Do not underestimate the skill, resolve or toughness of a professional skateboarder.
Those who watched skating legend Tony Hawk and his Birdhouse team riders perform at Woodward Tahoe on Wednesday know that well.
As part of their Birdhouse Left Coast Tour, Hawk and 10 other pro skaters entertained a crowd of about 300 spectators on the Eastern Front Mini-Ramp at the base of Boreal Mountain Resort, where the recently opened Woodward Tahoe action sports training center is located.
“The show was awesome,” said 17-year-old Ryan Kale, who made the trip up from Colfax to watch the free skating demo. “It was great seeing Tony out there and all the other pros. This is actually the first demo I've been to.”
The one-hour, afternoon demo was not short on action.
Highlighted by the performances of Hawk and teammates Aaron “Jaws” Homoki, Shawn Hale, David Loy, Shaun Gregoire and Michael Davis, to name a few, the Birdhouse team members drew cheers of recognition for every technical trick they stuck and “oohs” and “aahs” with every spill.
That's where the toughness and resolve complemented skill — like when Loy launched over the head of Hawk in a coordinated maneuver, only to crash straight onto his shoulder with a resounding thump. Being the tough-natured skateboarder that he is, Loy pulled himself to his feet after a few moments in a heap and was back on his board within a minute's time, attempting once again to stomp the crowd-pleasing trick. Which he did.
Even Hawk himself, who's been skating professionally for some three decades, spinning the first-ever 900 in competition at the 1999 X Games, is not immune to such wipeouts. After one of his stylish handplants, his board rolled out from under his feet on the landing, sending the surprisingly tall icon — he's every bit of 6 foot 3 — crashing to his back in the flat of the ramp.
As Hawk leaned his head against a railing, allowing a moment for the pain in his back to subside, a young fan made his way over — quite possibly a Woodward Tahoe camper.
“Tony, Tony,” he said.
“Yeah,” replied Hawk without lifting his head.
“That was awesome,” the kid said.
Hawk smiled, took another moment to recover, then scurried up the ramp and dropped in again.
“It's been fun,” Hawk said afterward of the eight-stop Birdhouse Left Coast Tour, which began this past Saturday in Santa Clarita, Calif., and concludes July 28 in Vancouver, B.C., with stops in between at San Jose, Sacramento, Grants Pass (Ore.), Spokane (Wash.) and Seattle.
“We actually have been here once before (for the Woodward Tahoe opening last month), so it was nice to come to a place we're familiar with. Most places we go we've never been before, so I was happy that we knew what to expect and kind of had our stuff already planned out here.”
As far as the Woodward Tahoe venue, Hawk said the mini-ramp shrouded in lodgepole pine atop Donner Summit is not typical of what the athletes normally skate.
“No, not really. Usually we're at a cement park in the middle of a city. But I like it. It's great scenery. Tahoe's beautiful. So we're real excited to come,” he said.
Other Birdhouse team members included Kevin Staab, Willy Santos, Clint Walker, Clive Dixon and Elliot Sloan.