Exclusive Interview with Quebec Skateboarders
Jessy and JS are seasoned skaters and close friends who skate regularly together, practise vegan lifestyles and yoga, and who freely share their philosophical and spiritual findings on social media (some very interesting Instagram stories!)
Jessy and JS had both finished competing in the prestigious amateur Am Getting Paid 2017 contest in Montreal the day before I met them. JS Lapierre had won second place.
Jessy was preparing to fly from Montreal to Las Vegas, for his annual six month winter skate-season.
(Interview conducted in French, and translated to English for the global social media community.)
1. What motivated you to start skating?
Jessy: When I was a kid I used to watch Ninja Turtles and The Simpsons. The Turtles and Bart Simpson both had skateboards. Those were my first introductions to skateboarding. My uncle used to skate, and I begged him to give me his skateboard, and when he did, that’s when it started.
JS: When I was young my best friend had a ramp that his parents built him in his backyard. I used to borrow his brother’s skateboard to skate the ramp. As soon as I started skating I loved it! I couldn’t go a day without skateboarding. It’s been pretty much my life since then.
2. What motivates you to keep skating?
Jessy: The experiences, the people you meet. The fact that it brings us back to the present moment. The lifestyle is what motivates me to keep skating. The adrenaline rushes also, I like going fast! (laughs)
JS: I was going to say the same thing. I also enjoy the fact that skating allows you to travel. Your life is never routine. Even if you skate in the same city everyday, there’s always something new that’s going to happen. You really go out of your comfort zone when you skate, and you can never predict what’s going to happen next. Skateboarding is different in that way, and that’s what motivates me to carry on.
3. Worst injury outside of skateboarding?
Jessy: When I was younger, my friend and I were throwing a basketball and hitting it with an aluminium baseball bat to make it go as far as possible in my backyard. My friend did it before me, and the ball flew relatively far. I wanted the ball to go further than he did, so I hit it with the baseball bat so hard that the bat bounced back and hit me in the face, right above my eye. I fell to the ground and went directly to the hospital. The doctors told me that I could’ve died if I’d hit my temple, which was 1 cm away from the place I’d hit with the bat. And if I’d hit my eye, I would’ve been blinded. JS: When I was a baby, I burnt my hand pretty bad. I saw my family sitting around a fire and warming their hands around it. I was too young to understand that fire could burn. I put my hand in the fire and burnt myself.
4. One thing you did on your bucket list, and one thing you haven’t done yet.
JS: One thing I wanted to do on my bucket list was do a parachute jump. I did it with my mum. That was super cool and really scary! --- One thing I didn’t do yet is go to Central America.
Jessy: One thing on my bucket list that I haven’t done yet is conquer my fear of heights, I don’t like being on high things, especially if they are unstable. And also to stop being claustrophobic. ---One thing I’ve done on my bucket list is having my picture in a skate magazine for the first time. It was in Expose Magazine. My picture was doing a backside heelflip in Miami. The funny part is I landed it, and then about 7 metres after rolling away, I fell. (laughs)
5. If you had never skated, what would you have done with your life?
JS: I consider myself extremely lucky to have started skating because I come from a very small village of 400 residents, between Montreal and Sherbrooke. There are only farms there. Skateboarding has bought me so many life experiences. It changed the person I am so much that it’s almost impossible to imagine what I would have done without it. Skateboarding has helped me to figure out what I enjoy in life, such as nutrition and healthy lifestyle habits. I don’t know if I would’ve been the same if I didn’t skate and I had carried on living in Notre-Dame de Stanbridge.
Jessy: Before I started skating I wanted to be a kung-fu master, have my own school, and go in temples, just like in the movies. I had that idea in my mind of being free-spirited and travelling. I had no idea I was going to start skateboarding at that time.
6. Who is your biggest inspiration?
Jessy: My mom. She let me grow up quite independently compared to most kids. Of course there were restrictions about certain things, but she never limited me. Growing up, I was one of the only kids who was allowed to go play outside until 8 or 9 o’clock in the evening after I’d had finished my homework. She taught me a lot about life.
JS: A lot of people inspire me, I couldn’t name just one. One person that comes to mind is Andrew Reynolds. I think he redefines skateboarding in a way where you don’t need to be trash, or be out partying all the time, like most skaters are. Andrew makes sure that his skating is at the best level possible, that he eats well, and doesn’t party. People like him really inspire me because it helps me to see what aspects about myself I can improve.
7. Two schools in Quebec and Sherbrooke are integrating skate-studies into their sport-studies programs. Would this have helped you when you were in school? Do you see any negative sides to skate-studies?
Jessy: If it was in school, maybe I would’ve never started skating. I think it would’ve depended on the people who were around me. If they were doing other sports maybe I would’ve never started skateboarding. But yes, if skate-studies was offered to me when I was in school I think it would’ve helped me. I don’t see any negative sides to skate-studies, I think it’s great. Some kids don’t know their potential until they try, it can help some of them to see that skateboarding is fun and helps develop a new talent.
JS: I think skate-studies would have helped me enormously. I’m a person who likes to be free, and school limited me in that way. I hated that period of my life. I see the kids in Sherbrooke who do skate-studies in the morning before classes, and I think it’s amazing. I believe that if you can do physical activity before sitting down in class and studying, it can make it much easier to learn and get through school. It also helps to improve your skating. I would’ve loved skate-studies to exist when I was younger.
8. What do you think about skateboarding as an Olympic sport?
JS: I think it would be a good thing. If by being in the Olympics, skateboarding could be more accessible to a larger community, that would be great. If more people can discover skateboarding and all the amazing things it has to offer, it can only be positive. Of course, some skaters believe that skateboarding should stay more ‘core’ and not become mainstream, but at the same time it’s the evolution of the sport.
Jessy: I agree. I will add that if skateboarding is in the Olympics, parents will probably be more open about their kids taking up the sport. They will see that there is a possibility to go somewhere with the sport.
9. You both do yoga. Does it improve your skating?
JS: It doesn’t help drastically, but it sure helps a little. I’ve a few minor injuries that I’m trying to help and I think incorporating yoga into my routine will help. I also have exercises I do before and after skating that help me a lot. Nutrition also plays a large role. I started reading books about triathlon; what you should consume before, during and after a workout. I started eating the foods they recommend. It really helps to be less tired after an intense session. Jessy: Yoga is good to prevent injuries. If you practice it often your body will be more supple, preventing more injuries.
10. How long have you been friends?
Jessy: Quite a long time. The first time I met him was when he first got on Deathwish, I actually wasn’t on it yet. That was at least 10 years ago. After that we were with the same companies so we went on trips together. We became closer in the past couple of years.
JS: We lived together about 9 months ago. That really brought us closer together. We have the same interests in life. We both don’t drink, and we’re both vegans, we also do yoga. We go up the Mont-Royal and skate back down every morning. That’s a good workout (laughs).