Skateboarding made its debut at the Tokyo Olympics this summer, so it’s only fitting that the legendary Tony Hawk was there for the inaugural event.
Hawk finished his career with 16 medals at the X Games, paving the way for the next generation of skateboarders. In 1999, he cemented his status as one of the best of all time by completing the first documented “900.”
Though his competitive career came to an end in 2003, Hawk has remained such an impactful figure for the sport by promoting young skaters and introducing new Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater video games.
In addition to being a skateboarding legend, Hawk is also quite the expert when it comes to back-to-school planning. That’s why he recently partnered up with Great Clips.
We caught up with Tony Hawk to discuss his iconic career, the future of skateboarding, his partnership with Great Clips and much more.
The Spun: You’re no stranger to tricks on a skateboard, but you also know the ins and outs for the back-to-school season. Can you tell me a bit about your partnership with Great Clips and why the fit made sense?
Tony Hawk: Well, the trick is getting a haircut appointment easily for back-to-school purposes, which I did with my daughter recently. I actually did it just a few days before I went to Tokyo, so it was not only a back-to-school mission but it also helped with the Olympics and being on camera. I know going back to school is super hectic for parents to get clothes and schedules, and sometimes, it interferes with kids’ summer activities. A haircut can be one of the biggest hassles and take the most time, but not with Great Clips app – we got an appointment . The whole idea was that it was my daughter’s trick, and she pulled it off.
The Spun: How was it working alongside your daughter for this partnership. What was that experience like?
TH: It was fun to see her personality shine through because she used to be pretty shy. She’s been doing theater in her school, so I can tell that has given her a boost of confidence to at least be her true self on camera. I think with Great Clips you’ll really see her shine.
The Spun: Skateboarding made its debut at the Tokyo Olympics. What do you think when you see how far the sport has come?
TH: It’s exciting. I’m really proud to be part of it, but I’m also very proud of the skaters rising up and showing their best. I think it’s going to help grow skateboarding internationally in a way that nothing else has before. Skating is already established in many countries, especially in the U.S., Australia and South America. But there are many other countries that haven’t experienced skateboarding or their government have discouraged it largely because they don’t see it as a positive influence on kids. I think that’s going to change now.
I was asked during an interview today:
“How does it feel to go to the Olympics and not be recognized by competing skaters, like Margielyn Didal?” So I had to explain that she was joking with her caption. My life is weird. pic.twitter.com/RvNQSFy7jt
— Tony Hawk (@tonyhawk) July 31, 2021
The Spun: You ever think to yourself, ‘They couldn’t have featured skateboarding at the Olympics earlier?”
TH: I don’t really, no. I see the intense pressure these skaters are under and I don’t feel fondness of that. I’m excited to have been a skater in the eras that I have and I’m mostly excited that I still get to do this and I’m considered relevant at all. I love that there’s a new generation of skaters and they’re showing how far skating has come. And what I love is that you can compete at all ages. We’ve already seen multiple 13 year olds capture gold medals, and that wasn’t an anomaly. But then you’ll see in the park event that veterans like Rune Glifberg, who is 46 years old, competing against teenagers.
The Spun: Who are some up-and-coming skateboarders that you’d like more people to start following?
TH: There were names on the podium from the Olympic street that people might not have known but we were all very aware of, especially Rayssa Leal from Brazil, who got her first start with a viral video of her in a fairy costume doing a heelflip. Going into the park event, one person to watch is Sakura Yosozumi. She’s a Japanese park skateboarder. I think she’s one of the best transition skaters we’ve ever seen. Lizzie Armanto, Jordyn Barratt, and Sky Brown are other skaters to watch for sure. I feel like Pedro Barros used to be the most dominant park skateboarder but hasn’t been in a few years. I’ve skated that park personally and I can tell you that it suits his style more than anything we’ve seen in the last year or so. Watch him because he’s literally going to be flying around.
— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) July 22, 2021
The Spun: You took on a commentary role for the Olympics. How was that transition from skater to commentator?
TH: I love it – it’s way less pressure than competing. I did commentary for the X Games for 10 years, so I’m used to trying to translate what’s happening in a skate event to a broader audience. I love doing it and I’m thankful NBC let me be there for the inaugural event. I do feel like I was able to cross that bridge for people who don’t understand what they were supposed to be looking at during the event.
The Spun: You gave the sports world so many awesome memories, like the first documented 900. Do you have a favorite memory from your skateboarding career?
TH: Sure, doing the 900 for the first time was definitely the highlight of my competitive career. It let me ease out in competing in a way where I ended on a high note. Honestly, one of my favorite memories isn’t from skating but an opportunity I got from skating. I was able to be on “The Simpsons” and have my own voice and character. It’s still one of the biggest honors I’ve ever had.
It's been 22 years since @tonyhawk became the first skateboarder to ever land a 900.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 27, 2021
The Spun: Did you every think the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater games would blow up the way they did?
TH: No, not at all. I just wanted to help create something that skateboarders would appreciate. To me, the biggest success would be to inspire skaters to buy a PlayStation. What I didn’t realize was that it resonated far beyond that because people liked the actual gameplay of it even if they didn’t skate, and then the game actually drew them into skating. I think that was the surprise takeaway of the series – it inspired a whole new generation of kids to pick up a skateboard. I never imagined we’d do a sequel, and then when we did a sequel I thought ‘This is as far as we can go,’ but then new consoles were developed and we made new games for those. I’m super proud of the series. We recently did the remastered version of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2, and I feel like we captured that same vibe in those.
The Spun: Which Hollywood actor would you pick to portray Tony Hawk in a movie?
TH: That is really difficult. I used to always say Anthony Michael Hall in the ‘80s because he was that nerdy kid who was always determined, but I’m probably dating myself with that one. Rory Culkin from “Signs” would be a good choice as well. But honestly, if you pick Timothee Chalamet, I know that people will come see the movie. So let’s go with Timothee.
You can read more of our interviews with athletes or media stars here.