By Alisha Haridasani
Tony Hawk can still whizz up and down the halfpipe with the swagger that defined his skateboarding career. But he misses more these days, sometimes falling flat, legs splayed at odd angles.
Hawk is, after all, 50 years old, and still daringly performing tricks that he pioneered half his life ago. Most people his age would have to pop ibuprofen just watching Hawk eclipse the edge of the halfpipe wall. But there he is, in a video posted on his birthday earlier this month, showcasing the tricks that changed the sport of skateboarding.
Though the skateboarding icon's "50 tricks at Age 50" video shows him displaying the same creativity, sense of adventure, and persistence that characterized his decades-long career on and off his board, Hawk acknowledges it may be the last time he performs many of his signature moves.
“As it unfolded, as I was trying some of them, I realized that they’re just really hard to perform these days,” Hawk said in an interview with Cheddar’s Jon Steinberg. “I have closure on a lot of them now.”
Hawk first spun into the mainstream more than 20 years ago, and solidified his legend status in 1999 when he landed the first 900 ー two-and-a-half full rotations in the air ー at the X Games.
That year, Hawk teamed up with Activision for the "Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater" video game series, which has earned more than $1.4 billion, according to his website.
“That was the tipping point in terms of skateboarding finally being accessible,” Hawk said. “That’s what created the fan base for skating of people that maybe never would skate in their lifetime but had an appreciation for the difficulty and for the perseverance of the skaters themselves.”
Hawk was one of the first professional skaters to make a living at the sport, and grew his empire to also include a skateboard brand, clothing line, and sporting goods. He said his success comes down to his perseverance and willingness to take risks.
“When I was young, I thought this is really my voice, I finally found what I want to do," Hawk said. "And a lot of people chose to look past that."
Recently, Hawk partnered with Chase Ink, the bank's small-business credit line, to share what he's learned building his skate empire from the deck up with small business owners.
The traits that served Hawk well haven't faded; in the penultimate trick of Hawk's 50 tricks video, he pulls off a 720 ー two full aerial spins ー before slamming into a pole and crash-landing on his back, screaming "Yes!"
For the full interview, click here.