Tony and Riley Hawk Talk About the State of Skating and Their Relationship

“There’s a strange and kind of frustrating aspect to modern skating.”

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Sports
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Tony Hawk needs no introduction as he’s one of the most, if not the most iconic skaters of all-time. So being the son of the Michael Jordan of skating was a challenge that his eldest son Riley knew he would have to overcome one day in his own right. Sitting down with GQ Style, you get the feeling that Riley definitely has come into his own and is not overcast by his father’s enormous shadow. The 49-year-old Tony and 24-year-old Riley talk about upcoming videos and tricks, the state of the industry, and their unbreakable father-and-son bond.

Read some select highlights and head over to GQ Style for the full piece.

On modern skating:
Tony – There’s a strange and kind of frustrating aspect to modern skating. Tricks are so technical and you have to be so precise to do something new that you can try the same trick, in the same way, in the same place, for weeks and not get it, and then one day, one try, it clicks. There’s no learning process. It’s a lottery. A few of the tricks in my Birdhouse part happened like that, and I don’t like it. In the past, you tweak something and figure it out, and then you’d unlock the secret. A lot of tricks aren’t like that now. I do them, but I don’t learn anything.

Riley – Yeah, when I start trying a trick, I just have to keep trying. It’s like a one-in-a-million kind of thing.

Tony – But that to me is super disappointing. We should be celebrating that we did it or that it worked out this one time, and there is an elation that comes when you make a new trick, a feeling that can’t be matched. But it’s short-lived. I like honing a skill and learning something, knowing you can do it going forward.

Riley – One of the things I’ve noticed about skaters, especially once you get to a certain level, is that nobody wants to find themselves in that greatest-hits era.

On what happened to the industry:
Tony – In full transparency, I’ve dumped so much money into this Birdhouse video, so much money that I have no hope of recouping it, but the hope is that it will bring back sales. Because our sales don’t justify what I pay the team riders. It’s a big risk, and it’s so weird to think I have one of the best teams in the world and [Birdhouse] can barely cover their meager paychecks. But, I mean, these skaters are risking their lives.

Riley – Yeah, I remember coming to my dad a while back because I was tripped out by what’s going to happen in the next year or so. Skating’s definitely huge, but companies are going under and no one’s buying stuff. Sure, they’re buying longboards and penny boards, and maybe they wear Thrasher shirts, but at best it’s a weekend-warrior type of thing. They’re not out jumping fences, getting kicked out by security guards, getting hurt, and having to deal with it. I just feel like I have to keep doing this no matter what. It’s who I am.

On each balancing father-and-son relationship as skaters:
Tony – I’ve seen Riley get injured really badly, and that’s hard for me, but I’m not going to discourage him from doing it. He’s always had a really good sense of his limitations and how to test the waters. I trust Riley’s instincts, but it sucks to see him hurt.

Riley – It’s definitely scary, but you just have to shut it out. You have to do that when you’re skating and when you’re watching a friend or family member.

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Image Credit
Michael Schmelling

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