I saw some big things happened during your loop challenge back in August. Can you tell me a bit about that?
Tony Hawk: So I have this loop that we used for a tour a while back. It was something that we were doing in the show and less than 20 people have ever actually done it, or done similar ones. Every few years', I'll put it up for a new crop of skaters who have requested to try it. This time we put it up in conjunction with NextVR, so people could watch it live. Over the course of an hour, two new skaters were successful.
After NextVR left, Lizzie Armanto—who is one of our skaters on Birdhouse and an exceptional athlete and inspiration to woman in terms of skating and action sports—came back to it as they were leaving and said, "I'd like to try it again." Even though the event was over. I was fully supportive of that. So a few of us started helping her out and placing the pads in the right places. Less than an hour later, she was the first woman to successfully do it.
It's crazy to me that in terms of sports, skateboarding is still considered a young sport, but in 20 years time, I'm not sure how many females have attempted the loop.
Hawk: None, really. Up to that point, none had tried it. We had a few that came to try it. The day before [the loop challenge] I put it up and I allowed people to actually test it. And one girl did give it a go and she decided it wasn't for her. These are girls that I invited based on their abilities. Another girl brought her stuff and refused to even go down the starting ramp, because it's frightening. I mean, I don't blame them at all. It's one of the scariest things. And, and there's a big price to be paid if you do it wrong. I actually broke my pelvis on one of them a long time ago because it was a different design. It was really slow and I paid the price, so I totally understand how they feel once they see it in real life. Lizzie was one of the ones who tried it that day, but she wasn't really getting close, so I was surprised to have her come back the next day and then follow through again later on.
Can you explain why incorporating VR so that anyone can technically experience the "death loop" is a momentous thing?
Hawk: I mean [the fact] that we can do live events anywhere online is amazing to me, but the idea that we can do it in VR, you can see it in actual 3D and you can see the scope and the fear that people go through in that moment in real time—I think that's amazing. When [NextVR] approached me about it, they said, “What kind of event would you like to do live?” There are all kinds of things we could do with skateboarding. But I said no one's ever really seen this loop in real time. Every time you see someone do it, it's something that happened over the course of an hour with a lot of practice and a lot of help. And so to see that unfold in real time in full 3D is leaps ahead of anything that we've done.
You first did it in 1998.
Hawk: I tried one in 1995, but it was designed poorly so I ended up not successfully coming out of it that time. In 1998, we built a proper one and I finally did it.