Jean-marc Johannes’s mom gave him his first skateboard when he was nine, and he fell in love with the sport, competing in his first pro-am competition at the age of 11.
The 25-year-old professional skater now travels the world competing in various competitions, but he still holds onto the memories of practising tricks in Chromite Road outside his Penlyn Estate home until the street lights came on.
Growing up skateboarding in Athlone wasn’t as easy as he might have wished.
“It was relatively far from any skate parks, and as a kid the only time I could go to one was on a weekend, most of the time I would be street skating.”
But despite the challenges, he spent most of his spare time mastering his board. The trick he struggled most with was a hardflip – a combination of a front side shovit and a kickflip.
“It was hard, but I practised every day and got some tips from other skaters. Eventually I managed to get it right.”
Jean-marc says the highlight of his career so far, has been was winning a wild card into the FISE World Series last year, which is one of the biggest extreme sports festivals in the world.
“I entered a video of myself doing tricks at a local park for the international contest to win a spot on the tour and an all-expenses-paid trip to the event in China.”
He went on to compete in the competition with 50 other skaters and made it to the top 10.
His favourite skating brand is Almost Skateboards, and Jean-marc says they are the strongest and lightest boards on the market.
“I usually go through a board a month, but I find myself riding these boards for close to three months,” he says.
He says the average skateboard goes for about R500, but more if you want something special.
“If you are building up a board for the first time and you want the best possible trucks, wheels, bearings and board, it will cost around R1 000.”
The pro skater, who has a number of sponsors behind him, would like to see South African skateboarders get the recognition they deserve and more opportunities to show off their skills.
“I have seen so many amazing skateboarders and can’t wait to see what they will bring to the table in the next few years.”
His message to young skaters and the youth is to never give up.
“If you give up, then you have failed, but if you stay persistent, focused and refuse to believe the naysayers, you will succeed in anything.”
Jean-marc has been invited back to compete in the FISE World Series this year in China Cheng Du and his second Far’* High Skateboarding World Cup in Paris. He will also be filming a few video projects.
“It has taken time to get these contests, but I know that I can’t just sit back and relax now. If anything, it’s going to be even harder competing in these competitions.”