Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Hawk still flying high at age 45

Skateboarding legend coming to Winnipeg Monday

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Have skateboard, will travel.

Tony Hawk, however, is going one better during his three-city tour of Canada. The skateboarding icon is bringing his own ramp and posse to stops in Calgary, Winnipeg and Toronto.

"That is my favourite skate facility so we get to sort of take a bit of home with us while we do this," Hawk told The Canadian Press on Friday prior to jumping on a plane for Saturday's stop in Calgary.

Hawk is making his first Winnipeg appearance since visiting The Forks in 2006 when he appears at the Polo Park Sport Chek store on Monday at 3 p.m.

The halfpipe ramp, which measures about four metres tall and nine metres wide, arrives by truck.

"It's a marvel of modern technology," Hawk said. "It's like a Lego set. It goes up very quickly and comes down quickly."

Hawk designed the ramp, which is a replica of the one he practises on.

"It's fun for us as skaters because then we don't really have to adjust to the ramp. We can take advantage of it and be used to it immediately. It's not like there's a breaking-in period."

At 45, Hawk continues to set an impressive pace. His Twitter bio -- he has more than 3.4 million followers -- reads "professional skateboarder, dad, videogame character, ceo, kid chauffeur, global hopscotcher, food glutton & public skatepark defender. I'm old; get over it."

He also has his own radio show and does TV commentary work.

On this Canadian tour, in partnership with Sport Chek and Quicksilver, he has some young company in the form of 16-year-old Mitchie Brusco, 20-year-old Lizzie Armanto and 24-year-old Elliot Sloan.

Hawk charts his own path but savours the talent around him.

"To be honest, I kind of take my own direction with the kind of stuff I do. So it's really fun to bounce ideas off each other but also just to see the evolution. With guys like Mitchie and Elliot, they're coming up with new stuff all the time and it's just fun to see that progression."

Veterans Lincoln Ueda and Kevin Staab are also part of the travelling circus.

"Some of the best skaters in the world," said Hawk. "We really cover the spectrum of styles of skating with people who go really big, technical, fast. Some X-Games stars too."

Hawk is up on the X-Games given that he has a contract to serve as a TV commentator on four of them a year. That means he gets a first-hand look at Montreal star Pierre-Luc Gagnon.

"He's one of the best vert skaters we've seen," Hawk said. "He's very determined, very devoted so he's a really good example of hard work. Because he is constantly practising and training and coming up with new ideas and pushing himself."

Hawk is equally committed. He says when he is not doing exhibition like the Canadian tour, he is practising on his own ramp.

He believes skateboarding is as healthy as ever, with several generations now enjoying the sport. His 20-year-old son Riley is a skateboarder in his own right (more street and skatepark-oriented), with his own sponsors.

"It's perceived as dangerous, (but) it's kept me healthy my whole life," Tony said.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 14, 2013 B16


Updated on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 3:20 PM CDT: Adds video, corrects subhead.

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