Status: 25.09.2023, 19:00 p.m.
By: Vinzent Fischer
Tom Kleinhans from Wackersberg takes a trip to the roots of skating in California. Among other things, he meets superstar Tony Hawk.
Wackersberg – The sun sets over the skyscrapers of San Francisco as a man approaches the Golden Gate Bridge with a skateboard in his hand. These are scenes from the online documentary film "Flying Flamingo", which accompanies Tom Kleinhans alias Tom Cat from Wackersberg on his journey to California. Together with friends, the skateboarder, who has been successful for years, went to the United States in search of the origins of extreme sports.
"A really cool trip": Wackersberger Tom Kleinhans on the trail of skate history
"It was a very spontaneous thing," explains the 28-year-old in an interview with our newspaper. Actually, he had already planned a trip to California last year, but it had to be canceled. This year it has now worked. Kleinhans was accompanied by Thomas Winkler, a skater with a prosthetic leg, and David Baban, who was responsible for the filming and the elaborate editing.
"It was a really cool trip," says the passionate skater. "Thomas has never seen the sea in his life. It was great to accompany him." He himself has already been to California, for him it is something of a place of longing. "Everyone there has a skateboard, even homeless people," says Kleinhans.
Tom Kleinhans has been a passionate skater for 20 years. © Archive
In California, the extreme sport was also invented when surfers were looking for a similar activity to do when the waves in the sea were too shallow. The Wackersberger spent a total of three weeks in California. "That was the trip of a lifetime," enthuses Kleinhans, who has been skating for 20 years. "The weather there is always good. We were all happy and got along without arguing," he recalls.
Tölzer skater Tom Kleinhans meets dazzling skateboard personalities
In the Golden State, the skaters were able to get to know important personalities of the scene. The meetings were inspiring experiences, Kleinhans reports. There were the revolutionary Chris Haslam, the professional skateboarders Andy Anderson and Daewon Song, and Tracie Garacochea, who has no legs and therefore skates in a wheelchair.
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Fancy a voyage of discovery?
Arguably the most famous man Kleinhans and his friends have met, however, is skate superstar Tony Hawk. In 1999, the Californian became the first person to perform a so-called 900, a 900-degree rotation that is considered the most difficult trick in the world.
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"I've had the chance to get to know him before," says Tom Kleinhans. It was through this contact that the meeting in California came about. Like many others, he played Tony Hawk's video game series as a child, which made skating internationally famous. "He builds a lot of skate parks there," says Kleinhans, explaining the importance of the skate star. The meeting was "very relaxed and friendly". However, one thing caught his eye. "I've noticed that a lot of skaters seem baseless. They don't have a regular daily routine," explains the 28-year-old. "I'd feel lost with that."
One of only 18 people in the world: Kleinhans succeeds in looping
Kleinhans returns home from the United States with a clear insight: "Skateboarding is the right thing for me." It promotes self-confidence, sharpens the sense of balance and is healthy. "Skating provides inner peace, like meditating." It is like a valve through which pressure can be released.
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Tom Kleinhans picked up tips for the next manoeuvre from Tony Hawk. The goal was to go through a loop. "I didn't have an assist. I just got some wood and screws and got started," says the 28-year-old.
Tom Kleinhans from Wackersberg was one of only 18 people to skateboard a loop. He picked up tips for this from superstar Tony Hawk in California. © Private
When the looping was finished, it was time to practice. It took him "certainly 450 attempts" until it finally worked. Now he is one of only 18 people in the world to have achieved the feat. He had to pay for it with a cut above his eye and a stay in hospital. "With age, you get more respect," says Kleinhans. Nevertheless, he continues to live by the motto: "No risk, no fun" – to German: no risk, no fun. (vfi)
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