God of Skateboarding Smites Montana

Tony Hawk visits Polson Montana Skatepark

Did I say smite? I meant smiles on Montana. Man, when Tony comes to your town, better stop the presses and shoot that frontside grind. Especially if you have a Darth Vader helmet at your local park. What a great name for a newspaper – The Leader & The Advertiser. Also, please applaud the fake highligter marker effect.

He made another surprise appearance at a skate park. Why not, Polson did receive a grant from the Tony Hawk Foundation. That’s a fairly interesting shot of the new Dreamland park with the love it or hate it Darth Vader Helmet. The text of the article is filled with the usual “invented the 900” and “X-games” litany. Check it out.

Tony Hawk in Montana

Last Saturday Tony Hawk — the legendary skater — and his band of pro boarders made an unscheduled stop at the Polson skatepark, prior to making a much publicized appearance in Missoula to break in the city’s newly opened park.

He is the biggest name in skateboarding — the man who invented the ollie-to-indy, the airwalk and the backside varial — the man who did a 900 at the X-games (that’s two and a half rotations).

His career spans decades. As the owner of Birdhouse Skateboards, his name is stamped on myriad of merchandise from apparel to boards. And if you’re a parent of a teenager, chances are you’ve purchased one of his best-selling “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater” video games.

With him were a half dozen more pros including Mike Vallely and Andrew Reynolds. Those names might not be as household as Tony Hawk, but they are equally celebrated among the skater community.

Vallely said that the stop was completely impromptu. When they arrived at the park, there were about a dozen skaters. All it took was one skater with a cell phone and word spread faster than you can say “Varial McTwist.” In a mere 20 minutes or so, that dozen multiplied tenfold as more than a hundred excited devotees flocked to see the Birdman and crew in action.

It’s all part of Hawk’s Secret Skatepark Tour where he and a half dozen pros travel the U.S. and show up unannounced at various parks to amaze the masses.

“He said he does this all the time,” said Parks Director Karen Sargeant who managed to snag a few minutes with the man between signing autographs.

“He’s such a cool guy. Really down to earth,” she said.

Sargeant had planned to be out of town that day, but when she heard the news, she changed course and went to the park to personally thank him for his $25,000 donation.

“All I wanted to do was thank him,” she said. “I thanked him profusely.”

She said a co-worker had been trying to tell her the news throughout the day, calling repeatedly on her cell phone.

“I was thinking crisis,” she said “but when he told me I was like ‘No. Seriously! You’re kidding.'”

Sargeant said she was well aware of the name, but had no idea what he looked like. But spotting him wasn’t hard, she said. He was the lanky guy bombarded by boarders eager for his signature.

“I knew who he was by the throngs of kids around him,” she said.

Hawk had a film crew with him and Sargeant wound up in front of the camera. They had her provide a history of the park and explain why it’s important to area youth to have the facility. The segment will likely end up on “Tony Hawk’s Secret Skatepark Tour 3” the latest installment in the popular video series.

Area skater Cody Repnak could also make an appearance in the video.

“One of the [photographers] pulled me aside and asked me a question about the park. He told me to mull it over for five minutes and let him know when I was ready,” said Repnak.

It took several takes, but the interview went well, he said.

When Hawk wasn’t on his board, he was surrounded by fans generously providing items for him to sign. Hats, T-shirts, skateboards — really anything that could be graced with his Sharpie.

“Thanks for the park Tony,” said one skater while getting Hawk’s signature on his shirt.

“The energy coming off that thing was phenomenal,” said Sargeant. “Just watching those kids lit me up.”

But with Hawk and his crew already planning to visit Missoula, just 60 miles south, should it have come as such a surprise that he’d make a stop in Polson to skate a park he had donated toward? Skater Isaac Knudsen speculated that it was possible.

“I actually thought about it,” said Knudsen. “I mean, they hit everywhere last year and this year we have a park, so I thought they might hit here.”

Isaac was one of a dozen skaters at the park before Hawk and friends arrived.

“They just walked over here,” he said. “We were all thinking, ‘Could it be him?’ But I didn’t want to get my hopes dashed.”

As they got closer, there was no doubt about it. The pros had arrived.

“I just crapped my pants. It was insane — the coolest feeling,” he said.

And with all the excitement surrounding Hawk’s visit, now is the perfect time for organizers of the Skate Ignatius project to gain some public interest. St. Ignatius skater Keenan Nerby, catalyst for the project, went to Missoula during Hawk’s demonstration on Sunday where he and his mom set up a booth and sold $1,200 in T-shirts and sweaters to raise funds for a community skatepark.

Keenan was also in Polson to see Hawk and his dad Bruce managed to shake the legend’s hand.

The St. Ignatius park already got the green light from the city and they have acquired a plot of land.

His mom Kristie said the Missoula Skatepark Association caught wind of the project and agreed to back their efforts. It’s part of the association’s transition to a statewide organization, which will be called the Montana Skatepark Association, which will help fund parks in rural communities across the state.

“They just came up to us and said ‘You guys are in the perfect position for us to help build your park,'” Kristie said. “It was just being in the right place at the right time.”

With the recent completion of the Missoula skatepark, a project that has been years in the making, one of the founders of MSA, Ross Peterson, said that they will now be available to offer their expertise to rural skatepark organizations.

“We were the driving force behind [the Missoula Skatepark] and we realized we had something special in Missoula with a group of people who were real motivated and had a passion for skateboarding,” Peterson said.

Rather than let that go to waste, the MSA will keep the momentum going by assisting where they can, however they can. They will focus on one project at a time and act as consultants, and maybe in the future, be able to facilitate grants, he explained.

Right now, Montana is “leading the pack in skateparks per capita,” Peterson said, and the MSA hope to maintain that.

“We feel that skateboarding can make a difference,” he said “especially in smaller communities.”

4 Comments

  1. So when will the bird land in a local Oregon park?

  2. He wont, Oregon is sooo 2001.

  3. HollyisTooWild on October 29, 2006 - Reply

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  4. james_Bennit13209 on October 30, 2006 - Reply

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