Tony Hawk made history a few months ago by being the first to pull the 900. He recently talked to Transworld SKATEboardings Joel Patterson about what it took reach that goal.
Other than the fact that you’re spinning two and a half times, why is the 900 so hard?
Well, basically because you’re blind twice. On a 540, your only blind to the ramp once, so it’s a lot easier to spot your landing. With the Nine, you go through that blind point and then you tuck and spin again. You have no reference until you think you’re done spinning, and by that time you’re probably on the wall. So a lot of it’s just feeling and faith.
Does the ramp have to be a certain way for a 900?
A little bit bigger is better, for sure-especially for me because I’m tall. The Tijuana ramp was bigger than the one at the X-Games, but I couldn’t do it there. But I also didn’t have the same vibe-the same support for making it.
Did being under the magnifying glass have a lot to do with it?
I think so. Once I decided I was going to really try to land it, I just figured I was either going to land it, or I was going to wake up later in the hospital.
Yeah. Because it’s so much force, that if you land and you’re leaning to far forward-like that’s how I broke my rib. I just figured I’m either going to make it, or I’m going to be out of commission.
So you just kinda go for it?
Yeah, pretty much. Probably the last three of four ones that I tried-anyone of those could have been it.
When did you first try to do it?
The first time I tried to spin it was in Bourge France at summer camp in like ’86, but I could never commit to the spin. I would try to get the guts up every once in a while to do a 900, but I never could spin it. The first time I actually spun it was a trade show in Long Beach four or five years ago.
At that point did you think you could do it?
No, I was just glad I finally had the guts to spin it. Actually, on the ones I tried at the trade show, I came out over the decks so far I would hang up on my shins. I had no idea what I was doing; I was just trying to fling my body.
Since that trade show, have you been actively trying to pull it?
Yeah. Then I started trying to spin them more and more, and I thought I just needed more vert, so I went to the Human ramp in San Diego, which had a lot of vert, and basically started spinning myself into the flat bottom and getting wrecked. Atiba went there to try to shoot it, but that ramp was just too small with too much vert to do it.
How long ago was that try?
That was around the same time-probably ’95. Then, right at the beginning of ’96, I tried it at Plan B, and I started coming a lot closer, but while I was trying to land it I cracked a rib. I remember that because I couldn’t go to Tampa that year.
After that did you put it the 900 on the back burner?
I never tried as whole-heatedly after that to really throw it down. Even for the video, I was trying and trying, but I just couldn’t get myself to commit to it.
How many times would you say you’ve tried the Nine before you pulled it?
I don’t know, it’s hard to say. A couple hundred, maybe. I tried kickflip 540s more, because it didn’t take so much out of you. You can only spin 900s for so long before you’re just wrecked. Even if you’re landing safely, the impact gets to you. That’s why Sluggo hurt his back; Danny Way tried to do it with all his moto gear on. You just can’t try it extensively.
There’s several people who have been actively pursuing this trick. Was there a sense of competition with the other guys?
No, because it wasn’t pending so much. Everyone’s been trying it for a long time. Sluggo was down here in San Diego trying it for a week or so. Danny’s been trying it since the H-Street video. At any given time, anyone could have done it, so it’s not like there was a sense of urgency. Of course, everyone wants to do itt first, but, like I said, it takes so much just to attempt, it’s no wonder it took so long.
Do you ever see it becoming a trick that people just have in their repertoire, like a 540?
I don’t think it’ll ever come that easily, but I can definitely see people getting more consistent with it.
Do you worry that every time you go to a contest or a demo, people are going to expect a 900?
A long, drawn out Ahhh. I know it’s going to happen, I’ve just come to live with that.
Trick-wise, what’s your next goal? A 1080?
No, not for me. Although, after I figured out how the spin works for a 900 and how much speed is needed, I realized that someone with the right kind of acrobatic skills and a sixth-sense for knowing where they are in the air could do a 1080 … I think. I’m not saying that I’d ever do one, just that it’s possible. You’d have to have a lot of speed and go at least eight to ten feet out just to get the spin. Actually, I have no desire to try it.