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On 30 January 2020 at 15:12 | updated on 01 May 2020 at 08:34

Interview with "Jean Jean" Chanet, half-pipe skater (Belgium)

Interview with

We recently highlighted a few pipe champions such as Nicolas Mougin, Otto Bolanos, Eito and Takeshi Yasutoko. Let us continue our series of still active halfpipe legends with "Jean Jean" Chanet!

By  Alexandre CHARTIER

The golden age of skating at the X-Games

Skating was an important part of the media scene in the 90s and the big brands invested less sparingly in this medium than today. The big competitions were broadcast live on television. Some skaters benefited from brand sponsorship.
The Belgian Jean Chanet, allia's "Jean Jean", was one of the emblematic figures of the time and won medals in many competitions at the X-Games, the ASA or the NISS.

Jean Jean was one of the athletes sponsored by Roces, just like Tom Fry or René Hulgreen. He even owned his own professional model in grinding at Fifty-50, his wheel was made by the Australian brand Cozmo.

He hasn't hung up his skates yet and continues to live his passion even though he has ended his career as a professional athlete.

Hello, Jean-Jean. When did you first put on skates?

Jean Chanet in a half-pipe in 1997I started skating in 1986 with adjustable metal shoes. They were attached to the shoe with small leather straps. They had brittle plastic wheels that looked like bearings. Then one day we went with a school friend to a roller skating hall called "Disco Rollerskate" in Wavre, the capital of Wallonia.
There I discovered "real" roller skates, where the shoe is attached to the base, with axles and really fast bearings. For a long time I rented these roller skates because of their incomparable characteristics compared to mine. 2 years later I bought a more or less similar pair. I had the idea in my head to improve them.

I completely rebuilt these skates and created MY first pair of "Quads"! Little by little these skates were improved with slightly wider skate axles, then with hard wheels and a good pair of "shoes". The transformation was not immediate, as these products were not available everywhere.

In the first years, I practiced mainly in the apartment. I did speed racing, I was looking for good skating possibilities. I learned the basics. Then I started quite fast with "jumps". Soon a mini-ramp and later also a halfpipe were built in this roller skating rink.

The roller skates were in constant development. We developed our first glide rails between our axles. Our tricks were completely copied from skateboarding, everything had to be created and invented. We had no templates or models, we were free and creative.

Little by little a small group was formed, consisting of:

Issame Tomba, Gauthier Piret, Michael Perpette, Pascal Pire, Yvan Suarez, Christophe Melahrinidis, Michael Rimé, Benoit Hautin, Alain Ghyssens, François Pierre, Benjamin Speyer, etc. The meetings took up more and more space in our weeks.

We were all looking for mini ramps, halfpipes in Charleroi Lodelainsart, Brugge, Louvain La Neuve, Wavre, Leffinge. We were all motivated to get the desired dose of adrenalin.

Later, at the French halfpipe championships in Valenciennes, I met my two friends Issame Tolba and Benoît Hautin on Toto Ghali, Taïg Khris and Olivier de Grégorio. This was thanks to Pap's (Charles Lemaire) who offered to take us there.

Pap's owned a shop in the roller skating rink, the "disco roller skate". He was also a ramp builder. The first skateboard park was in Louvain-La-Neuve in Belgium at the end of the 1970s, in the underground garages and foundations of this now huge city.

Stephane Oerder, ex team manager of Rollerblade Europe came directly from Germany to skate on quads in this pioneer park! I thought several times that day that I was hallucinating. I talked to him about it several times, and even now it's still unbelievable to me.

After this Valenciennes competition, we quickly made connections with Toto, and inevitably we quickly discovered the Bowl in Marseille. My passion for roller skating took more and more place in my life.

In 1995 a major transition took place: I switched to inline skating. Another great adventure began, this time on an international level. Thanks to Toto Ghali I was able to dare the adventure. He stood by my side with his advice, his passion, his motivation, in short, his support.

In 1995 I left school, my family and my girlfriend. Toto and I were on tour for a month. I had the equivalent of 100 Euros in my pocket. We were on tour with Stephane André (skateboard driver) and Salim (graffiti artist) together with a Van VW Transport in the direction of Germany.

Jean Chanet during a bowl session in 2018I met Matthias Knoll from Powerslide and sympathised directly with him. He agreed to sponsor me. After some stops in Germany we drove towards Italy.
In a meeting with Jean Chanet in a bowl, a half-pipe demonstration for Rollerblade was made with Marcos Longares, Raphael Sandoz and Claus Dieter. I met Stephane Oerder, the Rollerblade Europe Manager, who let me ride along and I showed him some of my skills. He tells me that I'm not ready to do demos yet. I was really disappointed, frustrated. A few days later I was on my way home.

I came back more motivated than ever and I was determined to reach the right level, ready to train every day, manage and channel my energy, do hours of training until cramps would stop me.

I could not stop. I wanted to have new experiences, move around, find new good places.

I had my first competition "Blade" in Amsterdam (RAI Unlimited Contest). There I met Dallas Carlin, a wonderful meeting and the beginning of a great friendship. I was third on the pipe and he third in street skating competition.

My life was dedicated to skating, everything was organized for training and competitions. 2 weeks later I went with a new team towards Châteauroux.
On the program: halfpipe sessions, with Vins, Mattéo and Toto during several days. Then I went to Hannover, where a small halfpipe competition was on the program. We helped with the assembly/disassembly of the ramp and I met Paul, the boss of Vertical Rampes. I also met the boss: Mr René Hulgreen. He liked my style, because after the units during this competition René talked about me to Olaf Shenk (Roces Germany Distributor), who contacted me by leaving a message on the answering machine at my father's house... a great surprise when I came back! My "professional career" had begun.

Why has the pipe become such a great passion?

The pipe has always attracted me because it is impressive, imposing and beautiful, sometimes even untouchable. The curves are really pleasant to ride, the swing is constant like in a bowl.

"All ramps are different. They all have their own story. They are like works of art. Everyone needs time to adjust to them, to enjoy them to the fullest".

You have to gain years of experience before you can really enjoy them. It's not a toy, you don't just have to skate to get the best out of it. You need a lot of concentration and a very good physical condition to enjoy such a strong and unique pleasure. If you manage to put together a complete run of 45 seconds or more, trick after trick, it's a rush of adrenaline that will blow you away. I have yet to find anything so powerful.
For all these reasons, I love this discipline more than any other I have tried.

Jean Chanet at Rampaffairz skatepark in 2017

 

Have you also practiced other skate disciplines?

I did a few jumps, then a little roller street, a little roller hockey, but soon the pipes called me.

Do you also practice other sports at the same time? For fun or for training...

When I was younger, I tried out many sports in different clubs because I was full of energy: basketball, soccer, table tennis, swimming, judo... but none of them gave me the opportunity to create adaptations or innovations. So when I discovered roller skating, skate parks and ramps, my decision was clear. I had finally found my "sport".

At the moment I do a little jogging for my cardiovascular system and ride mountain bikes to strengthen my legs. I do sessions once or twice a week to repeat what I have learned, this is the most important thing I have learned so far.

What are your best and worst memories of roller skating?

Jean Chanet - cross rocket air in a magazineThe best memories are the encounters and friendships within the last 30 years. To have been able to discover all these beautiful countries and skate parks. Skating still makes me dream. I am happy to have participated in the development of this sport and indirectly in its industry. Currently I am developing certain projects and products further.
The worst moments of these years of passion are the loss of friends or acquaintances who were lost too early, too quickly, sometimes voluntarily or by mistake.

What motivated you to participate in competitions?

Above all, I wanted to surpass myself, ride for myself and keep my sponsors. I never competed to become number one. The spirit of these competitions was rather to bring together a large number of skaters who shared the same passion. As 95% of the drivers at the time would say, the event of the 1990s was held in Lausanne for the sake of the quads alone and for the gathering of more than 200,000 people in a skate park.

What were the most important events of that time?

I remember watching TV back then and one day I saw the ramp at the X-Games. I saw Caesar Mora, Tom Fry, Manuel Billiris, Matt Salerno and Arlo Eisenberg. I was very impressed because I was still on roller skates at that time. Eight months later I took part in the X-Games II with them! For me it was incredible that it went so fast. Without Toto Ghali it would not have been possible.

How did you come to your partnerships with Roces and Cozmo?

At that time I was skating wheels of Cockroach. They were the best quad wheels available at this time. They were of Australian origin and came from the skateboard industry. They weren't meant for quads, but they were perfect for traditional skating. Six years later, I had my pro model named Cockroach from Cozmo. I never thought this would ever happen.

What made you decide to leave Roces and join Bauer?

I decided to leave Roces because I wanted to be part of a team and be heard more. I wanted to be involved in product development. The Roces team was so big that I felt that my opinion was not being heard.

Who were the most famous skaters at that time?

At that time the most iconic riders were Issam Tolba, Rene Hulgreen, Tom Ahlqvist and Bo Elsbol.

What made you give up your professional career?

Unfortunately, Bauer's aggressive skating division went bankrupt. Other companies have reduced their bugdets and teams.

When was the last time you participated in a competition?

I last took part in a competition in 1999.

Who are the skaters currently inspiring you?

I would say Brian Neal Wainwright, Christian Hosoi, Matt Hoffman, Julien Culot and Brian Aragon.

What is your current profession?

Famus aggressive skating wheelsI am currently in a training course on organic vegetable production. In other words, learning how to produce and market vegetables without pesticides, how to eat better and healthier. At the same time, I am working on a project to open a skate park in Belgium. My girlfriend is my partner in this project. She is also a fan of rollerblading.

I am also actively involved in the development and sale of Famuswheels products in Belgium. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions in this regard! The Famus wheels are simply incredible in terms of performance.

I have tested a lot of wheels in 30 years and unfortunately no wheel has been up to the task in the Pipe and Bowl since the late 90's. It was a great frustration. The last ones that gave us some speed were the few old collector reels from Australia.

The reference comparable to Famuswheels goes back to the best wheels in the world: the Cosmos wheel. And yes, I say it loud and clear: we finally have wheels that give the good old Cosmos superior qualities! At home I had a pro model in 57 mm. I know the qualities and performance of the brand well.
It is a great pleasure to finally be able to reach speed more easily without having to exert yourself excessively and to feel the feeling of flying again! This is really the best!

Famuswheels has really introduced innovations and given the "Blade" a boost. Try it out on a ramp and in a bowl, you'll really be surprised and delighted. Full speed to the rendezvous!
I have the exclusive selling rights for Belgium. I provide skaters with rollers for testing and sometimes send them to them by mail. Sales are accelerating considerably lately. I have only positive feedback, curve lovers just enjoy them.
The range is growing with the development of different sizes and colours. For this year there are more nice surprises in store. This company is always looking for innovations, and that's why I particularly enjoy working with its team.

Do you still skate regularly?

Yes, I skate once or twice a week with my girlfriend and some old or new friends. Mainly mini ramp, ramp and bowl.

How do you see the future of skating?

I think skating is still alive, not with so many people of course, but with many enthusiasts who still have a scene in many countries.
Rollerblading is no longer in the media and may never be the same again as it was between 1995 and 2000, but it is clear that the scene still has a few good days ahead of it. I hope that little by little a new generation will take the lead, for a future that will be structured with the help of some of the old, still existing ones. Sooner or later, "Blading" will regain its rightful place in the media, in skate parks and in the industry. The wheel turns.
Every year we still see some big gatherings in Europe, like the Pro Bowl competition in Marseille, the Winterclash in Eindhoven, the NL competition in Strasbourg or the FISE in Montpellier.

 

Jean Chanet and his wife in Marseille

 

Clear the stage: If you have anything to add...

I have participated in competitions to secure my sponsorship contracts so that I can travel and earn my living. But the actual competition took place within myself, as a kind of self-evaluation, but never with the aim of being on the top step of the podium.
Thanks to Toto Ghali ;). Thanks for the partnerships: Ultrawheels Belgium, Out, Remz, Roces, Bauer, Cozmos, Powerslide, Timezone, ALK13, Famuswheels.

Le projet de skatepark de Jean Chanet en miniature

Ramp videos with Jean Jean Chanet

A ramp session in the skate park of Anderlecht (Belgium) with Jean-Jean Chanet in 1996.

Jean-Jean Chanet at the scooter competition of Bercy in 1996

In 1996 the Roller Contest of Bercy took place. This video shows the runs of Manuel Billiris, Jean-Jean Chanet, Raphaël Sandoz and René Hulgreen.

A mini ramp session with Jean-Jean Chanet in 2012.

Jean-Jean Chanet in the bowl of the Aera51 in Eindhoven (Netherlands).

Data sheet

Name: Chanet
First name: John
Born: 4 May 1975
Size: 174 cm
Weight: 75 kg
Country: Belgium
Lives in: Seneffe
First steps on skates at the age of: Eleven years.
Category: Senior/Veteran
Speciality: ramp, skate acrobatics
Studies / Work: A skatepark project
Strength: Endurance
Weak point: rotations
Last seen movie: Fractured
Video games: Grand Tourismo
I like: sharing, truth, speed, adrenaline.
I don't like: politics, racism, injustice.
Quality: Honesty
Defect: I often go to excess.
Spoken languages: French, English.
Alcohol or fruit juice? Fruit juice, vegetable juice, occasionally alcohol.
Beach or mountain: both
Morning or evening: both
Cheese or dessert? Goat's cheese or sheep's cheese, yes.
Rap, metal or techno? Techno
Football or rugby? Neither.

Awards

  • European champion 1996
  • 3rd place - Paris Bercy 1996
  • 3rd place - Paris Bercy 1997
  • 4th place - Lausanne intern. 1996
  • 3rd place - Lausanne intern. 1997
  • 7th place - X-Games 1996
  • Second place - Barcelona SuperContest. 1997
  • 3rd place NISS 1997 and so on...

Links

Released  on 30 January 2020 - Read 2113 times

By :
Fondateur et webmaster de rollerenligne.com. Alexandre est un passionné de roller en général et sous tous ses aspects : histoire, économie, sociologie, évolution technologique... Ne le branchez pas sur ces sujets sans avoir une aspirine à portée de main !

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