He’s no stranger to the skateboarding world and with a mass of achievements under his belt, we catch up with Cape Town’s Jean-marc Johannes to chat about skate life, the year ahead and more.
Full name: Jean-marc Johannes
Hometown: Cape Town
Years skating: 11
Deck setup: Almost skateboards 8.0 , Tensor Trucks Mag light 5.5, Andale bearings swiss and Connexion wheels 52MM.
Sponsors: Globe, Almost skateboards, Tensor Trucks, Connexion wheels, Andale bearings, Biogen, VonZipper, Nixon, GoPro, Outdoor Tech, vida e caffe , Revolution, Rockstar Energy Drink and The Shred Skatepark.
Welcome back to LW Mag. How has your 2016 kicked off?
Hey guys! Thanks for having me back up here, 2016 has been great so far. I recently got an invite to my second world cup skateboarding event, Far n High, in Paris this year. I’m also looking forward to another FISE World Series following my results from last year. I’ve been given a slot on Good Hope FM/ DJ Ready D’s show at the end of each month as well, so I am very stoked and looking forward to the rest of 2016.
What’s changed in your skateboarding career since we last featured you?
My career goals for starters and next would be my sponsors. My dream hasn’t changed a bit though, going Pro is my all time highest goal as is every skateboarder, but I wanted to focus on certain events in my career rather than running every race I could possibly get in and exhausting not just myself but every avenue and resource to make it happen. So I went back to the drawing board and made few changes. It was more beneficial to focus on a few large goals like getting to compete and then qualifying in a big contest series like FISE and filming a short video for Tony Hawks RIDE channel in last year, which is the biggest online skateboarding platform in the world. My vision is clearer in terms of where I’m going and what I want in my career but it won’t be very easy of course. As of 2015, I was made aware that my Ollie from container to container that took place in 2013 was now up on a permanent display in the national museum of sport in France. This is a very big step for me and for South Africa. I have also been able to give back in my career and I am so grateful I am able to do so with my charity initiative, Fill The Gap. My initiative will also be taking a different direction this year by going back to its roots and where it all began from skateboarding, so look out for Fill The Box.
At the moment, what are your favourite spots to skate?
In Cape Town, The Shred Skatepark is definitely where it’s at. It’s perfect, it has every obstacle you could possibly ask for and it’s the best vibe ever. Jamie O’Brien and Mike created a masterpiece.
What plans and goals do you have in place for this year regarding tours, contests, etc?
Firstly Far n High WCS, then FISE series in China and finally Tampa AM 2016. It would be a dream to compete in Street League Open and BATB. My ultimate goal is to get back to LA as soon as I can.
You have a stack of tricks that you’ve come up with on your own. What’s the latest?
The latest trick I’ve got I never exactly came up with but it’s new for me. I’ve been trying the Indy Backflip and I’ve got a bit of sketchy one, but the first in contest I landed was in my first heat at Ultimate X 2016.
How much work goes into each trick and where do the ideas and inspiration come from?
The crazy thing about skateboarding is there’s no timer on when you’re going to land. I would think of a combo I want to get and I would try every possibly way to do it, try after try. One of them will be just right where your foot position is perfect, your pop and flick were dead set on timing and your reaction to land was perfect to the last inch. It’s either going to happen in the first 5 tries or the next 500. The real trick to it is to enjoy the struggle and never give up.
Explain the feeling of landing a new trick?
It’s an accomplishment like no other, it’s making something a reality that no one can see but you.
I think it’s the fact that you have to do everything yourself with no right or wrong way or to seek approval when you make it happen. Once you land, then that was all you. The reward of putting an idea into action and succeeding at it is something we live for.
What are your top 5 tricks that you have on lock?
Recently it’s been, Hardflips, FS flips, Flip BS Noseblunts, Hardflip BS Lips and Big Flip FS Boardslides.
What would your perfect run during a contest consist of?
A little bit of everything I rate. Solid grinds and slides, Nollies and standard variations of them, a few flip tricks that have a lot of style to them, transition tricks, and one or two bangers.
Which skaters are going to be your main competition this year and what will it take to beat them?
I think 2016, just like every year, is going to be interesting. We can never really tell who is going to be on a roll early into the contest season as everyone seems to be really on point and focused, but at the end of it all we’re all going out there to shred, give it everything and do what we do.
Which local skaters do you look up to?
The skaters I look up to locally are Khule Ngubane, Christi Weihann and Dlamini Dlamini. They are really humble individuals and masters at their craft.
What does the sport of skateboarding mean to you and where do you see it taking you?
Skateboarding means more to me than I previously realised and this impacted to every other part of my life. Last year it was very much entirely up to skateboarding to basically keep me going. I had no other choice but to make it everything I have because it was close to the last thing I had left. It was scary but it was more motivating than I could have ever imagined. It took me from where I live in Athlone to being a part of the world of skateboarding just by having an idea and believing in myself, to giving me a voice and telling a story that I am still busy living. It took me from the ground up more than once and it will take me further than I can even think of because it’s my passion and what I live for.
How would you best explain your style of skating?
Very street orientated, although I enjoy airs and transition. I always look at every aspect of skateboarding from a street perspective because it’s how I started.
What are your views on the local skate scene at the moment?
It’s on an international level in my opinion and we can thank the internet for that, giving every country and small town a platform to be seen. It’s amazing to know that the rest of the world sees the latent South Africa/ Cape Town has.
You have quite the list of sponsors. What do they do for you and what do you do for them?
My skate sponsors like Almost, Globe, Tensor, Connexion Wheels and Revolution have been supporting me for years and the reason I can keep focusing on progression and filming. I am also supported by World of heroes, VonZipper, Nixon and Outdoor Technology for electronics, watches, eyewear and action cameras. Biogen have taken me on as their first skateboarder, official brand ambassador and nutritional partner helping me be my best from a fitness perspective. I have always focused on my own health and fitness as an individual and I am very grateful to be supported be the leading brand in its field. Rockstar Energy recently started supporting me with the energy to keep going!
Photos by Grant Mclachlan