The Follow Up: Jarne Verbruggen
Like many in the US, I first got really hooked on Jarne’s skating after watching his Never Skatebored part. Not only was it filled with sick-looking European spots and a fresh approach, but it was also six minutes long with an absurd dose of heavy moves on hubbas and hills. It’s safe to say most of us were picking up what he was putting down for the next few years, whether it was his shared project with Phil Zwijsen, his strong showing on the Scramble or his pro part for Element. As with other prodigious talents, after a busy prolific period his output started to trickle as he battled against injuries and the bottle. But lucky for his fans around the globe, he turned it around and got back on the board for a straight tear. And despite almost dying at the hands of a rogue apartment resident, the Belgian bank wizard has pulled through with another extra-full-length conceptual part that puts his keen eye for quick hits and steep spots to good use. I caught up with him while he was back home in Belgium to get the scoop on skating, moving to France and of course, the near-death experience. Enjoy. —Ted Schmitz
Jarne survived with just a few major scrapes along the way Photo: Guillaume Perimony
Jarne, how are you doing, man?
I'm fine, man, thanks. I'm in Belgium right now.
Nice. How is it back home?
Honestly, it's kind of like a bummer because I live in France right now. I'm here waiting for my passport because I lost it. It's kind of shitty in Belgium, I don't really like it. But for the rest of it I'm fine.
That is a bummer. You couldn’t just go to the embassy?
I tried in France but it didn't work, so I'm doing it in Belgium. It's taking awhile because I've lost it so many times. Now they have to do it in a way that they can prove I'm not selling my ID. I even had to fill out a form to say how I lost it.
But if you knew how you lost it you wouldn't be there, right?
Before we go any further, I need to know about getting hit in the head with the potted plant. I’m looking at a picture of you with your face kind of fucked up. Is that from the same incident?
Exactly, yeah! That's from a guy who threw a potted plant at me. He was attacking us with those plants. He threw one of them at Guillaume first and then he threw another one and it really hit me. It's pretty crazy. He could've killed me. He almost did—he knocked me out. I was trying to do the hippie jump into a double bank, kind of like a roller coaster. It's already scary enough to do the hippie jump and not hit the wall. And then all of a sudden there is an old crazy guy throwing down heavy potted plants. And we're just like, What the fuck is happening? I also thought, He’s never going to hit me. I thought I was going too fast, but he hit me straight in my neck and in the back. I flew straight into the wall with my head. Like, I fucking dove into it—on the corner. Then I fell down the bank unconscious.
All it takes is one lousy neighbor with good aim to make a dangerous spot deadly
Fuck, that's awful. You were out for a sec?
I was pretty fucked up, but I don't know. I stood up and thought, I'm still going to go for it. It's pretty weird that it came up in my head for me to go for it again. That was pretty fucking crazy and Guillaume filmed everything really good. I don't know how he did it. I was really scared for him. He could've gotten hit anytime but he didn't care and he just filmed it all. I like how it worked out even though I almost died.
That takes some serious guts. What happened after he hit you?
Well, then the cops came because he was throwing plants. The neighbors called the cops for that because they knew he was kind of crazy. After the cops showed up, they went inside to talk to the guy. I figured it was over so I had a few more tries. I tried it three or four times after and then I did it. The cops finished inside and then they came for us. It was the perfect, terrifying moment.
So your head got fucked up from the wall, not the pot?
I actually realized that after we checked the footage. I didn't even know that I hit the wall. It was a crazy moment but I thought that it was just the plant. It actually fucked up my vision.
And you still had four more tries after what clearly sounds and looks like a concussion?
Like I said, it was a pretty crazy moment. The cops asked me if I wanted to do anything about it, like if I wanted to sue him. But I couldn't be bothered to go to the police station for two hours after that shit, so I didn't really do anything. And then I was kind of bummed when I saw the footage. I thought, Wow, he really could've killed me. But then Guillaume said, "He's already punished enough by his own life so there's nothing you can do about it." And I said, "Yeah, you're right."
That's a good point if somebody is already at that point in their life. What, you’ll get him to spend a couple thousand bucks or get him in jail for a bit? What's that going to do?
Yeah, I did the trick—fuck it. If I didn't, maybe I would've sued him. I’m just kidding. I’m not really glad it happened but I’m glad we got the footage.
Maybe he lost his passport frontside hurrcaning through the jungle?
With that out of the way, who are you skating with when you’re back in France?
Phil Zwijsen lives there. He’s my good friend and we skate a lot. Lucas Puig lives there too, actually. He's a really cool guy. I got to know him from living there as well. Also just a bunch of friends. We have a good crew there. There's not that much to skate, but the ocean is pretty sick. It's better than fucking Belgium.
Lucas is a heavy local to have out there. Does that mean you’re skating with other Hélas dudes?
Actually, there aren't that many Hélas dudes out there. I think they're more based in Paris. I think it's maybe just Lucas where I am.
And what city is that?
Biarritz. It's in the southwest of France. It's pretty sick. I'm stoked because I never knew where to live and now I finally found a place where I'm pretty comfortable.
That’s all you can ask for. Did you go out there with Phil? You and he have been pretty intertwined for a while now.
Yeah, we keep bumping into each other. I can't get rid of him. It's been a long good run. But yeah, I went because Phil had to move there. I went on a holiday and then I just stayed.
Navigating the ups and downs of life and this spot, Jarne ollies a crusty channel
And when you were in Belgium, you just had the feeling like you wanted to get out?
Exactly. Everybody here does, but not a lot of people actually make the move. Winter is horrible. It has good sides too. I can see a lot of my friends here and that's cool but I'm kind of over it. I've been here too long.
I understand that. I went to high school in Las Vegas. It kinda sucked and almost everybody I knew moved away as soon as they could. Let's do a brief summary of where you're at. You had a short period where skating slowed down a little and I think you cleared that up. Since then, it seems like you’ve been firing off. So, are you still going with the sobriety?
I've had some ups and downs but I'm way better and I'm taking care of that. Also, moving to France made a big difference. That changed my whole life, actually, just changing my environment. It made it way easier and I'm really stoked for that. I've got good people around me, too.
Man, that's awesome to hear. It looks like you turned a corner skate-wise. This part seems like you put a lot of thought into it. Was relocating a key part in taking on a big new project?
Yeah, pretty much. I was going for this video part for a while and I also had the other ideas for it in my head as well. I think that's pretty fun that it's not just all skating—it has a lot of sketches in it. It's just an idea I've had for a year and a half. I really wanted to do it well and that's why I was going for it.
That’s rad. You also have to really trust the person you’re making the video with if you’re going to pull something like this off.
Yeah, I made it with Guillaume. He filmed the Double Impact part with me and Phil. He was in charge of the filming and editing while I was kind of doing my thing knowing he would tie it all together.
Blind guards be damned! Jarne's gotta get a kickflip Photo: Guillaume Perimony
Oh yeah, he always pulls through with something incredible. Let's get into that sketchy boardslide on the kinked rail.
Okay, that's where I live, actually. That's in Biarritz. That was not easy. That was really hard and it took a lot of stupid slams.
I'd be so scared to sack with my foot in the middle, kinda like the Pat Burke way.
I don't think that I was thinking about that while I was trying it.
Sometimes I’m a bad dude to have on the session.
Luckily, I just did it. They had just built it and I was actually about to go on a trip. I was like, I guess I'll just try it before the trip, but I was really scared. It was one of the biggest rails that I've ever skated. Good thing I got it because the day after that, they put in those little blind guards. Yeah, I got really lucky that I got to skate it.
Not thinking about the sack, Jarne gets the green light for a wide, kinky boardslidehere Photo: Vincent Coupeau
Your skating has always been so curious to me and that's a perfect example—a hippie jump into a double bank. It's the kind of skating that's more about how the trick works with the spot and the combination of things. The clips you film, to me, seem to be more about how many things you can throw in or how you can find a different angle at the spot. Where do you think that impulse comes from?
Well, my skating comes from not having any spots to skate in my hometown. Just making the best out of it, I guess. I like to do big rails but I'm just not that good at it. But I don't think that skateboarding needs to be about that either. I don't always like to go to the same spots as other people as well. Maybe I'm not that good there, so I don't know if I can do something that's better than everybody else. So I like to find my own shit. I'm not out there perfecting my tricks.
Yeah, you're not training for consistency.
Yeah, I'm not really good contests. Like if you asked me how to do something, I don't know how to tell you. Skating feels different every day for me. One day I can have a trick good and the next day I don't. I just like to try new tricks and see if they work. And I like to find out if I'd be able to do it. The end of the part should be crazy so then I try a lot of crazy shit. And there was a lot of stuff I didn't land. But I'm actually hurt now so when I can skate again I'm going to get more into the crazy, weird spots.
So you've been hurt for a little while now, are you down to tell me what happened? Was it from from this part?
Yeah, I was trying this trick in Paris. I first hit Guillaume in the shins three times really hard ‘cause he was kind of standing where I would land. It was already kind of fucked. It was a drop in to a slappy grind. It wasn't really that crazy, but maybe I was too confident. Maybe I didn't think it through. I hung up on my foot on a cobblestone then sat on it. I broke three bones in my foot. It's probably not nice to read, but that's what happened. It was really shitty but I'm finally getting better. I wasn't sure if I was getting surgery or not because I didn't believe the doctors when they said they didn't want to give me surgery. But now I'm going good doing physio—I'm walking again.
Product of another lost bet, the bleach hits the street while Maité brightens up the background Photo: Guillaume Perimony
What do you think the hardest thing in the part was, other than maybe breaking your foot?
I know which one—I do a little half Cab up a step up and then backside 360 down—I wanna say an 11 but it's probably like eight stairs.
No, 15. We’ll say it’s 15.
It felt like a15! I didn’t count them. I never do back threes down stairs so it was really hard for me. I was in Croatia. If I’m battling a trick, I do these bets with Guillaume. I was like, "Yo, if I don't do it here, I owe you 50 bucks," and then by the end of the session it was my car and my full CD collection. So yeah, the first time I lost my car to Guillaume and I broke my board. There were no skateshops around so we had to drive to a dude's house who makes boards so we could pick up a new deck. We went back the next day while Guillaume was saying, “I still own your car.” For like 24 hours there he owned my car. Then I did it and I got my car back.
Was he bummed you landed it?
Yeah, he was bummed he lost the car, but I was so stoked.
Yeah, my friends and I always do wagers like that but sometimes it gets dark. I'll be like, "I gotta do it right here or else everyone I love dies," and then I blow it.
Yeah, you brought the virus.
Good thing it’s usually for an ice tea. Did you say you have a CD collection in your car?
Well, it was like five CDs.
That's still a collection.
What CDs are sitting in your car?
I don't have a car anymore is so there are no more CDs.
Damn, sorry for the loss. Who got the CDs?
Nobody, they were still in there when my car got squashed into a little box as big as a night closet.
You'll never hear the sweet MP3 tracks ever again. You said you went to a guy's house who makes skateboards. Was he a carpenter?
No, he had a small board brand.
Avoiding the broken board and busted sack, Jarne takes the tail to rail approach Photo: Guillaume Perimony
Oh shit, I was imagining a guy fashioning it out of plywood.
Yeah, like some guy deep in the woods with a saw. No, it was cool. I got to meet a couple of the guys, Raul and Elvis, in Croatia and they showed me around. They brought us to Nino Jurlina who runs a brand out there called Simple. He helped me out since there were no skateshops to be found.
Well, let's start to close it out. You blew up super fast with your Element part. And despite having a name that's hard to pronounce for a lot of Americans, you were able to gain some traction with skaters here. Madars did a similar thing as well.
Oh, thanks, man. I really love Madars. I think luckily Europeean skating kind of blew up as well and people were just paying more attention.
Yeah, so many of my new favorite skaters are out of Europe. Since then, you've had a little bit of an ebb and flow. How do you see your career overview and where you see it going now? What do you hope to get done?
I hope to find a good board sponsor! But yeah, you're right. I had a big boost when I had that part and that was pretty crazy. I was really, really stoked with the people liking it. I guess I really didn't expect to get that much recognition. I went to Tampa and it was pretty crazy when some people knew me. I think that first part was much bigger because I saved it for four years. But I've made parts since then and always been stacking.
It's kind of like making an album where you have all the time in the world to make your debut but then everybody's waiting for the second one. Then there's the pressure for it to be as well put together. When your foot gets better, are you going to be 100 percent back on it?
Of course, I just want to keep making videos with Guillaume. I want to go skate with Phil and make more Jackie videos. I just want to get on the road and skate as much as I can and have a lot of fun. I think the last couple months of filming I was getting too serious about what to film, but after a little break, I'm really stoked to get back skating because it's been getting a little bit long now.
Well, we’re all excited to see what’s next.
Thanks a lot, man. Ciao.
Half Cab to back three down 15 stairs. Don't bother counting. Congrats on the killer part, Jarne. Glad you didn't actually die!
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