Levi Hawken’s Most Hectic Hillbombs, Rated By Levi Hawken

We caught up with the man himself to find out which of his hillbombs he thought were the gnarliest.

by Brad Christensen
20 January 2017, 1:38am

Photographer: Isaac Matz

This Saturday, and every Saturday at 8.55 PM on VICELAND you can watch KING OF THE ROAD, the show where three teams of the world's best pro-skateboarders travel across the States putting life, limb, and dignity in increasingly-ridiculous peril to be crowned Kings of the Road. Catch it on SKY Channel 13.

King of the Road takes America's most deranged skateboarders around the country while they work together to complete outrageous and bizarre team challenges like finding a cop who can kickflip, pashing a woman over 40 and skating 30-stair handrails.

It's carnage that New Zealander Levi Hawken knows only too well. The 41-year-old hasn't slowed down since copping his first board at age seven. In fact, it's quite the opposite: in recent years Hawken has turned his focus to bombing hills and longboarding. He thrives on feeling in control when in the most uncontrollable situations, like going 100km/hr down mountain roads with his mates.

The downhill scene was a natural progression for Hawken after solidifying his name as a street skateboarding pioneer in New Zealand throughout the '90s. We caught up with the man himself to find out which of his hillbombs he thought were the gnarliest.

Auckland's Liverpool Street, 2008

"Liverpool Street was scary, just because I was on a standard street board with hard wheels. When you're going that fast without a helmet or any gloves or anything, it can be pretty hectic. I don't know how fast I went, but the acceleration was insane. It's an unreal feeling, just like you're on some straight-up Bart Simpson shit, Kawabungaaaa! But the first time I did that there were no cameras or anything, I just hit it on my 7 & ½ inch board [otherwise known as a toothpick] and 50ml wheels, back in like 2000 or something."

Bruce Rd, Auckland, 2014

"That was completely mind-blowing, I'd just come back from a crash which fractured my neck and left me paralysed for a little bit. I went from barely being able to walk and stand on a board, to going on tour with some real gnarly dudes from America and Australia. So, I was really just watching these guys and trying to learn how to do it. 

"Bruce Road was when I really started to figure it out. That road is really unforgiving; a guy broke his femur there a few days ago when he hit the guard rail and another friend of mine broke both his shins when he hit one–it's a long list man. With the right wind, you can get up to like 100km on the end of that road, so it was my first experience of really going that fast. I just have so much respect for that road, I've seen people eat shit there and the hospital isn't close. The ambulance isn't close either."

San Francisco's 14th Street, 2015

"That was my second trip to SF. My first time there I was sort of figuring out my wheels and still learning. My second time over there I had a better idea of what to ride and my homies were down to film. There were other streets that I wanted to hit that were more towards the city, but for that you need a massive crew to be able to stop traffic and spot for you. Having all the cars on the opposite side of the road made the intersections quite scary for me. Plus, with the streets in San Fran, when they get over a certain degree of steepness, they start building them with these concrete slabs, which have massive cracks. You have to scout the road out and figure where the cracks are the smallest and just aim for that. 

"I'd never seen anyone bomb 14th Street and I didn't want to go and bomb a hill that Frank Gerwer or someone else had bombed, you know? I wasn't trying to show anyone up or anything, I just saw 14th and it looked hectic. I had my soft wheels on too, so I went so much faster than I would've with a hard set. It was freaky getting to the bottom, cause I had so much speed. Thankfully I had my gloves and soft wheels so could just throw a big shutdown at the end of it."

Eden Terrace Path, Auckland, 2016

"I started hanging out with these longboarders in like 2009, and they actually lived at the bottom of that street. I was waiting for them outside one day, I just kept looking at it and I didn't really think it was do-able–safely anyway. It was rough and lumpy and covered in moss, and you can't really do a slide and go completely 90 [degrees] because there's not enough space on the path for your wheels. They'll go off the side. There's two powerpoles you have to dodge on your way down as well. That video has three shots of me doing it and the first one was my first time going from the top, so I'm real cautious. Then the second time I'm a little bit less cautious and the third time it's the close-up and I really didn't try to carve, I just threw myself down it."

Bedford Street, Dunedin, 2012

"That was for that 20/20 thing and I'm a little bit embarrassed about that footage, just because I was such a kook. Trying to ride around a massive hairpin corner with like the hardest wheels you can get. The crew couldn't film it, so I had to go and film it with my friend in the middle of winter. There was traffic coming up the hill, water streaming across one section of the hairpin and parts of the road were damp from shadows. It was just my first experience of trying to skate a huge corner and I didn't know anything about soft wheels and downhill skateboarding, so I was just a massive street [skating] kook. I think it was a turning point for me; I was determined to learn how to get around corners. I felt kind of defeated after that, just because I would've liked to have gone a lot faster."

KING OF THE ROAD, 8:55pm every Saturday on SKY TV Channel 13.

King of The Road
Levi Hawken