 13-year-olds likes. She likes to draw and swim to relax. She keeps a journal. She enjoys cooking with her dad and watching Tasty videos on Instagram. And she likes winning Gold Medals at the X Games – you know just regular teenage stuff.