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Thursday, December 8, 2011

The heroes from Béton Hurlant skatepark: Alexis Lepesteur

Original Béton Hurlant skatepark layout, 1977 in Skate France International
The heroes from Béton Hurlant skatepark: Alexis Lepesteur

To celebrate the opening of the Béton Hurlant skateboarding exhibition in Paris, France isTia.Tv is publishing the portrait of a couple of skaters from the original skatepark. Béton Hurlant (read screaming concrete) was the best skatepark in France in the 70’s and was destroyed when skateboarding took a dive in the early 80’s. The first episode is with Alexis Lepesteur.
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The “Who’s Hot” list of the early SkateBoarder Magazine (70’s run) is a who’s who of skateboarding. People like Bruce Logan, Stacy Peralta, Henri Hester, Jay Adams, Bob Biniak, Dennis Martinez, Dave Hackett, Micke Alba,
Alexis Lepesteur at Beton Hurlant Skatepark, circa 1979. Photo Loubat.
Alan Gelfand, Lonnie Hiramoto et al. were all featured as the up and coming skaters for years to come. In 1979, an unknown French guy from Paris also got his name in the “Who’s Hot” section of SkateBoarder Magazine. The difference between Alexis Lepesteur and most of the other stars is that Alexis got a double spread (with a typo in his name). Is it a stretch to say that Alexis was one of the hottest worldwide vert skaters? Not according to SkateBoarder. Alexis used to skate at Le Trocadero and Béton Hurlant and was an all terrain skater. Not only Alexis was good at free-style, slalom and vert but he was always opposed to Jose DeMatos, the French king of free-style. When Jose was training hard to perfect his art, Alexis was just smoking “des petards” and dropping for fun from the top of the concrete half pipe at Béton. Jose had the technique, built upon hundreds of hours of training. Alexis had the style, built in his DNA (and the petards...). I first interviewed Alexis Lepesteur in 1978 for Skate France International, then again in 1979 and Claude Queyrel got a third interview in 2004 for his EndlessLines website. I remember touring France with Alexis and doing demos on a portable ramp. This ramp had no flat and was too skinny. It was a rolling danger. We were just doing our best not to kill ourselves during the demos. Alexis was shredding over the vertical like if there was no tomorrow.

In 1978, Alexis and I entered the Pepsi Challenge at The Runway contest and he finished in the top three. After that, Alexis spent some time as a pro In the UK and then California, shredding at The Ranch and living at Stacy Peralta’s.

Unfortunately, Alexis Lepesteur stopped skateboarding in the mid 80’s and never again stepped foot on a board. He still lives in the south of France, not far from the Prado Bowl and is remembered as one gnarly dude.

The best compliment to Give Alexis after all those years is to republish verbatim the WHO'S HOT part of SkateBoarder Magazine.

"Béton Hurlant skatepark was a serious business. Louis-Pascal Couvelaire was the owner of the land. It was also next door to a broken lot car.
This is another guy who had felt the trick. He had a derelict land and decided to exploit it by building a skate park and charge the entrance.
Well, I was told that it was a paying skate park
!" (Laughter). In EndlessLines interview… Photo Loubat

My original interview of Alexis Lepesteur for Skate France in 1978.
SkateBoarder Magazine #4/Vol8, 1979. Alexis Lepasteur (sic) 18 years old, rides for Benjyboards
" I’d like to enter a worldwide pro-bowl. The California level of skating won’t be as high above the rest of the world as the Californians think. "

Just a year or so ago, the idea of a truly international bowlriding contest as being anything but an overwhelming landslide for the Southern Californian contingent was ridiculous. The Southern California advantage has not only been one of time, but also of terrain, since, the natural type (i.e. parks and ramps) have always been more plentiful. However, since then, for a variety of reasons, Floridians, Nothern Californians, and even the English and Swedes, have proven the heartlanders not as invincible.

The original "Who's Hot" double page in SkateBoarder magazine. At the time, Alex was pro for Benjiboard...
On our recent trip to Europe, James Cassimus and I came upon yet another vertical skater to add to the list of internationals who match up to U. S. standards. Regarded as the top vertman in France and just possibly on the European continent altogether.
Alexis Lepasteur impressed us as not only highly proficient and precise, but, at the same time, spontaneous and energetic. He’d work the edge hard, thrusting his arms and torse in a purely functional style, which if not classic in form, was nonetheless hot. Halfway through our trip, no else we’d seen could touch him. We realized that Alexis did not represent a national movement, and in fact seemed a bit out of place among his peers at home

At the end of the 70’s Alexis spends a couple of month in Southern California, ripping pools everywhere with
Stacy Peralta. He recalls that an evening with the guys from "Dogtown", was “based on prohibition! (Laughter). 
The guys smoked weed and firecrackers but at the time in California smoking pot was more or less tolerated ...
 Drinking beer,that was totally forbidden! Minors do not buy alcohol in California.” Photo Loubat
park Béton Hurlant in Paris, but he was definitely of international pro caliber and an important trail blazer at that. But how ?
An interview with Alexis later revealed that he did have a head start on his friends. A few years ago, his uncle imported English skateboards setting him up for freestyle and slalom sessions at the popular " Trocadero ", a broad roadway near the Eiffel Tower. By May of last year, Alexis was dividing his free time between bank and “rampage " riding and demos for various importers and local manufacturers. And then, a few months later, a few skateparks were built in the Paris area and “since then I’ve almost only been into skateparks ".
Two trips to Southern California during the fall and winter of last year further strengthened the framework of Alexis’skating and
supplied direction. " I liked Alva‘s style and Stacy’s style and they ‘re completely different !… Also Ray Bones. He’s so smooth, every move flows together ". Alexis likewise favors " four or five english skaters " he’s ridden with during regular tours in that country, among them fellow Benjyboards team members Jeremy Henderson and Marc Sinclair. Not surprisingly, Alexis’quiver of boards is an international blend. A 25" Fibre Flex with halftracks and Yo Yo’s is used for 360s (he can do up to 29). For slalom it’s a 29" carbon fiber and aluminum French-made La Cadur. And on banks and vert, Alexis has his own model Benjyboard, a 30x 9 1/2 maple laminate with the tail as wide as the nose ".
Aside from decent equipment, Alexis figures good music is essential to good skating. " I always skate with music. You need rythm to skate, mostly rock and roll, Lou Reed, Stones, Telephone… I listen to reggae, but mostly its rock and roll. "
A good-natured, very sociable Frenchman, Alexis is believable when he says he skates for fun. Likewise opinionated, he observes that " maybe the American skaters are too professional-oriented… " I like being rad, but I don’t do it for the cash ".
Alexis plans to attend a university next year to study advertising/marketing. He nonetheless intends "to be skating for a long time to come " and feels " everybody should rip. " Why ? " I just like to stop and watch good skating too ".

Benito S.

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posted by Xavier Lannes @ Thursday, December 08, 2011 


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