Skateboarding legend Tony Hawk remembers coming to Utah in the 1990s, when Park City was one of the few places that allowed snowboarding.
Utah has “always been very progressive with what we consider ‘alternative sports,'” the skating pioneer said Tuesday. Hawk was in Utah for a ribbon cutting to unveil North America’s first Olympic-level skatepark at the Utah State Fairpark.
Back then, before hitting the slopes, Hawk would skate at “a very dirty warehouse skatepark” in Salt Lake City, a place that’s always had a “strong skate scene,” he said.
That scene will be on display this weekend during the Vans Park Series World Championships at the new skatepark on Sept. 6 and 7.
The championship tour will culminate in Salt Lake City and follows qualifying events that started May 18 and have taken place in China, Brazil, Canada and France.
The Utah Legislature kicked in $300,000 to help build the new Vans-Utah Sports Commission Skatepark. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the skateboard apparel company Vans donated the remaining $200,000.
In 2020, skateboarding will debut as an Olympic sport during the Summer Games in Tokyo.
“We think that some of the people you’ll see this week skating [in Salt Lake] will be on the podium in Tokyo,” said Jeff Robbins, president of the Utah Sports Commission.
Salt Lake’s new skatepark was designed by California Skateparks, the company that designed Hawk’s private backyard facility.
It features a variety of obstacles including deep bowls, rails, ramps, corners and halfpipes.
“You want to have [a park] that speaks to all different types of styles and skill levels,” Hawk said of what makes an Olympic-grade skatepark.
“We know for a fact that with the population here, the youth demographics, that the infrastructure of the skatepark will serve highly for the community,” said Bobby Gascon, Vans’ global director of sports marketing.