Cirque du Xtreme
Even if you haven't seen Lords of Dogtown or its documentary-style precursor, Dogtown and Z-Boys, it isn't hard to imagine the enormous progress made in the world of skateboarding since the early days. Back then, street skating was something to do when the parks were closed, and freestyle was for geeks who wore tube socks and board shorts. However, if vert skating hadn't integrated all those flippity-dippity freestyle and street tricks, it'd be about as cool today as, well, tube socks and board shorts. And for all the hype and hoopla surrounding skateboarding maven Tony Hawk, it's hard to fathom the sport without him. Do you think the X-Games or the Gravity Games would be as popular had Hawk taken up basketball instead? One thing's for certain -- Tony Hawk's Boom Boom HuckJam wouldn't be around at all.
Now in its third year, Boom Boom HuckJam continues to push the limits of skateboarding, BMX biking, and motocross. Not only are the ramps bigger and the airs fatter but many of the tricks are choreographed among the three sports. Were P.T. Barnum still alive, he'd make those daring young trapeze guys learn how to ride a vert ramp. Or he'd do the smart thing and hire Hawk and his crew of HuckJammers -- skaters Andy Macdonald, Lincoln Ueda, Rune Glifberg, and Sergie Ventura; BMXers Mat Hoffman, Dennis McCoy, Chad Kagy, and Kevin Robinson; and motocross madmen Drake McElroy, Ronnie Faisst, Jeremy Stenberg, and Dustin Miller.
This year's big addition to the HuckJam course is the "Bad-Ass Ramp," a 42-foot roll-in that leads up to a giant launch ramp. That's a dicey enough feat in itself, but it doesn't end there; after landing on the opposing bank ramp (thus gaining even more speed), Hawk and his iron-balled buddies run straight up a 20-foot vert quarter-pipe -- and, hopefully, straight back down. If it's possible to go from zero to 60 in six seconds on a skateboard, this is how to do it.
While it's beyond cliché to refer to Hawk as "the Michael Jordan of skateboarding," it's equally simplistic to refer to Mat Hoffman as "the Tony Hawk of BMXing" -- but it's an understandable comparison. After all, they're the biggest celebrities of their respective sports, and they tour together more than the Rolling Stones. Hoffman does backflips; Hawk does 900-degree spins. Hoffman is "Condor"; Hawk is, you know, Hawk. And though both fly higher and faster than Robert Downey Jr. on a 747, it's the motocross crew that really turns the danger up a notch.
McElroy and the other free-wheelin' freestylers take no-hands daredevilry to the extreme, going no-feet as well -- sometimes all at once. Needless to say, we don't need to explain the consequences of not getting your feet back on the pedals in time.
This all sounds nice and all, but we know what the kids really want... autographs! So there'll be plenty of signing and schmoozing and an amateur skate demo before the main event. It's just like the old days -- but with hipper clothing.
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