Why Is Tony Hawk Still Breaking His Body Skateboarding?

Tony Hawk doesn’t seem like Tony Hawk in the opening frames of HBO’s new documentary about the life of the skateboarding legend.

Usually, the tall skinny and tall skinny skater casually rips through the air, performing a performance stop from his unrivaled bag of tricks (Hawk invented over 100 himself) before as he landed smoothly on the floor of the ramp and threw a smile and waved easily to his cheering spectators.

But in director Sam Jones’ Tony Hawk: Until the Wheels Fall, which premieres on April 5, the 53-year-old is struggling. He hit the floor hard, repeatedly. At one point, he screams in frustration and pain, almost knocked over by once again attempting to land the near-impossible 900. try again.

The 900 is considered one of the most difficult tricks in skateboarding, requiring the skater to toss high enough to complete 2.5 turns in the air. Hawk became the first to achieve the aforementioned feat at the 1999 X Games, finally knocking out the trick after his 10th attempt.

However, that was last year. And with each failed attempt in which Hawk’s board comes out from underneath his shoe or his helmet almost pops off due to the brute force of the fall, the film silently raises questions. : Hawk can still do it? And if we’re being brutally honest, shouldn’t he try? The question became even more relevant when Hawk arrived at the film’s premiere Saturday at Austin’s SXSW on crutches after sustaining a leg injury.

Jones, whose previous documentaries include I’m Trying To Break Your Heart: A Film About Wilco and Lost Song: Basement Tape Continues, himself an amateur skater, admitted to following a teenage Hawk around skate parks in California while growing up. Jones’ intention is not just to tell a typical origin story of a skinny kid from San Diego who helped change the skateboarding industry, ending with a shot of Hawk surrounded by all the trophies and his award. (It will come as little surprise, given that Hawk has a habit of throwing away his medals and titles, according to close friends.)

Instead, Jones sets out to tell an intimate and raw story about Hawk’s journey, his relationship with skateboarding, and the all-too-real consequences of being deeply in love with something that can make you ending but indulged in reckless abandonment.

The documentary showcases never-before-seen footage from Hawk’s early days in San Diego. He is the fourth child of Frank and Nancy, who had Hawk when she was in her forties, and it was Hawk’s brother Steve who accidentally introduced him to skateboarding, when young Hawk picked up one of the boards. your old, unused.

From there, Hawk earned a spot on professional skater Stacy Peralta’s Bones Brigade team, which included Rodney Mullen, Mike McGill, Lance Mountain, Steve Caballero and Andy Macdonald, all of whom were involved in the film.

But while Hawk made a name for himself as a high school student in the 1980s, raking in six figures a year from tours, competitions and selling off his line of skateboards, all of it came to an abrupt end in the early ’90s when skating interest plummeted and the city bulldozed the skate park. Stuck with two mortgages and a young family, Hawk fell into such dire straits that he had to borrow money from his parents and gradually pay his water bill.

Eventually, things started to pick up again in the mid to late 90s thanks to the advent of the X Games, which helped bring the sport to a wider audience when it aired on ESPN. By the late 2000s, Hawk had become a household name with his own popular series of video games, arena tours, and winning almost every competition he entered.

Now a family man in his fifties, Hawk has long retired from competition, but his skating days are far from over. He rides his bike 4-5 times a week, still trying to do risky, high-skill stunts just to prove he can still do it. Over the course of his career, he’s broken countless bones, including his ribs and pelvis, and has experienced a number of horrific concussions.

Now a family man in his 50s, Hawk has long retired from competition, but his skating days are far from over. He rides his bike four to five times a week, still trying to do risky, high-skill stunts just to prove he can still do it.

There’s a moment in the film where Hawk teams up with some of the Bones Brigade brothers to recreate one of the iconic skating videos the group made in the ’80s. While some of his colleagues let their plank flew out when they didn’t want to risk injury, Hawk did it again. He landed with difficulty, barely able to move. Everyone around was silent. After five minutes of lying motionless on the ramp, he hobbled to one side, as white as a sheet.

Peralta says it was this accident that prompted him to rally some of Hawk’s family members and closest friends to convince the skater that it had been too long for him to pack it up. He was too old to risk death as a pastime, they reasoned.

But like Rodney Mullen – a skateboarding legend – strictly speaking, true skaters cannot help themselves. Skateboarding is their life; it makes them who they are. And they’ll keep doing what they love until the wheel falls.

In the final moments of the film, after countless attempts to land the 900, Hawk stares in focused silence before launching himself down the curve once more. He turned quickly, touching the bottom of the board gracefully. He’s landed on the 900. He’s done the trick — at least for now.

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