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Monday, June 13, 2011

Happy Birthday Thierry Dupin

Thierry Dupin G&S team member before riding for Santana, in 1978 at the La Vilette skate park in Paris.
Photo Loubat
I am biased when I talk about Thierry Dupin. He has been my best friend for 35 years… And this is a very short recollection of our story beyond the Banzai team.

I first met Thierry Dupin in 1975 when we were both skating at “Le Lycee”, in Biarritz; just in front of the Residence Nathalie where I used to live. During the day we were surfing at La Grande Plage and at night, we were skating at Le Phare or le Lycee, when we were not watching surf movies “Au Pax” or at “Parthaye”…

Months later, we reunited at Le Trocadero, our skateboard playground and the cradle of skateboarding in Paris and eventually got hired to form the Banzai
Thierry Dupin in 1979, touring all over France for Santana skateboards...

In 1976, together with Jose De Matos we were driving to the very first European Skateboard championship at Zurich in Switzerland. Our boss was Jean Pierre Marquant, the brand was Banzai Skateboards and we were the first pro French skaters, ever. We arrived with a winner mentality and started to show off, Thierry was almost certain to be in the podium, but he got elated by the feeling of being better than the others… He escaped from the contest compound and went speeding on one the hills around Zurich. I was in the car and stared in fear at Thierry and Jose speeding faster and faster on the steep slope. Marquant was shouting at them demanding that they stop, immediately. The race ended in several trees and Thierry was rushed to the hospital where he got sutured on the spot. Marquant was out of his mind... Then, the contest rules were not uniformed (It was actually the very first European skateboard contest) our skating was aggressive and renegade and the Swiss were thinking of skateboarding as a ballet on 4 wheels or as a ski contest. When the contest's organizer heard about Thierry accident they started to see us as renegade. The clash was ineluctable and there was nothing to do. Between Thierry at the hospital and the stringent rules, only Jose got to get on the podium. That actually started a long streak of wins for Jose De Matos (Worldwide Champion, European Champion and 8 times French champion, between 78 and 93). José's specialty was slalom even though he practiced flatland freestyle as well.
Thierry Dupin live on French TV in front of several million viewers.
He became World amateur slalom Champion in Canada, 1986. According to Rodney Mullen, Jose Dematos was actually faster than the fastest pro. But, that's another story...

Winning did not matter anyway. Jean Pierre Marquant and Thierry, both daredevil beyond extreme were probably born to meet. Marquant is the guy who not only walked trough Death Valley in 1966 but is also the guy who (when he was more than 65 years old) windsurfed through the 80 plus Tahitian islands. Both long time friends of Arnaud De Rosnay, they helped him prepared his crossing of the Straits of Formosa… Jean Pierre Marquant is also the guy who established the speed world record on a skateboard (more than 100km/h).

I remember seeing both of them skating the slopes of Chaville, at more than 50 miles with almost no pads (a Cooper helmet). We skated all over France on noisy makeshifts ramps, on the wings of a 747, in empty reservoirs, dirty pools, steep hills, pyramids, in concrete half pies and in big skinny wooden demo ramp (with no flat) or looking for whatever concrete terrain with trannies to skate over. We jumped over cars (actually Thierry’s specialty), we skated in the hallways of the RER (the asphalt of the Metro-RER is so smooth it’s almost a crime), the French subway, with the cops trying to run after us. Ahahaha good luck guys!!! Thierry was the king at discovering amazing spots, skin soft asphalt parking lots, brick waves, double domes, stairs, slopes, whatever was possible or impossible to skate, we were on it. We skated in every skatepark at the time: Saint Jean De Luz, La Villette, Nantes, and Béton Hurlant. We participated in contest all over Europe and left numerous footsteps wherever we were going. We toured (although separately) all of Spain and skated in front of 5,000 – 10,000 Spaniards shouting “ole” every time we kick-turned on the ramps… But Thierry was different than the others. In contests, when the heat of the battle was between Jose De Matos and Alexis Lepesteur, Thierry was above the lot. Thierry became the national French skateboard star after participating at the show “La Tête Et Les Jambes ”.

In May 1978 Thierry Dupin was the host of a live TV show on national TV at prime time. The show featured jumping, slalom and mini-ramp and the last installment (of 4) had to be extended by 45 more minutes of live TV after the telephone lines exploded with the viewers’ calls.
The 4 installment show drew several million viewers and was a milestone for skateboarding in France.

After la “La Tête Et Les Jambes,” Thierry even sang and recorded a 45 called "kings of skateboarding" with a famous French singer at the time, Patrick Topaloff. Then, he started touring all over France. Then, in 1980, skateboarding came to a screeching halt. The parks of La Vilette and Béton Hurlant were bulldozed.

Thierry Dupin holding his idol and model's board: The Logan-Earth Ski...
Thierry and Bruce were actually born one day apart...
It was near impossible to come back to flat street skating after grinding coping. Vert is a drug… Our drug.

Thierry moved to Toulouse, in the south of France and in became the President of the French Federation of Skatboarding.

At 52 years old, Thierry is still skating vert. He is one of the feature champ on the upcoming story regarding French vert heroes. Two years ago, together with Joel Boisgontier and J.P. Marquant (and Pierre Andre Senizergues in the background), we toured the California skateparks. All, reunited in a skate park for the first time in 30 years.

When you ask Thierry about skateboarding, he says the story is not over: he is preparing a huge skateboard exposition at the Musée National du Sport in Paris called Béton Hurlant, in memorandum of the first big French skatepark bulldozered at the end of the 70’s… The exposition will open in December 2011. If the future of skateboarding looks bright, that’s because 35 years ago, we had people like him showing the way.

Happy Birthday Thierry Dupin!


I skate therefore I am: skateboard pools, pipes, parks, bowls and vert, daily skateboarding news...
posted by Xavier Lannes @ Monday, June 13, 2011 

Blogger Unknown said...

I won a skate vert contest in St. Jean de Luz in summer of 1978 and have no pictures - Does anyone know of the event?
Jean-Paul de Kervor

September 25, 2011 at 7:47 AM  

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