SPORTS

Tony Hawk travels in style, with skateboard, ramp and posse of performers

07/12/2013 03:41 EDT | Updated 09/11/2013 05:12 EDT
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 on Calgary.

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 of the sport.

Hawk's first skateboard now resides in the Smithsonian. He has also skateboarded at the White House, in 2009 at a Father's Day forum hosted by President Barack Obama.

"Yeah that was more renegade," Hawk said. "That was more because I had my board and I had the opportunity.

"I didn't really have permission."

No stranger to Toronto, Hawk performed at a Toronto Argos game at the Rogers Centre in 2002.

He says the current Canadian visit is his first since his Boom Boom HuckJam Tour came north of the border six or seven years ago.

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Tony Hawk Tour

July 13: Calgary, Deerfoot Mall (Sport Chek parking lot), 901 64 Ave. NE

July 15: Winnipeg, Polo Park (Sport Chek parking lot), 1485 Portage Ave.

July 18: Toronto, Sherway Gardens (Sport Chek parking lot), 167 North Queen

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