Everything was totally hot—or rad, if you prefer, or ripping or blazing—at the Transworld Skateboard Championships last week at Vancouver's Expo '86. Tony Hawk showed rad moves that were hot as could be as he won the vertical competition. He dazzled an overflow crowd of 4,500 with aerial flips, twists and toe-taps on his board. "I skated completely my best," he said. And freestyle champ Rodney Mullen, an introspective engineering student from Gainesville, Fla., was so totally hot that the five judges gave him the sport's first-ever perfect score. All 147 competitors from 17 countries—with their Jams, earrings, tattoos and two-toned hair—they were all hot. And the mood itself, the mood was totally hot.
It was made hotter by the debate that boils at the center of this resurgent pastime: Is skateboarding a serious sport, or is it kidstuff? "The street scene is part of it, we don't deny that," said Frank Hawk, Tony's father and the president of the four-year-old National Skateboard Association. "But we see it more like surfing. We're trying to show it as a sport." Skateboard equipment manufacturer Fausto Vitello argued, "They want to make it like Little League, but skateboarders are anticompetition."
Punked-out Steve Caballero, who finished third in vertical, certainly wasn't anticompetition. In fact, he took the competition so seriously that he created the totally hottest incident of the tournament. After finishing his performance, he was so pumped up he smashed his board onto the asphalt. The young punk groupies scrambled for the souvenir, and a fight broke out that escalated into a mob scene on the hill outside the stadium. "It was heavy, bro," said one competitor. NSA board member Jack Smith stared at the near riot and said, "This sport doesn't have maturity." No, but it's got heat.
BIG PURSE FOR POOCH
Staff writer Demmie Stathoplos reports from Seabrook, N.H.:
The dog days of August at Seabrook Greyhound Park came to a close Saturday when Ben G Speedboat, a 9-to-1 long shot, won the $250,000 Great Greyhound Race of Champions, the richest event in the history of the sport. But the race itself was almost an anticlimax after a month of festivity and frivolity.
In early August, 71 greyhounds from 24 tracks arrived on the New Hampshire coast to begin trials for the eight-dog final. There followed not only the eliminations but also a myriad of formal and not-so-formal affairs. The track staged a canine cuisine contest, with the dogs as judges. There was a four-legged fashion show. And as a salute to the state's first-in-the-nation presidential primary, a specially named seven-dog field staged a runoff: Cuomo easily beat Reagan, Kennedy, Bush and others on the ticket.
The light touches obscured the fact that dog racing has become a serious, lucrative business. It is now the sixth most popular spectator sport in the country; attendance at dog tracks last year exceeded 23 million. As it has risen in popularity, the sport has tried to shuck the low reputation that plagued it for years. For example, six years ago, old or broken-down racers were routinely destroyed. Now there is REGAP (Retired Greyhounds As Pets), which functions as an adoption agency for over-the-hill hounds. The most elegant of the several Seabrook fetes was a fundraising dinner for REGAP.
The main event on Saturday night drew a capacity crowd of 5,106, and when the Styrofoam bone that serves as a lure went zipping by the starting boxes, Ben G Speedboat went zipping right after it, breaking to the lead early and holding it to become the top dog in the land. As a blanket of yellow chrysanthemums was laid on the quivering body of the winner, his trainer, Steve Pfluger of Portland, Ore., said, "I can't believe it. I couldn't dream of winning $125,000. I can't believe it." Ben, who was panting as hard as Pfluger, comforted his master with a lick on the nose.
THE GALLOPING GHOSTS OF URI
Digging a trench recently to install wiring for a new scoreboard at the University of Rhode Island's Meade Stadium, workers discovered two thigh bones and a fragment of a pelvic bone. Further excavation turned up teeth, jawbones and coffin nails, which were said to be evidence of a 19th-century family burial plot. They say when you walk into Notre Dame Stadium you can sense the ghosts of past gridiron heroes. Walking into Meade Stadium may produce a similarly disquieting sensation—perhaps for a better reason.