Tony Hawk and his Vert Alert back in Salt Lake City for the Olympic Games
“I feel like we’re going to make enough noise with this event that the IOC can’t ignore it.”
If Tony Hawk gets his way and Paris 2024 organizers add green skateboarding to the Olympic program for the first time, Utah should at least be mentioned in the historical footnotes.
Hawk had been trying for years to create a series of green skateboarding, a crucial step in the discipline – essentially halfpipe skating – becoming an Olympic sport. But he didn’t have much luck until last year, when the Utah Athletic Commission offered to host the first Tony Hawk Vert Alert at Utah State Fairpark.
This year the Vert Alert added a stopover in Las Vegas in addition to a return to Salt Lake City in August. And Hawk within two years plans to bring the high-flying sport into millions of homes as part of the 2024 Summer Games.
“We’re trying to make it a series. We want to make it international,” Hawk said Thursday during the commission’s State of Sport awards at Vivint Arena. “And…I feel like there’s a serious oversight in skating competitions with halfpipe skating and I’m just grateful that we now have a spark to start and let’s go.
“I feel like we’re going to make enough noise with this event,” he added, “that the IOC can’t ignore it.”
Hawk’s Vert Alert was honored as the 2021 event of the year. It was held last summer alongside the first Street League Skateboarding Championship Tour event of the season. The Street League competition brought together Nyjah Huston, Rayssa Leal and many of the athletes who competed when skateboarding made its Olympic debut in Tokyo in July. These Games only included street discipline.
Street skateboarding takes place on a course that resembles a park or square, with rails, stairs and benches. The vert skateboard is the older cousin of the halfpipe snowboard, with athletes trying to get as high off the ledge of a ramp as possible while performing flips and twists.
Hawk said he was “proud and grateful that skateboarding is finally included in the Olympics”. But, he also struggled with the exclusion of vert skating, which is the foundation of halfpipe snowboarding. Halfpipe was one of two disciplines featured when snowboarding made its Olympic debut in 1998.
“I feel like vertical halfpipe skating is a staple of skateboarding. And that’s where most of the gymnastic elements and high-flying stuff happens,” Hawk said. Seeing that the highlights of the Tokyo Games were the laps of green done on the park course, I thought, ‘Why don’t we have green?!'”
So he sets out to change that. And it starts with Vert Alert.
“I feel like we’re going to make enough noise with this event,” Hawk said, “that the IOC can’t ignore it.”
Hawk said representatives of the Utah Athletic Commission, which was established in 2012 to promote the hosting of sporting events in the state, approached him while he was attending a Vans Park event. Series at the Fairpark before the pandemic.
“I wasn’t even throwing it. It was more, ‘What would you like to do?’ said Hawk. “And I said, ‘Well, if you want my dream scenario, I want to bring my green ramp here and do a green event. And they said, ‘Let’s go.
Hawk, who recently appeared on stage at the Oscars alongside snowboarder Shaun White and surfer Kelly Slater, is still skating. He showed up at the event in Salt Lake City last summer as part of a “legends demo.” He hopes to compete again this summer even though he broke his femur last month – while skating – and was walking with a cane at the State of Sports awards ceremony.
Still, he does not plan to be on the list of competitors in Paris.
That doesn’t mean he won’t be on the ramp, though. Even on the street course in Tokyo, Hawk couldn’t resist sneaking into a session.
“I went rogue and fell in the skate park without permission,” he said, “like a skateboarder would.”
State of Sport Awards
The annual State of Sports Awards Ceremony brought together approximately 50 past and present Olympians. Among them were speed skater Erin Jackson and skier Alex Hall, who won the Female and Male Olympian of the Year awards respectively.
Tony Finau was named Professional Athlete of the Year, while Kyle Whittingham and the Utah Football Team were named Coach and Team of the Year.
The other winners were Marybai Huking (adaptive athlete), Whittni Orton of BYU (female college athlete), Devin Lloyd of Utah (male college athlete), Maggie Mendelson of Fremont High (female high school athlete), and Cody Hagen of Corner Canyon (male high school athlete). school athlete).
The Lewis Feild Memorial Award for Best Cowboy in the State went to Stetson Wright, and mountain biker Tom van Steenbergen won Highlight of the Year.
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