For Tony Hawk, it wasn't enough to skate for two decades, to invent more than eighty tricks, and to win more than twice as many professional contests as any other skater. It wasn't enough to knock himself unconscious more than ten times, fracture several ribs, break his elbow, knock out his teeth twice, compress the vertebrae in his back, pop his bursa sack, get more than fifty stitches laced into his shins, rip apart the cartilage in his knee, bruise his tailbone, sprain his ankles, and tear his ligaments too many times to count. No. He had to land the 900. And after thirteen years of failed attempts, he nailed it.It had never been done before.
Growing up in Sierra Mesa, California, Tony was a hyperactive demon child with an I44 IQ. He threw tantrums, terrorized the nanny until she quit, exploded with rage whenever he lost a game; this was a kid who was expelled from preschool. When his brother, Steve, gave him a blue plastic hand-me-down skateboard and his father built a skate ramp in the driveway, Tony finally found his outlet--while skating, he could be as hard on himself as he was on everyone around him.
But it wasn't an easy ride to the top of the skating game. Fellow skaters mocked his skating style and dubbed him a circus skater. He was so skinny he had to wear elbow pads on his knees, and so light he had to ollie just to catch air off a ramp. He was so desperate to be accepted by young skating legends like Steve Caballero, Mike McGill, and Christian Hosoi that he ate gum from between Steve's toes. But a few years of determination and hard work paid off in multiple professional wins, and the skaters who once had mocked him were now trying to learn his tricks. Tony had created a new style of skating.
In Hawk Tony goes behind the scenes of competitions, demos, and movies and shares the less glamorous demands of being a skateboarder--from skating on Italian TV wearing see-through plastic shorts to doing a demo in Brazil after throwing up for five days straight from food poisoning. He's dealt with teammates who lit themselves and other subjects on fire, driving down a freeway as the dashboard of their van burned. He's gone through the unpredictable ride of the skateboard industry during which, in the span of a few years, his annual income shrank to what he had made in a single month and then rebounded into seven figures. But Tony's greatest difficulty was dealing with the loss of his number one fan and supporter--his dad, Frank Hawk.
With brutal honesty, Tony recalls the stories of love, loss, bad hairdos, embarrassing '80s clothes, and his determination that had shaped his life. As he takes a look back at his experiences with the skateboarding legends of the '70s, '80s, and '90s, including Stacy Peralta, Eddie Elguera, Lance Mountain, Mark Gonzalez, Bob Burnquist, and Colin Mckay, he tells the real history of skateboarding--and also what the future has in store for the sport and for him.
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Tony Hawk is the bestselling author of Hawk: Occupation: Skateboarder. In the 1999 X Games, Tony landed the first 900 degree arial turn in skateboarding history. A stunt he had been working on for years. He has released three video games for playstation: Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2, and Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3. He lives in Carlsbad, California, with his wife and three children.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
"I felt the cold wind that blew in from the San Francisco Bay whip across the top of the vert ramp and onto the deck as I walked around waiting my turn. It was June 27, and I was competing in the best-trick contest at the 1999 Summer X Games with four of the best vert skaters in the world: Bucky Lasek, Colin McKay, Bob Burnquist, and Andy Macdonald. We'd been skating for fifteen minutes - it was midway through the half-hour designated for tricks - when I landed the varial 720. It's a difficult trick to do because I have to go up the ramp and spin two rotations with my body, while I hold my board and turn it 180 degrees so that I come down the ramp facing forward and my board is backward. I didn't know if I could win with it, but it was all I had planned.
The crowd was huge (the X Games claim fifty thousand people), and I'd never seen this many people in such a frenzy over skateboarding. But they definitely had something to cheer about. The level of skateboarding was so high, it was ridiculous. Colin did five different tricks and each could hav won on its own. Bob Burnquist landed a fakie 5-0 to kickflip and Bucky Lasek was throwing down tricks like heelflip frontside Cabs. I had fifteen minutes to kill, so why not let the clock run out with a few 900 attempts? Show off a bit for the excited crowd.
I wasn't that serious, I just thought I'd crank a few, but they felt different from the get go; the spin was consistent on most of my attempts. I knew the only way the night would end was with me stomping one down or knocking myself out in the process. I had no excuses. For thirteen years I'd been spinning the trick, only to wreck myself or wimp out.
Everything blanked out except for the 9. The announcer's voice occasionally drifted into my head, telling me time was up, that this was my last try, but there was no way I was about to stop when the 9s felt that good. They'd need every security guard on site to pull me off the ramp. I'd keep attempting the trick after everyone had left and the lights were turned off if I had to. It was like Cake's song 'He's going the Distance."
I don't recall walking up the ramp after each attempt. All I thought about was getting a good look in the middle of the spin so I could spot a landing. I'd just drop in, spin, fall, get up, and walk up the ramp over and over again. Everyone else had stopped skating. I remember thinking since the time limit was way up I wasn't going to win the best trick with a 9, but it wasn't about the contest.On my twelfth try the spin was fast and I had enough height, so I shifted my weight and threw it back, but it still felt like all the others. Then I realized, a little after the fact, that I was rolling across the flat bottom and up the other side of the ramp. After thirteen years of trying unsuccessfully to land the 9, all I could think was, Finally!
I freaked out as a mob of friends jumped on the ramp and tackled me. They hoisted me on their shoulders and carried me around. I was about to explode, I was so happy. I'm usually a stoic guy, and more than a few people (my wife included) have commented that I'm hard to read, but that night I let it go. I couldn't keep anything in. I thanked the crowd and announced that this was 'the best day of my life'."
On Skateboarding Being Subjective
"Skating is such a subjective form that judging seems almost ridiculous when you think about it. It's like having a paint-off between Van Gogh and Picasso and declaring a winner at the end. That's always been one of the problems with skateboarding contests - they're not exactly a true reflection of who's the best. Skating is not like gymnastics or figure skating, with predetermined points for tricks. How you do a trick can be just as important as the trick itself."--p. 108, Tony Hawk, Occupation: Skateboarder
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