(ATR) Skateboarding mega-star Tony Hawk helps kick off the Youth Olympic Games in style at Buenos Aires' Urban Park.
Tony Hawk shows off skills at Urban Park (ATR)
Hawk was joined by eight-time X-Games champion Nyjah Huston, women's world champion Leticia Bufoni and BMX freestyle X-Games winner Logan Martin, on an absolutely splendid day at the multi-sport park, tucked in the Puerto Madero neighborhood of Buenos Aires.
The four action-sports stars, of varying ages, showcased their talents as fans clamored around the BMX freestyle park to catch a glimpse.
Hawk, 50, dropped into the park, starting a bit sluggishly, but his muscle memory recalled his earlier days of glory. After failed attempts to land a particular maneuver, he persevered, gray hair becoming mussed, and nailed a few tricks that pleased an appreciative crowd.
The California skateboarding icon – who was the first ever to land a ‘900’ in 1999 – can't wait for the sport to make its Olympic debut in Tokyo 2020, even though he is not sure how it will fit into the Olympic program.
“In the last 15 years I have thought, ‘why isn’t it in the Olympic Games?” Hawk said, after a session of teaching young Argentine skateboarders. “It seems like it is more popular than most of the sports at this point and they need a younger audience coming in.”
“Now I feel like it is about time. If you’d asked me 20 years ago, I would have been like ‘that’s crazy’ but now I feel like I understand it.”
Hawk giving interviews (ATR)
However, Hawk, who is often been referred to as “The Birdman,” said skateboarding needs to be presented the right way come Tokyo 2020, and its roots should be respected by the Olympic Movement.
“There has to be both sides listening to what they need,” Hawk said. “I think it’s more about the Olympics respecting the roots of skateboarding and the reason that it is popular.”
“I have some reverence for that while still fitting into a competition format – that is why I am here,” he said, willing to do whatever is necessary to help the sport transition and be ready on the Olympic stage.
Asked by Around the Rings
if he could turn back the clock and be 18 again to compete in a YOG or Olympic Games, would he do it, Hawk said probably not.
“I don’t know – I wouldn’t trade what I have got to experience, seeing skateboarding come and go and seeing the lives I have never imagined and the acceptance,” Hawk replied. “I love having the sense of history and having lived through it.”
“Having said that, sure it would be fun to skate on the Olympic stage – I am just happy I get to be a part of it.”
Leticia Bufoni, world champion skateboarder (ATR)
Undoubtedly, the lifestyle sport, which started its slow rise to becoming mainstream along California’s beaches in the 1970’s, has grown up.
“Skateboarding has come a long way, being in the Olympics and stuff has given a lot of kids a chance to go somewhere,” said the 23-year-old Huston, who is the world’s highest paid skateboarder.
The Brazilian Bufoni and Huston are thrilled at the chance to contend for the sport’s first-ever Olympic medals. Huston said if not for Hawk, it would not have been possible.
“Tony Hawk was one of the first people I saw skate in person,” Huston said. “I went to a demo when I was like five or six years old.
“He is a really cool dude and it’s an inspiration to see him out there, like 50 years old and still going.”
Coverage of the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games is made possible in part by BA 2018
Written and reported by Brian Pinelli in Buenos Aires
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