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Skateboarding

Tony Hawk Still Fucking Rules

tony hawk slides on his knee pads down the side of a half pipe
Screenshot via Tony Hawk

I do not want to think skateboarding is cool. I know that it is all a ruse by the Cool Guy Lobby to trick me into watching them do their little tricks inside an empty pool. I have tried for decades to brush off the X-Games, but I cannot because they rule. These people, they are so brave! They have no sense of bodily self-preservation! They just drop right into what seems to be a VERY STEEP half pipe and throw their bodies into the air.

Every time I watch professional boarders (of both the skate and snow varieties) I always think about the kind of middle school boy mentality you have to be able to gain these kinds of skills. “I wonder what would happen if I just … ” they must ask and then they … do it? This is foreign to me. I broke a lot of bones as a child because I was clumsy and it was terrible.

Tony Hawk is the king of wondering if he could do something and then just doing it. I like Tony Hawk for a lot of reasons. I love to watch his videos where he just demands that children on the boardwalk do a kickflip. I really like all of his tweets about people at the airport not recognizing him. Tony Hawk has a similar energy to Guy Fieri for me, in that even though I know better than to trust famous and powerful men who are often later revealed to have done terrible things, I like him. I would be sad if he turned out to be bad. Tony Hawk seems to be having more fun than anyone ever. I respect this and I envy it.

So when Tony Hawk posted a tweet yesterday at noon, and it started showing up all over my feed, of course I clicked it. “720 degrees,” I thought, “that seems like a lot of degrees.”

I did not know this before I watched but it feels important to me that you know it: Tony Hawk invented the 720. That’s two full rotations in the air before the board lands. In 1985, when Tony Hawk was a wee 17 years old, he accidentally over-rotated on another trick and wondered if he could do it. He could. (Here is the video of baby Tony Hawk doing the 720.)

Since then, more people have done this, but there is honor in being the first person stupid and brave enough to throw yourself into the air and spin around two times before you land. The list of people who have managed 720s in professional settings is quite short, so I imagine it is still very hard to do. Tony Hawk later became a celebrity because he hit a 900 degree aerial, which is so many turns it makes me dizzy to think about.

Okay so now we have some background let’s watch this clip. REMEMBER: TONY HAWK IS 52 YEARS OLD.

I cannot even stand on a skateboard because I have terrible balance due to missing some inner ear bones and also due to the fact that every boy in the town where I grew up made fun of me for not instantly being good at it when I tried! And here is Tony Hawk at 52 years old fucking flipping around in the air! Look at him!!! He’s so high off the half pipe!

Look at him FALL. The falling is the part that amazes me. He is wearing big knee pads, but that impact must still hurt. The video is edited so that we see him slide down the side of the pipe, and each time you see the disappointment flood his face. A few times he hangs his head on his hands and knees. There is a frustration radiating out of him. He used to be able to do it. He used to be The One Who Did 720s. And now it is harder. He is older. But here he goes again, back into the pipe to knock his foot on the board and slide to the bottom, to soar into the air and lose the board, to … wait a second.

There he is. He’s got height. He’s got speed. He’s spinning. He’s grabbing the board, and his eyes are looking at the pipe. His knees are still bent but straightening, the board is landing on the pipe, the wheels stay upright. He has done it!!!! He is so amped up! He throws the board back into the pipe. I have watched this video like 10 times since yesterday, and each time I tear up when he throws the board. He’s so proud of himself! He should be! This rules! I am proud of him, too! I wish that I so much as knew how to stand on a skateboard so that if Tony Hawk ever yelled at me to do a kickflip, I could oblige him!

Congratulations, Tony Hawk!