Asphalt Acrobats; Building the Elite Athlete; Scientific American Presents; by Pearl Tesler; 6 Page(s)
In June 1999 professional skateboarder Tony Hawk made history by performing the impossible. Egged on by a wildly enthusiastic crowd at San Francisco's X Games, he nailed the first recorded "900"-a horizontal midair twist of two and a half revolutions (900 degrees)-high above the huge U-shaped "half-pipe" that launched him toward the California sky.
Starting at the right-hand top of the U, Hawk plunged down inside the half-pipe to gain speed, then vaulted up and out of the opposite wall. Airborne and parallel to the ground, he immediately tucked his body, clutched the skateboard and spun two and a half rotations-finishing quickly enough that he could again extend his legs and push the board back against the left wall of the U before crashing down into the cement pipe's trough. To skateboard fanatics, the 900 was so difficult a maneuver that it seemed to be beyond an invisible barrier. It had eluded Hawk's efforts for 10 long years.