Jarne Verbruggen Interview

image1 750px

Photos: Clément Le Gall


For a dumb American like myself, Jarne has one hell of a name to pronounce. The way he skates is extremely unique: he's got a keen spot selection and an outrageous approach to classic spots. If he keeps on skating the way he has been, he's easily en route to becoming one of my favorite skaters of current times, and probably yours as well. Given that, Element decided that Jarne was deserving of a professional model board. I hit him up to talk about turning pro, peeing in the living room and what it's like to be God. —Lui Elliott

Jarne, what are you up to?
I’m at the skatepark, just hanging out.

How do you pronounce your first name?
Yar-nuh. You don't pronounce the e. It's more of an uh sound.

How old are you and where are you from?
I’m 24 and I'm from Mechelen, Belgium.

What's the skate scene like out there?
It’s pretty sick. There aren’t too many skaters but the ones we have are fucking sick. We’re all a tight crew. There isn’t much to skate out here but we have this good skatepark so we all hang around there. The kids are really dope. It’s cool to see the new generation. The generation before us as well, they shredded all around Belgium. We have the skatepark now so the kids stay here a bit more, but they still skate street.

You’re super good friends with Phil Zwijsen, right? 

How long have you guys been boys?
We met when I was about 13, so about ten years or so. We used to skate the same skatepark. It was really close to my house and my mom would bring me there all the time. Phil lived really close as well. He was the local hero so I looked up to him. After a while, we started to skate together with Davy Van Laere, a photographer. We were both on Globe at the time so we always skated together. I’m actually on my way to pick him up from the station.

What kind of shit do you guys get into together?
Outside of skating, we just watch stupid videos and have fun. Going out and partying, doing stupid shit. When we’re not skating, we're always trying to figure out where we’re going to go skate. It’s not like we’re going to do regular things like play baseball or something. There’s always stuff happening when you’re around Phil. He’s the kind of guy that can’t stand it when nothing is going on. It’s always, like, “What are we going to do now? What are we doing next?” He sent me a text today telling me that he’s arriving at five and asked what we're going to do. I told him we’re going to go fishing. He told me not to go and that fishing is really bad. He told me to imagine, "What if fishes went peopleing.” He’s all vegan and stuff so he hates fishing and hates that I’m talking about going.

image2 750pxJarne takes a break from fishing to reel in a vegan-approved frontside ollie 

You guys apparently had a weird sleepwalking experience in San Francisco a few years ago. What happened?
Oh yeah, fuck. Fernando Bramsmark can tell that better than me. I can never remember what happens. When I go to sleep really drunk I do weird fucking shit and sleepwalk. People tell me what I did but I can’t remember.


Jarne PQ 1 750px

So, you have a consistent sleepwalking condition.
Yeah, but only when I go to sleep really drunk. It’s really crazy because I always try to go to the bathroom. Sometimes I just pee somewhere where there’s no bathroom. One time I was at a girlfriend's place in Mechelen. I woke up halfway and realized I was peeing in the living room! The crazy thing is that it happened to two of my other friends there the same night.

You guys got triples, peeing in the living room?
We all peed in the same place the same night! It was fucking crazy. She wasn’t happy about that but she’s really cool; she handled it. We love her and she loves us. When it happened to me, I woke up in the middle of the action and thought, "Oh shit! What the fuck am I doing?" I felt so bad, but my other friends did it, too, so—

Congrats on going pro! How long have you been on Element?
I think I got on Element when I was 17, so about seven years now

How did you get on?
It was thanks to Phil. He was riding for them and I was skating with him a bunch. He showed my footage to the Element team manager who was stoked on it. Normally they don’t take two guys from the same country but they did for us. It was pretty sick. I have a lot of thanks to give to Alex Deron. He’s the best guy ever. He put me on the team and did so much for me. I don't think all of the stuff that has happened would’ve happened if I had never gotten on Element.

Are you on the main team?
It’s a European team. I’m on Element Europe. They spread their whole thing through the whole world, not just America. It’s the best sponsor you can get in Europe because they travel a lot. It’s the best riding for them because they do everything. They make videos, help you travel all over the world—no other board sponsors in Europe really let you do that. It makes me happy to be with them.

Jarne PQ 2 750px
How does it feel being pro? Has anything changed?
I don’t really feel pro yet to be honest. They announced it on Instagram, but I feel like I’ll really be pro when my part comes out. I have one coming out that isn’t too crazy or long, but I tried my best. When this video comes out and if people are stoked on it, then I’ll feel pro. Right now, I’m injured so I don’t feel like a real pro yet. I think it changes more for other people than it does for me. It’s really sick they want to put my name on a board, though. I don’t really know what it actually means to me yet. It might change my attitude a little bit. I’m going to be ruder to some people because I can. Just kidding. I’m really thankful for everything.

image3 750pxDon't be too bummed, escalator man, at least Jarne didn't piss on your living-room floor. Backside lipslide revert 

Is it weird that they announced it on Instagram and you didn’t get surprised?
I knew before that I was going to go pro; people already knew. They just had to throw it out there that I was going to be pro. I didn’t really mind. I think it’s cool to have a surprise but it’s all good. I’m stoked. I’m just waiting for that day for it to be real for me. Right now, it’s just half and half.

How long did you film for the going-pro video part?
I filmed for one year. My last trick in the part is actually the first trick I filmed for it. I felt really comfortable the whole time because I knew I had the last trick out of the way. It felt really good; there wasn’t any stress. I had to get some good shit but I didn’t have to do anything too crazy. I had a lot of injuries while I was filming. I hurt my both of my ankles, so I haven’t been skating much this year. Anytime I did skate, I got some good stuff which I was happy about. I’m happy with what I got. It is how it is.

So, you had multiple injuries during the whole filming process. What’s it like trying to get a part done but getting hurt back to back?
It’s not easy. You want to film the whole time. I was going to the physical therapist, trying to get better. It’s really hard because I really don’t like going to there. I don’t feel like I belong there. It feels weird doing all those exercises. It’s going to make me feel better, skate longer and heal faster, though. If I want to skate 'til I’m 50, I have to do all this shit. Luckily, it’s not a major injury that I have. It feels like I can skate but when I try, I can’t. It’s the worst.

Do you have a fear of the doctor?
Yeah, sometimes. I feel like he’s going to tell me some bad news. Something that’s already there but you don’t want him to tell you. Or I feel like I don’t want to tell him everything. I feel like I might go for my ankle and he might tell me I have AIDS or something. Imagine that: my ankle is fine but I found out I have AIDS. The doctor is always scary and I hate the hospital. Every week I get a hospital bill. But the government in Belgium pays a lot of money back from health bills. We pay a lot of taxes, so when we go to the hospital you pay, say, 80 Euros and they give you 50 Euros back. That’s the good thing about getting hurt, I guess.

Who did you film this whole project with?
Nobody in particular. I was just on a bunch of trips and got a bunch of footage together. Niki Waltl edited the whole thing.

Have you seen it? Are you proud of how it came out?
Yeah, I have. I’m pretty stoked on it to be honest. Proud is a hard word to use. I’m stoked on the way Niki edited it. The way he made it was really sick and it's the way I would want to view a video. To see myself in that kind of video makes me happy.


Who came up with the concept at the very end of your part?
I think that was Niki's idea. It came out really nice. I'm very happy about the editing, actually.

Did you choose your first graphic?
I didn't choose it but I'm really happy with how it turned out.

Is there anything you tried that got away from you?
A bunch of stuff, actually. I spent a week in Barcelona and a lot of tricks didn’t work out. I'd never really had that happen before and that feeling was the worst. It made me feel like I couldn’t do anything anymore. One trick not working out is going to demotivate you for the next one. It really sucks. Once you get into that rut, it’s hard to get out. You have to get out of that, go skate and have fun. Then after that you go try again.

What took you the longest to land?
They all took a fucking long time. But I remember that I ripped a muscle in my stomach trying a boardslide nollie out to 50-50. I think that took three hours and it’s not even going to be in the part. I knew at one point that I wasn’t going to use it, but I couldn’t stop doing it. I had been trying it for two hours already so I couldn’t stop. I'd used the muscle in my stomach so much, the next day I didn’t warm up and it ripped.

I noticed in your old part, you sent the craziest gaps to wallride. What makes you think about doing those types of tricks?
I have a good explanation for that. When I first started skating, I did that in my garage. I used to put a plate against a wood-saw machine and would do regular and switch wallrides to fakie. I did it all the time so I like steep banks. So that’s why I like to fly into them.


Jarne PQ 3 750px

When you did the one at the ditch in Long Beach, did you go to that spot to try it or was it a random idea?
I just went there with Youness and everybody; I saw it and started to try it. After I did it, Youness told me he saw a lot of people try it, but no one had done it. The craziest thing is that I was pushing so hard, I broke this thing in my leg. I think it was my groin. It’s easy to break. It’s between your balls and your leg. I broke it by pushing to try that trick. I did it a couple of times because I couldn’t land the fakie flip. It was stupid actually. I came home and I had this huge ball on my leg. I ended up having to get surgery but it was easy. It was the best injury I ever had. It didn’t hurt. I got surgery and it was over.

What’s your favorite clip from the part?
The last trick. I was stressing so much. These guys showed me the spot that Zack Wallin nollied into and told me I could maybe wallride over the rail into the bank. It was really hard for me but I did it. It felt like the best thing I’ve ever done in my life.

image4 750pxWe're not sure that Jarne is actually God, but this drop in is pretty heavenly. Congrats on the pro bump, Mr. V!

If you could do one thing over differently that you’ve done in life, what would it be?
Honestly, I’m so stoked on everything that I've done so I don’t have an answer for that.

What do you strongly believe in?
Myself. I don’t want to make this sound crazy, but I believe in myself because I am God. In a way, you create your own reality. That’s why I say that. You have to believe in yourself because you are the one that’s going to make things happen. If you think a certain way, it’s going to happen that way. That’s what I believe in.

Last words?
Keep shredding, motherfuckers!

  • Rafa Cort's "Dear Gate" Element Part

    Rafa Cort's "Dear Gate" Element Part
    Rafa rips through Spain and a plethora of European dream spots with quick feet and the pedal to the floor. Enjoy the ride.
  • Skater of the Year 2020 Contenders

    Skater of the Year 2020 Contenders
    It's that time of year again. Here are the contenders for SOTY 2020. Finalists announced and voting begins this Friday! 
  • Rough Cut: Jarne Verbruggen's "Professional Life" Part

    Rough Cut: Jarne Verbruggen's "Professional Life" Part
    Jarne narrowly escapes death from cars and concerned citizens while making his sensational part. Appreciate every nail-biting, high-stakes second of this innovative cut. 
  • Jarne Verbruggen's "Professional Life" Part

    Jarne Verbruggen's "Professional Life" Part
    Jarne narrowly escapes death more than once in this 12 minute epic.  A potted plant to the head and a neglectful TM can’t stop the Belgian luminary as he charges through with some his finest footage to date.  There's a sublime beauty flowing through those crusty European streets.
  • The Follow Up: Jarne Verbruggen

    The Follow Up: Jarne Verbruggen
    After a marathon part blending skateboarding and comedy sketches, Jarne discusses how he put it all together, including how he survived a planter to the head, losing his car in a bet and his new life in the south of France. Dive deeper with even more photos and fables from his wonderful Professional Life.