Introduction by Dave Bloom
Interview by Dave Bloom & Oliver Nermerich
Photography by Jacques Ginet, Jean-Charles Caslot (M6 mobile by Orange) & Benjamin Brillante
Read the first part of the interview here.
What kind of skater do you view yourself as in a situation like this? Aggressive skater, freestyle roller? Does it even matter?
Aggressive skater, and no, it doesn’t matter. It’s who I am.
What support have you seen from the rollerblading world, both with this event and the Eiffel Tower event?
I received great support from all of my pro friends; Sven, Nel, Lamine, etc., friends that borrow me ramps, etc. They all came for free to skate there to make demos since they knew I had put all the money I had to make my jump. But, besides that I really don’t have much time to read rollerblading forums. And, unfortunately the rollerblade industry cannot really help me. The projects became too big and went beyond the industry of action sports. When it gets to be that size it is hard to control it and make it work within a small industry. We really stretched things with this.
Were there some old rolling friends on site to support you? Who was there watching and cheering you on?
Yes there were some, and it was so cool. There were Jerry Bekker, Rafael Sandoz, etc.
Why did you choose a Superman Front Flip?
I was practicing two jumps: the double back flip and the superman front flip. I chose the superman front because the symbol of the Sacré-Cœur jump was flying above Paris and I had dreamed of having photos of me flying like that above Paris. At the training I was landing them perfectly. I made about seven hundred of them during the two months prior. But, because of the drop of twelve meters at the event, everything changed. It’s totally different to make a front flip or double back landing at the same height compared to landing at twelve meters lower than the takeoff. Add in the slippery resi I was landing on so hard at one hundred kilometers an hour into the airbag that I could not move my neck. It took me one month to be able to move my neck properly after the jump.
Did you land that one properly to qualify for a world record? Or, did they award you with world record for the straight jump only?
No, they did award only for the straight jump.
Was the City of Paris bit more cooperative this time? How open-minded is the city towards these (risky and dangerous) events/stunts?
No, it was almost impossible to get the authorization again. Every time we try something it becomes a new war. It always means we have to adapt like crazy. It’s never the same people because of different areas within Paris.
You enter a crazy politic war and security is very important for the people in charge. You are really lucky to have such great support in doing this. How did it all come about? What stages bring you from just an idea all the way up to the actual event? Was this something you came up with or is there a team that puts together the entire plan from the original idea to training and working the trick itself out?
It’s a long story. I was fed up with competing. I wanted to do something different and build things for big crowds. My television producer asked me one night, “Why don’t you set a huge record like that?” I took his advice and started to work nonstop. People really don’t know what I had to do to make it. I had two partners that helped me out a lot. But, I still had to create and build everything myself. I had to learn many new programs on the computer and had to make a crazy presentation of around one hundred pages long. I basically worked nonstop, day and night, for two years, to build the team, fund the budget, make so many different presentations, and most of all making more than one hundred and fifty meetings with politicians and sponsors. And, it’s hard because if something you work for two years is cancelled in the end you lose two years of your life and a lot of money. Both Eiffel Tower and Sacré-Cœur were my idea.
What support and reaction have you received from people who outside of this event have no understanding of rollerblading and the culture it hosts? What were some responses you received from spectators?
The response from 99 % of them has been amazing. It really is incredible because you are no longer just talking about rollerblading or action sports. You are talking about dreams, about achieving the impossible. I realize people will always remember that one day a guy jumped off the Eiffel Tower. And, it’s so cool because there is no age limit to the event. Everyone knows of it. Even people that are more than seventy years old are familiar with it. It’s absolutely unreal.
What level of media coverage was there for the Sacré-Cœur event? Was it more or less than the Eiffel Tower stunt? What reaction did the media bring? Positive, negative, or just a typical brief spotlight?
No, the media was also something totally unique and incredible. We reached 167 countries. 100.000 people came to see the jump making it the best television audience in the history of that channel. Everything was like in a dream. These world records are undeniably epic on their scale.
What impact do you see this having on both the culture and actual technique and limits of skating as well as how the rest of the world views skating as a sport and culture?
I would say those records give just a little light to rollerblading. But, it’s the job of all the skaters to continue building the good image in the skate parks and on the streets. After all, it’s their job to show the culture of it, to show the world what it’s all about.
You have done a lot of crazy stuff in your life so far. Can you give us a short recap of your craziest stunts?
Well, my craziest stunts, beside the Eiffel Tower and Sacré-Cœur, were mainly done on the ramp: first Double Back in a contest, Double Back 540° (but I broke my wrist), first ever Double Flat Spin, first ever Flat Spin 900°, first 900°, Double Back Method between 2 ramps with a gap of three meters, flying Invert at two meters high, fakie switch 900° Stale Fish, and Ghetto Spin 720°.
What does your girlfriend think about all this? She must be a nervous wreck. What does she say to you when you approach with these ideas for the first time?
Yes, my girlfriend and parents are very stressed about this all. I think when I will stop doing records and only skate for fun like that they will all be very happy. Also, because I have really crazy ideas and will probably take much bigger risks in the future they aren’t likely to be less stressed anytime soon.
What kind of skates did you use for the event? How many wheels, axles, and other parts have you gone through in the various training and practice sessions?
I have pretty typical skates: always my Rollerblades. Even when I was no longer sponsored by Rollerblade I still skated on them. It just took a longer frame to be more stable. And my Cozmo René Hulgreen wheels. I’m glad I kept some.
Looking back is there anything you would have done to improve your setup for the jump?
Yes, of course. Many things, probably. I would have brought an airbag that would stop me without hurting me at the Eiffel Tower and a non-sliding landing for the Sacré-Cœur.
Overall, are you pleased with the end result of everything, both personally and how your peers and the world around viewed it?
I am pleased for achieving my dreams. To have worked day and night putting all my passion, my money, taking crazy risks and at least it worked and I did it. Of course it was not perfect, but it’s rare to make it perfect the first or second time. The great thing is that I have opened doors for the future. I have so many new records coming up (which I will take care of to land good this time) and I have a movie next year, many television shows, and more. It’s crazy that the sport I started doing with one friend under a highway took me so far. That’s why it’s important to follow your dreams and your passions. I am skating now for thirty years. And probably it’s just the beginning.
Lets talk about the sport itself. All-in-all, what do you think about skating today, where it has come and where it may be headed?
I am little sad to see where skating went. I remember when rollerblading was the number one sport in action sports. But, our industry was not ready to carry it. It’s sad because the level of talent is certainly there. The Yasutoko brothers are killing it so much. They really bring so much respect to the sport. And, of course all the street skaters are also going huge. I just wish we could see them at the X-Games on the mega ramp showing everybody that inline can fly higher. But, I am sure given time we will get back there. It is definitely quite different from how it was early on, very much so in every aspect. While some the original nature exists, the style, both in skating and attire, has changed and evolved so much.
Do you think anything is missing or lacking from the sport?
The level, the culture, the style of rollerblading… It’s all there. The only thing missing is older people to manage it. The people who are experts in building events or television shows.
What do you think about tours? Have you thought about organizing some sort of rolling promotion tour?
I was thinking of building a tour as well, but more for the big crowds. But, I love to see tours happening because it’s only the passion of skating and touring. No baggage. It is purely fun-based. Rollerblading is my life; so many memories with so many friends.
What do you think about the path that the X-Games has taken? Any chance that you see skating making its way back into the event in the future? In your eyes, would this be a good thing or a bad thing?
I think it would be a very good thing. It will give so much promotion and help the entire industry restart. I think it will come back in the future, but we need leaders, we need American people that have the level and the charisma to step up on television, and all of that being managed by an expert in marketing and communication. That’s the way to re-enter the X-Games.
Are you still skating half-pipe on a regular basis? Why haven’t we seen you in half-pipe competitions anymore? Did you feel it was time to step aside and give the younger generation an opportunity to step it up?
Unfortunately, I really don’t have as many chances to skate full-time lately. I only do a few shows a year, but in between I do almost nothing on a ramp. I still skate around Paris for fun with my girlfriend and some friends. But, with all the projects going on, free time is almost non-existant at the moment. As far as competition goes I am over it. I had reached my dreams in that area and decided to step down. I felt it was a good time to vacate my place for the new generation to take over.
Alright, here is what everyone really wants to know. After all that has been done so far, what’s next? Is there a line, a limit, and challenge that you won’t accept?
I have worked on a bunch of records over the past three to five years something in the range of around two a year. That may not seem like a lot, but believe me when I say that the work going into it makes it that much more difficult beyond just doing a trick one time. Now that I have reached a little of this dream I really want to bring it to a different level. I will not say what record attempt I am working on at the moment, because I never know if I will manage to get the authorization, but I fight everyday for it. In my mind I have one that is totally insane going beyond just rollerblading or action sports all together. It will still involve my skates and a ramp, but it’s going to be on a totally different level. Let’s just cross fingers for all those dreams to achieve, for myself and for everyone that has their own goals that they work towards to make a reality. Thank you, all.