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Tony Hawk on Why Now Is the "Perfect Time for Skateboarding" Ahead of the 2024 Paris Games

The legendary athlete spoke to NBC Insider about skateboarding's inclusion in the Olympic Games while promoting his new campaign with Starbucks.

By Cydney Contreras

Throughout his professional skateboarding career, Tony Hawk has endured countless injuries. He's broken his femur, lost teeth, and had to undergo corrective eye surgery. And yet, he continues to skateboard at least four times a week.

"I still love skating just as much as I ever have. And I mean, my motivations have not changed. I just want to keep skating and try new techniques and stuff," the legend told NBC Insider while discussing his new "Don't Try This at Home" campaign with Starbucks to celebrate how easy it is to make their new Iced Coffee Blends and Cold Brew Concentrates.".

This unparalleled passion for the sport is not uncommon among skateboarders, professional or otherwise. During the 2020 Olympic Games, viewers witnessed Team USA's Jagger Eaton win the gold medal in street skating with a broken ankle, a triumphant moment for the then-20-year-old.

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"It's just been so fun to see skateboarding come of age; to see it grow; to see the inclusion factor; to see that ... parents encourage their kids to skate now [that] it's an Olympic sport. It's such a perfect time for skateboarding," Hawk reflected.

Skateboarding in the 2024 Olympics heralds changes in the sport

Jagger Eaton holds up his skateboard at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

The 2024 Paris Games will mark the second time that skateboarding is included as an Olympic sport and the stakes have never been higher. But this increased pressure is a good thing, with Hawk noting that current competitors "have more resources available" that he and his peers didn't necessarily have back then.

"I see, especially people like Jagger, Nyjah [Huston], and Tate Carew, they are so disciplined with their skating, that they're really going to be the top competitors and their approach to it is serious — and it should be! I mean, they're the best of the best in one of the most highly technical, riskiest sports," he shared.

Still, Hawk advises the athletes to "take a step back and enjoy the ride."

"I was so focused on my competing and my performances, that through my years of being their age, I kind of got lost in that and and didn't really embrace the friendships that I had made along the way," he said.

Tony Hawk's Gold Medal Moment

Tony Hawk skateboards down a ramp in a kitchen for a collab with starbucks

Hawk has celebrated many triumphs akin to winning a gold medal. Take, for example, the moment he nailed his first-ever 900 at the X Games in 1999. The move saw him skate up a ramp, do two and a half rotations on his skateboard while in mid-air before landing back on the ramp.

"That marked the end of my competitive career," he remembered. "And I didn't even plan to try it that night, but I was trying to figure out how I could ease out of competing and it was like, all of a sudden, that was it. I ended on a high note."

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Now, Hawk is taking things easy and enjoying less risky skateboarding moves, though one might argue that his moves in the Starbucks commercial pose a spill hazard. 

The Course at the Place de la Concorde

Hawk told NBC Insider that he will be on the ground at the 2024 Paris Olympics, where he will have the "privilege" of being one of the first people to test out the course situated at the historic Place de la Concorde. 

Fans can also expect to see Hawk cheering on Gavin Bottger, Jagger Eaton, Tate Carew, Tom Schaar, Taylor Nye, and Liam Pace, all of whom are qualified to represent Team USA in the Men's Park event, alongside Minna Stess, Bryce Wettstein, Ruby Lilley, Grace Marhoefer, Jordyn Barratt, and Lillian Erickson, who have qualified for the Women's Team.

In the Street portion of the competition, Huston, Alex Midler, Braden Hoban, Eaton, Jake Illardi, and Chris Joslin are qualified. The women's qualifier team is currently made up of Paige Heyn, Mariah Duran, Poe Pinson, and Meagan Guy.

Don't Miss

Watch live coverage of the Opening Ceremony on Friday, July 26, on NBC and Peacock beginning at 12 p.m. ET. Telemundo will provide Spanish-language coverage beginning at 1 p.m. ET. Primetime coverage starts at 7:30 p.m. ET/PT on NBC and Peacock.

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