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Léo Cholet – “Power & Elegance”

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Léo is one of the most skilled guys that I know in skateboarding. You could even say he’s one of the “chosen ones.” You know, those who can learn a trick on the first try, who don’t need much effort because their style speaks for itself; those who possess a crazy pop; those who can be both powerful and elegant on a board. The chosen ones are also the ones who give you chills with a simple kickflip on flat, the ones to whom you suggest dream tricks, and they say, “Yeah, I think it’s doable.” Those who always surprise you but are never satisfied with themselves even though they’ve just landed an insane trick; or simply those who have no problem skating even when they’re hungover…

- Clément Le Gall

Okay, can you tell us where you are and what day it is?

It’s Tuesday, October 3rd, and I have just returned from Brussels to Paris, where I spent the weekend in a bus. Two hours late and two hours in traffic jams, we were in a bus without Wi-Fi and power supply for eight hours, not bad. The weather isn’t great, it’s raining here, but it should get better. I’m going to film with Ruben [Delisle] there.

Is the wrist okay?

No, it’s a disaster actually. Every time I fall on it, it’s ten minutes of full-on suffering, and as I tend to act like a spider when I fall, I think it’s not going to get any better. That’s why I’m trying to fall rolling on my back a little more. I think it’s the scaphoid – I have to go and get an X-ray in Bordeaux.

Worst advice when you struggle with a trick?

- There’s no point in getting upset.

- It’s in your head.

- Do it like on flatground.

- It’s all about the shoulders.

x I will add: “Why are you angry? It’s useless.”

You’ve been wandering around for a while now. Do you plan to continue like this or are you going to settle down a bit – and where would that be?

I see myself everywhere and at the same time nowhere, to be honest.

Yet sleeping on a couch?

Yes. [laughing] No, but in reality, I rarely sleep on a couch. It’s true though that there was a folding cot period, to come back to your question. I still see myself living in Bordeaux but continuing to wander around as much as possible. I’ve been to Paris quite a bit, but I think I prefer to be passing through.

Are all these trips more focused on skating or tourism?

Actually, it’s generally focused on skateboarding.

I see. Did you skate a lot in Brussels, for example?

[laughing] No, it was focused on tourism with friends who lived there, but hey, I still took along my board but didn’t take it out during the stay.

Leo cholet nollie 50 50 alcorcon clement le gall

Nollie 50-50

Best Powerade color?

- Red

- Blue

- Yellow (only available in Spain)

x Purple (DIY mix of blue and red that tastes like the red one actually)

You traveled a lot lately, especially to Brazil. Was it for skating?

These trips were more focused on skating because I joined Titi [Thierry Gormit], who was there for a few months and made some connections – notably with JP Villa, who takes care of a distribution there – and also with some guys who film, Bruno Dox and Rodrigues Andrade. I went there twice for two months and we moved around quite a bit with the Chancla crew. We did around ten days in Chile, too.

You’re going to South America again soon, this time Colombia, right?

Yes, still with the Chancla guys. It’s a crew of around fifty riders, mainly Brazilians, but there are a few guys who have joined over time, like Titi and me. They had already made a video in Lisbon and one in Thailand and Titi had joined them that time. We did the premiere of their video in São Paulo and that’s where I connected with the guys. The plan is to have 15 days of skating and five days of tourism, chilling, swimming… Rodrigo Gonzales and Dox are in charge of organizing the trips.

In terms of skating and atmosphere, are there any big differences with what we find in Europe?

Overall, the crews are quite big, so there are still a lot of skaters there. In terms of the sessions and everything, however, it remains very similar.

A few years or decades ago, Brazilian skateboarding was very stereotypical – at least what we saw of it in Europe. Do you have the impression that this has changed?

Not that much, actually. It’s true that it’s a rather technical/pop skating, but there are still quite a few trendy/Instagrammable guys, like we meet in Europe.

Yes, with social media, everyone is getting “up to date” now.

Yes, that’s for sure. Above all, I have the impression that the guys are much more connected to what’s happening in Europe than the other way around. They know much more about Europeans than I know about Brazilians.

Maybe it’s that Europeans are very egocentric or is it just because you only look at the latest highlights?

[laughing] Yes, maybe.

Leo cholet switch bs 180 alcorcon clement le gall

Switch Backside 180

Which one is not a skater?

- Paul Rodriguez

- Kevin Rodrigues

- Sixto Rodriguez (would’ve been the right answer)

x Matt Rodriguez

Concerning the audiovisual part, I know that you filmed most of your projects with one of your childhood friends, Lucci [Luc Mazieres], and so far, that has always produced coherent videos. Is it good to have such a strong relationship with your filmmaker?

Yes, it’s true that we often figure this out around 4 a.m. when emotions are running high. It’s really amazing because Luc is the first guy I met from the skate world of Bordeaux. In fact, I was born in Bordeaux and went to live in the Arcachon Basin for a few years, a little furtive passage to Sicily for six months for a family project that was eventually aborted. Then we returned to Bordeaux where I found myself in class with Luc. We hit it off quite quickly and I joined a crew at the Chartrons skatepark that exists to this day. Over time, the guys from our crew skated less and the group is a little scattered, but we have kept this hard core overall. What’s certain is that having a guy like Luc, who knows you well and who is always motivated to film, is really good. There’s nothing worse than having an idea and motivation and not being able to film…

And also, there is a real relationship of trust between you two.

Seriously, we are intimate enough to say things sincerely to each other and that allows us to avoid, for example, him filming a trick that he knows he won’t use and I am not afraid to tell him when there’s something I don’t like about the edits or other things… In the end, I think that we are both winners and that the projects reflect what we really are.

It’s also interesting to see that you both popped up at the same time.

Five years ago, we started from nothing and pulled ourselves up, each progressing in one’s own discipline and committed to be on the same high level, so that the result wouldn't be unbalanced. And now Luc has his projects without me and I without him, but we still end up having joint projects, like the video that goes with this article. Even if I know that I will stop skating before he stops filming [laughing], he still has some room to spare.

Leo Cholet ollie over Bilbao CLG

Ollie

Which of these filmers is not from Bordeaux?

- Ben Chadourne

x Romain Batard (he’s from the Bretagne)

- Yoan Taillandier

- Luc Mazieres

He’s also much more passionate about skating and videos than you could be… Some skate nerd might think that it’s a shame to not know certain skaters or legendary videos. What do you think?

I understand them. Even when I talk with the new generation and tell them about a trick or a skater, despite the few references I have, I find it ridiculous when they don’t know them and I tell them: “Dig a little more please.” [laughing]

Which one is not a skate video?

- Battalion

- Révolution (would’ve been the right answer)

- The Reason

x Opinion

How do you explain that? Do you watch and forget it or do you just not watch anything?

To be honest, I recently educated myself a lot more, but I started in a town with no skate shop and not much of a skate scene, so I have a lot of gaps from this period and don’t know much about everything that may have happened before like ‘90s, early 2000. There’s really a lot to know.

Who invented the Bennett grind?

x Matt Bennett (by elimination)

- Cyrus Bennett

- Niels Bennett

Leo Cholet Bs nosegrind revert Bilbao CLG

Backside Nosegrind Revert

Leo cholet switch bs 50 50 bordeaux clg

Switch Backside 50-50

It’s a bit like the names of tricks. Have you ever done a trick you didn’t know the name of?

Yes! [laughing] As I said, I started in a small town and when I arrived in Bordeaux, I was doing tricks, but I didn’t know how to name them. For example, switch stance. I understood that the guys were skating backwards and I liked the idea, but I didn’t know what it was called.

Which one is a skateboard trick?

- Barspin

- Truespin

x Bigspin (easy)

- Backspin

It seems you didn’t have enough time to read about skating, but you found time to watch some shitty YouTube channel.

[laughing] Actually, I’ve noticed that I was far from being the only one. Amelien [Foures] is not bad in the genre, but it must be said that I am quite disappointed at the moment with the algorithm. I think I have seen everything that was interesting.

Interesting? I see, like, “I skated with a Velcro grip” or Urbex YouTubers.

No, no Urbex, I’m not hooked. It always seems kinda fake. Only Clément Le Gall manages to watch them in full. I’m more into unknown, authentic YouTube channels with less than 1,000 views on their videos.

So you are a talent scout?

No, but I think I recognize myself in them, from the time when I made shitty skate videos. I think I look for the carefreeness in them that I no longer have.

Leo Cholet fs noseslide Bilbao CLG

Frontside Noseslide

Which of these brands is not a skate brand?

- Ace

- Haze

- éS

- Hélas

x Ellesse (must pick the good one as I have a sponsor in the list)

Speaking of videos with 1,000 views, it reminds me of a video of you at the big T during a very early morning session, can you tell us about it?

It started from a very classic outing in Bordeaux. It was, however, quite cold, like -3 °C, and the middle of February. Around 6 a.m., we all said that it was a good idea to go get the boards and the camera and jump down the steps of the Grand Theatre and give big sloppy kisses on the fish-eye. But it might be good if it stayed below 1,000 views. [laughing]

It makes me think of this session in Marseille for the Free Skate Mag cover. I remember that you didn’t sleep much that day, and it seems that the photo of the ollie drop grind for the interview was shot in the same conditions. How do you skate in a state where most people would cancel the plan?

In Marseille, it was more or less okay, but in Bilbao, I could have clearly slept all day. But at that moment, if you still have a little alcohol in your blood and the atmosphere is good, you warm up and you realize that your body can still function – even if your vision is quite blurry. At the same time, you’re even more focused because you know you risk getting hurt.

Just knowing that you haven’t slept should be enough for you to not try it. But you do it and it works.

Yes! Actually, sometimes it doesn’t work at all.

Leo cholet switch bs noseblunt bordeaux clg

Switch Backside Nosebluntslide

Best energy drink for mixing longdrinks?

- Dark Dog

- Red Bull

x Psychik (discount crossroads brand, guarana version, but I don’t recommend it either)

- Go Fast

- Crazy Tiger

Let’s talk business again. You’ve been skating for Rave for a long time, you’re pro for the brand, and you’ve seen it evolve from a crew to a serious brand. How did you experience the transition?

Of course it was almost just a crew at the beginning. Most of the riders were people from Bordeaux. The projects involved everyone. PJ [Chapuis] filmed everything, brought everyone together, and we all pushed each other. Today we all have our own projects, the brand is bigger and the riders are scattered, but we still have this family spirit when we get together, so it’s rather positive. But it’s true that it would be nice to have another trip with the team, like back in the days. It’s been a while.

Which of these Rave skaters has never gone to a rave (several possibilities and I don’t necessarily have the answer)?

- Enzo Morel

- Fred Plocque-Santos

- Me (wrong)

- You

x Ruben Duvignacq (easy, he’s probably 13 years old)

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