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Skateboard legend Tony Hawk cruises through NYC

Tony Hawk

Tony Hawk Photo Credit: Getty Images

Tony Hawk, perhaps history’s most celebrated skater, is in town Friday to see what tricks he can pull out on a giant halfpipe.

The Tony Hawk Vert Jam exhibition (free, 2 p.m., Hudson River Park’s Pier 54) is part of the kickoff for the Quiksilver Pro New York surf competition, which also opens Thursday in Long Beach.

Although Hawk retired from the pro skating tour in 1999, the 43-year-old legend said he now skates “more than ever."

“I never stopped skating,” Hawk told amNewYork during a telephone interview from his native San Diego. “And that’s the kind of skating I prefer, is more exhibition-style. Because you’ve got more freedom. You don’t have to put everything together in one routine. You can try stuff, you can fall, you can get up and try it again.”

What is the difference between vertical skating and street skating? Vertical was born out of pool skating — empty swimming pools. And that’s the era that I grew up skating. If you were a skateboarder, you either did street style — which was like, like dancing and pirouettes and things — or you did pool skating — which was way cooler, as far as I was concerned. (Laughs). So that’s what I did. And that evolved into what is known as vert — vert ramps — which were built to emulate pool walls.

So it’s more about doing aerial maneuvers. Most of the population now skates, what, like skate-park or street-style skating, which is more about ledges and benches and handrails and stuff like that.

Do you maintain an interest in the street side? I do sort of enough street skating to get by, but when I really dove into it, I’d say, like in the early ’90s, I went through a lot of injuries that I felt like, ‘If I’m gonna keep going that route, you know, it’s gonna take me out.’ And I wasn’t like at the forefront of street skating anyway, you know what I mean? So I didn’t want to take myself out doing something that, you know, a top amateur can do. ... I had a lot of ankle problems. Jumping down a flight of stairs can really mess with your ankle stability.

Do your kids skate? My oldest son is a street skater but he’s got a really good skill set because he grew up in skate parks, skating with me a lot. So he can sort of go both directions with it. And my other two sons actually just have been skating a lot in the last year.

What are the crowds like at your events? A lot of families, dads who used to skate — even out here [in New York], like in the ’80s. And then their kids are getting into it. It covers all ages, really. I think that skating has a much broader appeal now than ever.

You got 2.6 million followers on Twitter (@tonyhawk) — how are you succeeding with that tool? I think I was doing things that people weren’t really doing. I did my own sort of treasure hunt. ... Just trying to stay engaging and entertaining. I see so much sort of drivel out there with people — they’ll post things that just really aren’t interesting to anyone. And I just try to stay interesting.

When will your video game franchise expand to the touch-screen tablet format? For a pad? I can’t really answer that right now, because we are in talks and I’m hopeful to do something. But I don’t know the platforms quite yet. I wish I could say, ‘Yeah, this is happening.’ But there’s a few different ideas floating around. I jumped the gun with my optimism — and they don’t really like that, when I do that.

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