Skateboarding legend Tony Hawk, who turned 43 last week, isn't slowing down on the board. In fact, he's actually speeding up.
"With today's skateboarders being so diverse and challenging, you have to do things to keep up. And I've tried it all," said Hawk, the most successful skateboarder in history. "Seriously, years ago, would you go down a handrail or a set of stairs? Would you consider a 540 above a lip? Skateboarding really has evolved."
With that growth comes the news Tuesday that the X Games will expand to six action sports competitions annually beginning in 2013. Called Global X, the initiative will combine three new international events with the X Games in Los Angeles and Winter X Games in Aspen, Colo., and Tignes, France. The sites of the three new events will be determined by a competitive bidding process beginning in 2012.
"The interest around the world is justified. You're talking Australia, Brazil, certain parts of Europe, and there are so many places that are untapped," said Hawk, who'd like to help ESPN in announcing those events. "As a kid, I was never one to covet skateboarding as an exclusionary sport. I always saw the possibilities that you can gain self-confidence and have some artistic expression."
First held in 1995 in Rhode Island, the X Games is now in its 17th year (X Games 17 returns to Los Angeles from July 28-31). This year, two events were held outside the United States -- Winter X Games Europe in Tignes, France, and X Games Asia in Shanghai, China. In past years, competitions have been held in 14 countries, including Brazil, Mexico and Malaysia.
Beginning in January 2012, ESPN will conduct a formal bid process to determine the X Games host cities. Final cities will be selected next year for a three-year agreement and will work with ESPN to stage the event.
Hawk is looking forward to the various countries coming forward. He thinks he'll put his skateboard aside during those Games. Well, almost.
"I think I'll have to compete in the so-called 'Masters event,'" he joked. "And I usually jump in there during practice rounds with the guys. They have welcomed me to do that. I love being in the mix. I've always had the passion. I'll never get bored riding my skateboard."