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This skateboarder is on a roll

Professional skateboarder Tony Hawk, who was in the city to wow audiences with 900 degree spins, safety first, daring later

Gravity's got nothing on Tony Hawk. In the skateboarding circuit, Hawk, nicknamed The Birdman, is one of the biggest names to grace the wheels. The highest-grossing skateboarder, he is also the first person to perform a '900' --  a two-and-a-half revolution (900 degrees) aerial spin on a ramp -- one of the most technically demanding tricks known in skateboarding.



The 43 year-old was in the city on Saturday with riders Kevin Staab, Andy MacDonald, Sam Bosworth and 15 year-old Mitchie Brusco to showcase stunts on an 18 m-high ramp at the Dhirubhai Ambani International school grounds.

Quiksilver Inc, an international outdoor sports lifestyle company has sponsored his trip. Hawk is also the inspiration behind The Tony Hawk's series, a video game designed with guest characters ranging from Spiderman to Shrek incorporated in the gameplay. 

However,  Hawk never planned to see himself in a digital avatar. Stakeboarding started out quite by chance, says Hawk. "My elder brother used to skate around the house. One day he left his old skateboard in the garage and asked me to try it. I liked it but I didn't think about it too seriously."

For beginners, he recommends starting out with the Ollie, the most basic trick that is a simple jump, which forms the basis for a lot of other tricks. A kick flip involves kicking the base of the skateboard to make it flip.
But the recommendation comes with fair warning.

"I have broken my skull, teeth and my bones way too many times. Still, skateboarding is not half as dangerous as some other sports. It's important to wear a helmet, knee pads and elbow pads especially if you are skateboarding on a vertical ramp. The helmet has saved my life many times and I would never get on the ramp without it," he advises.

While Hawk wanted to pursue skateboarding as a career, he was still not sure if he would be able to make a living of it. "No one really made a successful career out of skateboarding. I knew I could make a profession of the sport only after graduating from high school," he says. 

When he started out 26 years ago at the age of 17, the avenues were few and far between. "There are far better chances of succeeding today than when I was younger. It's more difficult to stay in the limelight and make a name now, but if you are serious and want to make a career of it, there are a still a lot more opportunities," he says. Hawk retired from competitive skateboarding at the age of 31, but continues to practise for two hours every day.

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