At Vert Alert, Tony Hawk keeps his promise and gets back on ramp

Skateboarding icon, 54, rode again for first time in public since breaking his leg in March

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Iconic skateboarder Tony Hawk returns to the ramp to skate in public for the first, and possibly last, time since breaking his femur in March as he enters the “Legends Demo” at his Tony Hawk Vert Alert big-air skateboarding competition at the Utah Sate Fairpark on Friday, Aug. 26, 2022.

Tony Hawk promised to give the people what they wanted Friday night at the Utah State Fairpark, and the people showed up.

Fans of skateboarding and admirers of Hawk alike filled the center sections of the Utah State Fairpark arena from top to bottom to watch the sport’s most luminous figure take his turn on the two-story tall HuckJam Ramp that had been trucked out from Los Angeles. This is the second year Hawk had staged his nascent Vert Alert skateboarding contest in Salt Lake City and he promised those attending the “Legends Demo” would get to see him drop in. He made the guarantee even though the 54-year-old had not skated in public since before he broke his femur five months ago — an injury that required a titanium rod to be placed in his leg.

“I’m definitely not at the level that I had hoped I’d be,” Hawk told The Salt Lake Tribune in the run-up to the event. “But at the same time, I can’t miss it. I mean, this event is too important to me.”

Hawk was joined on the ramp by such legends as Sandro Dias and Lincoln Ueda and Andy Macdonald, who stole the show, as well as the likes of Christian Hosoi and Lizzie Armanto. He wasn’t the only one banged up either. Bucky Lasek dropped into the showcase despite dropping out of the main competition with an injury and Cara-Beth Burnside was sidelined for the whole event.

Hawk had a noticeable limp, though not as prominent as it was in April when showed up to accept the 2021 Event of the Year award from Utah Sports Commission at Vivint Arena. He also appeared frustrated when his first few official runs ended in falls. Still, Hawk held his own and showed he still knows how to put on a show.

“Till the wheels fall off,” he told an adoring crowd that would later give him a standing ovation, referencing both his motto and a recently released documentary about the latter part of his career.

Earlier in the day, high-flying skateboarders — some as young as 8 — took their turn on the ramp as they battled for a spot in the Vert Alert finals and a share of the $75,000 purse. The finals will be held Saturday, starting at 3 p.m. for the women and 4:15 p.m. for the men. A “Best Trick” competition is set for 5 p.m.

In addition to the contest, Woodward Park City will be holding free skateboarding clinics and coaching sessions for all ages from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.

The event is free, though parking in the Fairpark lot costs $10.