Europe has a healthy export of good freestylers. The REVERSE flatlands helped introduce Lillis to America. You had a really fun part in that video. Stylish skating to 'Bimbo' by Lambretta. Describe the freestyle scene during that time in Sweden compared to today.
I would say it has grown a little since the early 2000. Now we have for example the freestylers Felix Jonsson, Eric Schäder and Andre Julio Hansson entering contests, and Mathias Dewoon (back then Ösund) is doing a comeback and will enter the World Championships in Stockholm this year. So it is growing as it does all over the world. Legendary freestylers Stefan Johansson and Uffe Hansson is having regular sessions and Stefan took part in the Moonshine Freestyle battle a few weeks ago. And of course Denis Sopovic, that was one of my inspiration for founding the INFFS back then, and he organized the newly annual Stockholm Freestyle contest.
I've always admired your style and consistency. How often do you skate these days and how often did you skate in the 80s?
Thank you very much! Makes me very glad to hear. In the summer I skate around 3-6 days a week, depending on the weather. Right now it is winter and I usually skate 3 times a week and 2-3 times a week go snowboarding. I skate and snowboard rather short sessions but intense quality sessions. I need to manage my time well as I am a lot into Bikram Yoga, TM and the TM-Sidhiprogram. Bikram Yoga and TM is like the foundation for both my skating and work, well, my whole life. I also spend some time geeking around with strategy and board games, and watching scifi and super hero series, and reading some comics.
Thank you very much. My first idea was to make a graphic that was a mix of Japanese anime and Indian devas. As you know Reverse got started by me and Per Welinder. Per used to send me some Birdhouse mini street blanks and then then I came up with the idea of maybe making a complete modern freestyle deck. Per got sold on the idea and used his contacts to make a few deck samples. I was not sure about the shape but was sure about the dimensions and wheelbase. I also wanted a twin, a double kick. Per on the other hand wanted a flat nose and I said yes to that. So Per drew that shape and he wanted it not to be only practical but also visually appealing.
It was not easy to find good molds, the first samples had a down pointed nose. But then they found a good mold. Next was to make the graphic and Per contacted the artist that has made graphics for some of Birdhouse best sellers. What came back was not the anime/deva thing, but something with skulls and the third eye, and it was not reflecting me in any way. At the same I had read a book by Deepak Chopra, who was comparing the European druids and wizards with Indian rishis and seers. So I decided I wanted a wizard. Per said it would be good with a graphic that would appeal to 12 year olds as we wanted to target a new generation of freestylers, and these smaller decks would also be good for kids. The first sketch looked already awesome, but according to Per had too many components, with the wizard in a forest and it was a rainbow. So the artist simplified it and it became the final graphic.
The next step was wheels, but that is another story …
Per was thinking about marketing the deck and wheels through Birdhouse, but I am not sure everyone there was sold on that idea. Instead Per gave me Reverse on a silver plate and we contacted Lynn Cooper and licensed the brand Reverse to him. I am not sure we ever sold completes, but the decks sold quite well the first few years and I think Lynn is still selling the wheels. I am not involved in Reverse at all any longer, but as you know now ride for Moonshine.
I don't think I've ever seen you mess up a varial fingerflip. You definitely have that trick wired in your brain. Any tips for the readers?
I think i missed one last week, that was maybe the first miss in 30 years … This trick did not come too easy for me, I even broke a deck during my first attempts. I think it was Hazze Lindgren, or maybe it was Martin Willners, who told me to have in my mind to try jump over the board, and so I did and I started to land them.
I learned Transcendental Meditation (TM) in 1989 and that made me listen more to my body and I realized I was pushing my body far too much, and was pretty much overtrained. I am interested in the worlds oldest system for health, Ayurveda (yoga and meditation is part of Ayurveda) and Ayurveda talks about pushing yourself no more than 50% and use nasal breathing. I tried, and it made me change my routines a bit so I would not stress my body too much. But I had built up so much stress from all training I could hardly do anything with nasal breathing. So I cut back more and more until only footworks and wheelies was left. But it was fun! I always felt that something was missing from my freestyle, it felt I was never really skateboarding. But with footworks and wheelies I got the feeling of skateboarding again. I entered the European Championships in 1992 (or was it 1991?) and did only footworks and wheelies and had so much fun. It was over 30 riders entering and in the qualifications I was in 7th place, and ended up 14th or something. One judge said it looked like figure skating. I felt like a winner, as I was skating for myself and the crowd, trying to do the best within my style, got into the zone. I was happy with my skating and that made me feel like a winner.
Then I got tired of freestyle a bit, loosened up my trucks and just cruised around. Then got a strange idea about quitting skateboarding. I tried, but it only lasted a few months and I got back again. But by then freestyle was gone from the contest scene. That made me found the International Network For Flatland Freestyle Skateboarding (INFFS), Flatline, Flatline Online, F-Forum and co-founding WFSA, trying to connect to freestylers and get the scene back.
Then I took the course ”Invincible Athletics” by John Douillard, learning how to train according ro Ayurveda no matter if you are on a pro level or not. Slowly I got stronger and started to do more tricks and developed the current style I have. Some believe my wheelies is my old tricks, but they are actually my new tricks.
When I am working on routines I listen a lot to my body how it feels, how the wholeness feels. One time it did not feel good, I had no idea why, but it was something missing on a subtle level. I tried adding a wheelie in the middle and it all felt into place. My routine is like a piece of art, one little thing can make a huge different for me. With some wheelies and spacewalks in my routines I get the skateboarding feeling that is so special to me.
As you know my style requires at least 2 minute runs. Still, I have gone to the Round-Up each time, even though the runs are way to short for me there. But it is such a fun contest, with so many of my skateboarding friends showing up, and I am making new friends every time. And I love the Canadians, such nine people, and Vancouver is such an awesome place and it’s great fun to go film location hunting for my favorite series such as Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Once Upton A Time! And it is so great to meet up with my good friend Kevin harris and his wife Audrey.
I want my skating to be an extension of myself, it should feel natural and I want it to look stylish, smooth and easy. I believe one of the hardest thing about freestyle is to make it look good, fun and easy. I am working on that and I have a long way to go.