Liv Stone is a two-time Para Surf World Champion, with the Paralympics next on her bottomless bucket list

02/1/2022
















Photo: Sean Evans/ISA

Born and raised in a small town in landlocked Pennsylvania, Liv Stone’s fascination with the sport of surfing began vicariously — through films and video clips. She never thought it was a realistic option for herself, since she lived hours from the coast. Instead, Stone participated in myriad school sports: basketball, field hockey, tennis, swimming, soccer, cheerleading… Pretty much everything but surfing.

But Stone was born with a congenital limb difference — her arms are shorter than most people’s and she only has two fingers on each hand. For many years, her parents weren’t sure what she’d be capable of. As she grew up, however, Stone discovered she could do just about anything by creating solutions for challenging activities. Today, she is fully self-sufficient.

“Sometimes people doubt my ability to do something,” she says. “But that just makes me more headstrong. That just makes me want to do it more, and better.”

In 2017, Stone was invited to attend Bethany Hamilton’s “Beautifully Flawed” retreat in California — a faith-based retreat designed to unite and inspire young women who suffer from limb difference or limb loss — where she got the opportunity to connect with those with similar disabilities and, finally, try surfing for the first time.

“I always had a connection with the ocean,” says Stone. “When I surfed with Bethany it all just kind of clicked — it came so naturally. I felt like I was gifted in that sport specifically and God wanted me to surf.”

Upon returning home to Pennsylvania, Stone started traveling to surf as often as possible. The following summer, she attended a surf clinic in Encinitas, CA, via the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF). Shortly after, she was invited to join Team USA at the ISA World Para Surf Games, where she helped Team USA win Gold. In 2019, Stone’s family relocated to California, where Liv could focus on surfing. She quickly became a regular in the San Diego lineup and filled her spare time with cross training and gym workouts.

She began working with shaper Tim Stamps, who created her a quiver consisting of three shortboards and a mid-length. The boards feature a traditional shape, but Stamps adds a little extra foam in the knee area to support Stone’s pop up. In addition to her custom boards, Stone uses special paddles called “aquatic prosthetics,” which pull more water while paddling, helping her get into waves and keeping her safe when she needs to punch through a big set or get out of someone’s way.

Occasionally, she’ll work with a coach, but more often than not, she surfs solo or with a few friends. In 2020, her dedication paid off, as Stone took home Gold in her division at the ISA World Surf Games. In 2021, she did it again, securing back-to-back World Titles. But to Stone, surfing is about so much more than gold medals, shiny trophies and competition. It’s a way for her to connect with nature. It’s an opportunity to motivate others. And it’s a chance to feel free and form a community.

“Surfing makes everyone whole and at one with nature,” says Stone. “Everyone’s equal in the lineup and the ocean doesn’t have any mercy on any of us. It makes us all one, and I love the family it creates.”

Currently a freshman at Mira Costa College in San Diego, Stone is studying communications with the goal of becoming a sports broadcaster. She’d like to see more women in the surf industry, and her dream is to make her mark as one of the best female commentators in the sport.

In the meantime, she hopes to add more victories to her already-impressive resume and compete in the Paralympics. Plus, more international travel to world-class waves. But more than anything, Stone wants to inspire others.

“I want to keep charging and see how good I can get,” she finishes. “But my main goal is to go out, shred, and show everyone that people with disabilities can do anything that we set our minds to.”

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