Best Vert: Tony Hawk

The race between Tony Hawk and Bob Burnquist for the Best Vert category came down to a mere sixteen votes. When all was said and done, the 30-year-old Hawk prevailed.

Though he doesn’t make it to every contest anymore, he still managed wins in ’98 at Tampa, Virginia Beach, Münster, Woodward, the Goodwill Games, Asbury Park, and Oceanside. Not to mention finishing fifteenth in street and first in vert in the World Cup Skateboarding Overall Rankings for 1998. Add that to pulling the loop, being digitized for a video game, making The End, and playing the role of expectant father, and you begin to see why he’s become skateboarding’s most-recognizable face.

TWS: How many years have you been a pro skater?

Tony: I turned pro when I was fourteen, so sixteen years so far.

As a kid, did you collect autographs and idolize other skateboarders?

I didn’t get autographs, but I did look up to a few guys–Eddie Elguera, Dave Andrecht, and Steve Cab. Actually, I once asked Steve Cathey for a sticker, because I saw him on TV skating the Pepsi ramp in the Rose Parade.

Do your kids skate?

Riley skates every day, even more than I do these days. He usually wakes up around seven in the morning and asks me to set up his quarterpipes in the driveway. Or he’ll spend the day skating at his friend Simon’s house, who also has some obstacles. Spencer’s only a few weeks old, so he’s more preoccupied with eating and diaper- rash relief than skating.

Will you encourage them to compete?

Only if they feel like it. Riley entered his first contest last

weekend, and it was all his idea. He loved it, but I’d never push him to do anything.

Has being a dad affected your ability to be a skateboarder?

In some ways, because in order to skate now I need to actually plan ahead and make sure our kids are looked after. I also limit my travel these days in order to spend more time with my family, so I don’t go to every event. But things are a lot easier, because Riley is so into it. If I’m going to go skate, he almost always wants to come along. Sometimes Riley and Erin even get to travel with me.

Do people recognize you outside of skateboarding–like when you’re walking through the mall?

Yeah, quite a bit lately. In almost any public location.

When random people approach you, what do they ask you about?

The X-Games, unless they’re skaters. A lot of people ask about skateboarding’s popularity and if I ever thought it would come this far. There’s been a positive shift in people’s attitudes about skating.

For some reason I’ve also been getting a lot of questions lately about Gleaming The Cube, which I did back in 1988. Skaters usually ask about the Birdhouse video, or if I know Chad Muska.

Who’s your favorite pro skater right now, and why?

I would have to say Bob Burnquist, because he’s doing things I never really imagined were possible on vert.

How does skateboarding’s current explosion in popularity compare to the late 80s when skating got huge?

It has a much stronger foundation now. In the 80s, the general

public was more focused on skaters’ hairdos and board graphics than their actual abilities. Also, city-built skateparks were virtually unheard of. Parents now see skating as a positive activity instead of a rebellious pastime. This will ultimately give it more longevity–like it or not.

What stands out as the most memorable moment in your life?

Both Riley’s and Spencer’s births. Kids are hilarious, so every day is more memorable than the next.

Has your career peaked yet?

I don’t really know. I’m still learning stuff, so I guess not.

Do you have any specific goals?

To some day lead a less hectic lifestyle; to do frontside stalefish 540s; to master the Media 100; to provide for our family; to make sure the Birdhouse team has plenty of opportunities; to have a date with Erin; to do a 900; to not livee off of a previous reputation; to make Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater the best skate video game; to support whatever my kids are into; to make reservations at Vivace; to learn frontside cab nosegrinds; to promote Hawk Kids clothing; to get my car washed; to make The End on DVD; to answer my e-mail; to catch kickflips higher; to go to Vegas, baby, Vegas; to surf more; to smash my cell phone; and to get some sleep.

What stands out in your mind about 1998?

Performing at Project X in Nashville with Matt Hoffman, doing a

backside mute 180 over a not-so-funbox to shattered humorous elbow while shooting the Gap commercial; doing the X-Games commercial–which led people to believe I was going to be in an upcoming movie; turning 30; flying in F-18s with Andy; making the The End; meeting Annie Lebowitz during the Milk Mustache shoot; pulling the loop; having my best runs in Münster; traveling to Italy, Woodward, and NYC with Erin and Riley; meeting Evel Knievel; doing the Japanese Adio tour with Jamie Thomas and Jeremy Wray; The End premiere; winning nine out of the ten contests I entered; and anticipating Spencer’s arrival.