Brighton Zeuner is a professional skateboarder, sure. But she’s also just your average American teenager. “It’s my two-year anniversary with my boyfriend today,” the 17-year-old tells me from her childhood bedroom in California when we speak in April. “We’re going to eat at CPK and watch American Horror Story.”
Zeuner will represent Team USA in the inaugural park skateboarding competition during this summer’s Tokyo Games on August 4. Park skateboarding, unlike the street competition, which has already concluded, takes place in a hollowed-out course that features complicated curves and rails. Think a giant empty swimming pool with peaks and valleys.
“I just think it’s a cool way to get a different audience and show skateboarding to the world,” Zeuner says. “Women’s skateboarding has come so far, and I get to be a part of that at the perfect time.”
Zeuner has been skateboarding since she was six years old. In an interview with Sports Illustrated, her father, Brandon Zeuner, recalled how Brighton would follow her older brother, Jack, to the skatepark. So Brandon suggested he and Brighton’s mother, Bridget, get their daughter a board of her own. Soon enough, Brighton was “dropping into 10-foot bowls and doing things that weren’t normal,” Brandon told SI. In 2017, just one day after her 13th birthday, Zeuner became the youngest gold medalist at the X Games.
Zeuner’s approach to her sport is actually to take the “sport” out of it. She says she performs best when she focuses on enjoying what she does.
“What makes me feel stable is just feeling like a little kid and loving skateboarding,” Zeuner tells SELF. “When what you do becomes more of a job than what you love, that gets stressful. I’ve just been trying to keep it as fun as possible.”
In fact, Zeuner says she didn’t train much for the Olympics at all. To prepare, she spent time skating outside at local parks with friends.
That all being said, mental rest and play are key to Zeuner’s training regimen—whether she likes to call it that or not. Like many of her peers, Zeuner loves skin care and streaming old TV shows late into the night. She FaceTimes with her boyfriend, Christian, and plays Minecraft. Most of all, she does what she can to take the pressure off. Here, Zeuner walks SELF through her bedtime routine and how she’s been preparing for the Tokyo Olympics.
Before bed, I feel like I get the most stuff done.
I like to take care of myself. Sometimes I won’t, because I’m just so tired and I feel insecure, but what makes me feel better is pampering myself. I’ll tweeze my eyebrows sometimes if I’m really into it. I also have super-sensitive skin, so I always have to put lotion on my legs every night.
When you’re skating, you’re sweating, and I used to break out a lot.
I wash my face with a Cetaphil cleanser, and then I use toner, serum, and a spot treatment. I try to do it all the time. Sometimes I just pass out, but that’s what I try to do. I have this prescribed spot treatment called Retin-A. I love face masks—the one I use is Clinique. I try to do my nails unsuccessfully sometimes. I feel good when I do my face routine, take a shower, and put on my pajamas. I always take a shower before bed—never in the morning, really.
My bedroom is my favorite room. It’s my dream room.
My favorite thing in my bedroom is probably my rug because it looks like grass. I’ve had this vanity forever, and we repainted it green because that’s my favorite color. I got this little Tiffany lamp for $14 bucks and it sells for $200.
But I have so many girlfriends that come over and wear my cute pajamas, and now all my pajama pants are gone. I usually just wear shorts and a T-shirt. I used to have fun, really cool, butterfly matching sets. Anytime I shop online, I feel like I always look at pj’s because, well, my friends take all of them.
I usually go on FaceTime with my boyfriend.
We watch our show together, which is American Horror Story. Or Christian and I play Minecraft for hours before bed and then go to sleep. I always sleep with the TV on. When I watch American Horror Story or I put on iCarly and the TV is so bright, I just put a pillow or a towel over my head to help me sleep.
I’m a weird sleeper. I always get scared.
I love horror stuff, but I always get freaked out. I’m such an overthinker too. I need to get over it.
Honestly, the anxiety at night is bad sometimes because I haven’t competed in a year.
Right when the Games got canceled, I didn’t think of contests at all. I didn’t think of skating until recently. I was like, “Oh, my God, I need to start skating again.” Knowing everyone probably feels the same makes me feel a little better. I’ve been skating a lot. All day, I go to San Diego and just skate there with some friends. That’s been refreshing because when it was too stressful and it was more like training, I was putting pressure on myself like, “Oh, you have to get these certain tricks for the contest.”