Jackson Shapiera Interview

Great conversation with this super rad Australian who was 3rd ranked according to the IGSA last season. He gets us stoked on the scene down under and takes us through his unfortunate leg break at ”Mt Rape-You”. Jacko also shares his plans for the World Championships in Calgary this month.

Hey Jacko, where are you from?

G’day, I’m from down under. Sydney to be exact, I live on the Northern Beaches where the sun shines (not this summer though) and where the skating is rad.

When did you start skating?
Hard to say when I actually ‘started’ skating. I’ve always been playing around with boys toys since I was a grom. I surfed heaps when I was younger but wasn’t ‘into’ skateboarding. However I was able to ride a skateboard, I could push and carve and whatnot. It wasn’t until I was about 15 when I got a longboard and took my surfing moves to the pavement. The rest just got bigger from there.

There is quite a big surf scene down under, do a lot of them longboard?
It’s hard to say if they all longboard, but I could easily say most of them know HOW to skate. Most crews on the beaches here that surf also own longboards, but they don’t do the same riding that I would do. They know how to carve and cruise around, but it’s rare that you get a surfer breaking away from the barrels and cutbacks to chase big hills and slash steep, busy roads.

What sort of riding do you do?
Fast riding.

Is there a big ‘’fast riding’’ scene in Sydney?
Fully! The boys I skate with here are all ‘go-fast’ crew. We just have great mountain roads outside of the city to bust out on and find some speed. We all have our different influences, and we love getting sideways and slashing streets but mostly the hunger for speed is what drives us. The hills we have are steep, especially where I live, it’s quite windy and dangerous so going fast and holding it together all at the same time is a real rush.

How soon after you got a longboard did you get the speed-bug?
I had the speed bug since day one. When you think about it, a longboard is a way to get from A to B quicker right? I spent a few years just ripping around in my own world with no real knowledge of there being a ‘sport’, so I was just bombing all my local hills, carving faster and faster each time for a couple of years. Eventually you meet more people involved and they open your eyes to the possibilities, the internet starts spawning videos and you become connected. At the end of 2007 when I competed in my first year of slalom racing, I was introduced to bombing long mountain roads in leathers. Never looked back since, only one way down from there.

Do you still race slalom?
Whenever I can get to a race, yes! I love slalom, the only problem is: there aren’t many races these days, and I’m usually away on skate trips when the ones at Oz are on. Whenever I’m local and they are on, I won’t miss them. It’s like a big reunion with all the people I met when I was a 17 year old newbie ready to race skateboards, learning off all the older crew who never let slalom die. They still kill it in the bowl with their kids too. Slalom was just another version of land surfing really. I watched Dog Town & Z-Boys and was hooked on their surf style and got stoked when they played footage of the old slalom races. Eventually I found out about a race in Sydney and I showed up with a mate, had no idea of what slalom boards were, I just knew that there were cones and you had to go round ’em. It was pretty fun so I went to more races and fell in love with it. I went on to be the National champion two years in a row.

Nice! Have you competed in any slalom races outside Austrailia?
Yeah, I was lucky enough to race at the World Championships in 2008. My first sponsor, and still number 1 sponsor (Hopkin Skate) sent me to race in the IGSA world cup tour and kick some ass for Ozzie, they gave me the opportunity to race at the world champs for slalom. I entered the amateur division and came 2nd in the Hybrid, 5th in the Giant slalom and did averagely in the tight slalom coz we got moved indoors due to rain, and raced on some gay flat course. Now I look back I wish I raced in the pro division! If I ever get that chance again I wouldn’t hesitate to race the opens. World Champion Ramon Konigshausen came to Australia once, he raced one of our slalom races, and I beat him, on his own board! But then he got me back the next day and beat me in another comp. It was great fun!

How does your slalom technique affect your riding?
Greatly! I wish i did it more. It works your power, your balance, and most importantly your focus. Knowing when to go slow and when to put on the turbo. Also I guess it keeps you fit. When I slowed down on the slalom, I got a bit out of shape. Hopefully I can slalom off this nice beer belly I’ve been working on!
The beer belly is to increase your momentum?
Well at first that was the idea. I put on more weight when I did my ankle in at the end of 2009. All that time on the couch made me fat. When I got into skating again, I was moving with greater momentum! So I utilised that in the following season, tried to keep my weight up. Now I don’t think it’s such a great stratagey. You need to be solid, but fit and healthy. I try my hardest these days to put on the weight but not in a bad way: without getting a beer belly.

Ladies love the bigger Jacko?
They love ALL types of Jacko haha.

When was your first season of racing competitively?
2007 was my first year of racing skateboards, I was into slalom back then. 2008 came around and we had Newtons Playground as the first IGSA race of the year, so I went to that and kicked some ass. Some crazy Canadians with green hair showed up to race and they seemed pretty cool, told me about some race in Pender Harbour called Danger Bay and said it would be cool if I came to their hood and raced. So I did. This year will be the first one I’ve missed since (broke my leg ‘n shit).
After Canada, I realised I had a world ranking now, so my sponsor said “this is it bud, time to show em whats up”. So I went around the world racing and did well and came 10th overall for the 2008 season. Stoked.

Were you the only one flying the Ozzy flag?
In 2008 there were a couple of Ozzies ripping around, the rest of the Goldy (Gold Coast) crew were representing too. Corey Leeson was traveling with me on the Hopkin Team, and Steve Daddow, Austin Moncreif, Kevin O’Hara and Jeremey Rodgers were also flying the flag. It was great having an Australian presence there at the races, it was even better to have buddies there from back home to hang out with when I was still fresh and new to the race scene.

Who organises the races down under?
There’s a pretty solid crew of organisers here in Australia. The ASRA crew are what hold the country together as far as skateboard racing. They were the ones who got the first Newton’s Playground happening, and from there built up the scene and connected with skaters around the country with a website to communicate between each other, share photos and organise skate sessions. Its similar to Facebook actually, but for skaters.

What is ASRA?
Haggy Strom is the president. Rad dude from Norway who has been living in Australia for some time, previous Slalom Champion and all around great guy to hang out with. David Robertson (who also works at Hopkin Skate) is another man behind the madness. He has pretty much devoted most of his life to organising ASRA stuff, working on events and bringing the community together. Then you have the big man, James Hopkin, owner of Hopkin Skate. He was one of the first dudes to start sponsoring skaters and events in Australia and helped ASRA get the kick start they needed to get off the ground. Now he is a big part in helping out with ASRA and oragnising events, getting sponsors for the cause and just making sure everyone is doing it right.

What is your local crew called?
Local crew are the Sydney City Bomb Squad. Its kind of funny really, as bomb squad was just the Thursday night sessions we would have in the city back in the day when we were into slashing little side streets and car parks. It turned into a group on the ASRA website and more and more people showed up over time. There was always a core crew who showed up, which was the group of dudes I skate with all the time. Eventually we moved on to spending all our time skating BIG hills and barely go and skate in the city that much anymore. But guaranteed these days if you show up at 6.30 pm every thursday night there will be at least 20 or 30 skaters show up to shred the city, regardless if we are there or not!

How did you land your first sponsor?
Skate, Create, and Wait.
Before I got sponsored I was just doing my own thing, getting involved. Found out myself what events were on and made sure I was going to attend them. Not only that but I always had my camera and filmed EVERY event I went to and put together rad little videos of the cool stuff that happened during the day. Eventually that sorta stuff gets noticed, and as the results started to come in sponsors came after me.

You’re a film-maker?
It’s in my blood I
guess. My dad works in the film biz. He operates cranes, dollys, buids shit and rigs shit off shit. Ive been playing with cameras since I was a tiny grom, filming random stuff and making little vids, well before I got on skateboards. Filming skateboarding and passing the camera between me and my mates was what helped me progress the quickest I reckon. Being able to watch yourself skate and learn from your own mistakes is great.

Tell us more about Mr Hopkin’s shop.
Hopkin Skate is now the biggest skate shop in Oz, maybe even in the southern hemisphere! I still remember the first time I went into the ‘Hop Shop’, it was a tiny little warehouse, a few boards on the wall, two shelves, a mini ramp, a work bench and Hop tinkering away on some slalom boards. He had just said he wanted to hook up a new young and comer and help me out with my skateboarding career, and gave me a few new boards and some slalom gear to take home. I was a stoked grommet that’s for sure. About a year later he said he wanted to build the shop up, and offered me some hours in-store to start building. As time goes on the store grows bigger, and as the sport becomes more popular more products start to come in the doors. Hop is a business man and knows how to sell sell sell, especially when it comes to one of his passions!
Within 4 years, we had outgrown the warehouse we were working out of, and got the place two doors up, which was easily 5 times the size. We still struggle to fit in all the stock.

You work in the shop?
I’ve been an employee there since day one. It was awesome working at the shop, having access to the gear and also the overseas companies. Was a great way to get in touch with other sponsors. When I was out traveling, I was focusing on winning and media production, and when I got home I was working behind the counter at the shop. Now things are growing and we are all moving up. At the moment I’m not spending that much time behind the counter, but instead focusing more on the team and media production for the shop. That way I could balance the time I needed to skate and travel, and also got stuff done for the sponsors. You could say at the moment I’m a 100% full time skater.

Living the dream!
Until you get broken off and are crippled on the couch for weeks! The other boys on the team are Luca Coleman, Rob McWhinnie and his wife Maga, Gabe Gwynne, Ben Hay, Adam Yates, Kelly Carter, Lea Robertson, Deane Panya and also Cooper Cruize. Everyone has their own individual flair they add to the team, it’s a pretty cool, diverse group of skaters, and what’s even better is that we were all mates before we were on the same team. We all skate together and push the limits so it’s just inevitable that one day we are all representing the local shop. And also its rad to have a couple of girls on the crew, they are genuine skaters and really wanna go hard, so its great that we can support them and help them become better at what they love.

Sorry to hear about your leg, how did it happen?
Long story short, I went too fast. A mistake one can easily make! I was riding in New Zealand a few weeks ago, spent a week in Wellington and had just won a race and was about to embark on a 3 week tour of the north island on the N-Tense D-Centz tour. We met up at this really epic volcano road called Mt Ruapehu which had already gotten the nickname Mt Rape-You from previous scenarios. Anyway I’ve been there before and it’s an amazing road to ride. Volcanic road either side of you while you mob down this long wide and fast road. It’s a new world up there, feels like you’re on Mars or something. Ski/hiking area at the top, so in summer the place in pretty deserted, just you and your soul being released down the amazing path before you.
Anyway this time was different, we rocked up and the wind was blowing harder than you could imagine. Was the sorta wind that would blow you off your board if you copped the wrong gust. We did some hella slow runs and were busting mondo pendies the whole way down, as it was blowing tailwind and was just ridiculous to skate. Called it quits and waited for the next day to come round before we could skate. Turned out in the morning the wind had died down a little, but the gusts were still quite strong. If I could do it again I would have said ”fuck it”, and waited till the arvo, but we all know what it’s like standing at the top just wanting to go down! So off I went, super chilled run but it was still fast due to the wind. I came into the first corner section, and tried to go as chilled as I could, but the wind was blowing way too strong, and it was hard to slow down. I came into this long sweeping lefty which you can normally just grip through no probs, but this time I was mobbing way too much speed. To make things worse, just as I came into the turn, a huge gust blew and shot me in way too fast, sending me way off apex and I started to fade wide. From then on it was slow motion, I spotted the exit I had to take as I was drifting wide, and a car was right there!
There was nothing I could do, it didn’t even seem like I was going that fast. I was losing traction and heading right for the car, so last second decision, I kicked my board away and braced for impact and put my leg up, baseball slide into the car to try to absorb the impact. I bounced off the front of the car, didn’t really feel any pain at all at first, then I saw my leg was broken, just above the ankle around the shin. I didn’t have to look at it for long for everything to settle in.
After that I just lay down quietly as the crew behind came to a stop to see if their bud was ok. I didn’t dare to look at my leg at all, just lay there with my eyes closed waiting for the ambo’s to show up with the green pen and take me away to safety. The boys were saying I was there for a good part of an hour waiting for the ambulance, but to me it only seemed like 5 minutes. It’s amazing how you can just leave your body behind when you really need to and go for a little walk about somewhere else while you’re waiting for something so hectic to pass. ‘Mind over Matter’ is a very real thing.

Wow. Did you kick the car into the volcano?
I put a pretty big hole in the grill of the car. It’s just plastic, that shit breaks. But I guess so does my leg. I picked a pretty good car to smash into though, clean break and that was it!

That’s the problem with plastic legs!
Yeah I gotta grow some of those ‘bone’ legs I keep hearing about. Heard they are far stronger! The pain never really settled in, I didn’t let it. Unless I moved, it didn’t hurt, so I shut my brain down and refused to feel the pain. There were far bigger things going through my mind rather than how much it hurt. I was thinking about how I wont be able to race my local IGSA race, and how its going to be the 3rd year watching Newtons from the sidelines, and how I’m going to miss Danger Bay for the first time, and how I won’t be able to do what I love for a few months while I’m all hurt ‘n shit. The pain of getting hurt by something you love so much is far worse than a broken bone.

When did you become a wise Jedi?
You are born with Jedi powers. My Midichlorian level was quite high as a grommet.

You mentioned earlier that you had also hurt your ankle in a previous year, how long were you out for?
Never actually broke bones, but I rolled it awkwardly once and did some ligament damage. Took some surgery and lots of time to heal. Put me out for a solid 4 months. After the surgery I needed a cast, after a cast my leg/ankle had locked up and I needed to teach it to move again, then needed to learn to walk again. It still gives me problems. Its funny though, I rolled my ankle and felt like I sprained it, which then required hectic surgery, a cast, and months of physiotherapy.
Now this time I’ve broken my leg, full compound fracture, needed a skin graft and bla bla bla… but I don’t even have a cast! Was a far cleaner injury than the ankle in the long run that’s for sure. Heal time is going to be easier with this injury that’s for sure.

What is the prognosis for your broken leg?
I’ve got a rod in there now holding my bones together while they heal. 6 weeks post-op I can put weight on it again, which is coming in about 3 weeks, so I’m looking forward to that. Its the usual drill, take it slow and steady, and get hard into the physio to regain lost strength.

How long till you’re back on a hill?
After comparing this injury to the last injury, its easy to say I’ll be racing again by August. Well, that’s what I’m aiming for, and last time I set a goal like that I got it.

Do your scars help you with the ladies?
I don’t need scars to impress ladies.

True: you have your beer belly!
Yes… That and good looks and the rest! Ah who am I kidding, they just want a piece of this big pappa bear! haha

Do you have to pass an aesthetics test to be a Hopkin rider?
You mean like a fitness test? Nah man, if you can keep up with the boys (and girls?) on the hill, and keep up in the pub, then you’re in! You’re even more in on the team if you can do it pub first then the hill!
And of course there are no ugly faces on the team, we’re all strapping young lads! Otherwise whoever picked the cover photos for the profiles were feeling generous while on Photoshop, haha.

What do you do during your downtime?
Troll the internet and do interviews with people over google docs…
Haha nah really, my downtime doesn’t exist. I get too bored. Even when I’m at home doing nothing I’m doing something. Whether it’s working on a video project, or planning another trip, or just hanging out with my mates, there’s always something to do. I get antsy when I don’t feel productive.

What video projects have you worked on and what do you have in the pipeline?
I’ve worked on so many projects its impossible to list them all right now. I’ve been doing videos for all my sponsors, since day one. At the moment I’m working on a video from our trip to New Zealand. Before I broke my leg we got a solid week of shredding Wellington and also covered the Wind Turbine Race they had there. That should be online by the end of April.

Who are these other sponsors?
Back in the day I was riding for Rayne and Orangatang. Also I had smaller sponsors on the side which I would throw in logos for. I did a lot of work with Adam Colton, I met him back in 2008 when I first went overseas. I hung out with him in LA for a day or two. When I was riding for O-Tang we did a few film projects, with me skating and also behind the lens filming with Adam. It’s great working with him, he’s really creative and I’ve learned a lot of tricks from his style of filming skateboarding.

The footbreak for life video is beautiful! The quality of the film-making was amazing and the content was nice satire. Is this the kind of thing we should expect from Jacko’s Couch Productions?
Hahaha, that video was epic. Of course it was put together so well but it was such a funny thing to watch, especially from the o-tang guys. All it takes is an idea, and the creativity to elaborate on that! It shows how creative Adam is when it comes to making a video. Hopefully you will be able to see productions like that coming from me in the future!

Who are your current sponsors?
At the moment I’m sponsored by Hopkin Skate, Sector 9, RAD wheels, and Risch helmets. I’ve moved on from Munkae trucks and I’m riding Aeras at the moment, and you could say I’m sponsored by Venom in a way. Ages ago I asked Zak if he would hook me up, he said yep and paid for the patch on my suit and then forgot about it from then on. I didn’t really mind coz I get free bushings from the shop anyway, and Venom are rad bushings so I dont mind having the patch on my suit!

When did you get on the Sector9 team?
At around 2010 I was starting to assess my situation and wanted to go for the big boys, so I just asked the guys at Sector 9 if they wanted an Ozzie on their team, showed them what I had to offer and they said yep. I stayed with o-tang for a bit because they helped me get to where I was, but in the end they started blowing it big time and I peaced out and by half way through 2011 I was riding for Sector 9 full time.

What is a RAD wheel?
RAD (Rider Approved Designs) is a new wheel company, coming out very soon! Or by the time you read this. Louis Pilloni knows his stuff, and has created a new sick style of wheel for racing and
riding. So far the best wheels I’ve ever ridden, I would chose to ride them even if they didn’t sponsor me!

How was last season for you?
Last season was the best one so far. I achieved so much and made so many personal goals happen. I managed to get to the podium at Danger Bay where I came second. That was magic, it is the race I wanna win the most, the hardest race in the world. I battled hard and made it through. Kevin Reimer was on fire and killed it, he won for the 2nd time. A few days later we raced Jake’s Rash, same hard competition, this time in the rain. I made it to the finals again, and got 3rd. After this followed more traveling and many more good results. I got 2nd at Kozakov before traveling and racing in Europe: 4th in Verdicchio, then over to Canada again with a 4th at Winsport, then to South America where I got 5th at Tarma, then raced Teutonia (holy crap what a hill!), then I got a 3rd in South Africa at Hot Heels. Overall I came 3rd in the IGSA rankings, just a few points behind Dalua in the #2 spot.

Congratulations! What was the highlight for you?
First, coming 2nd at Danger Bay was the highlight, then I topped it off by making the podium a few days after. I remember sitting in the van on the way back to Vancouver after Jakes Rash just thinking about how epic that was, how I’ve been to these races so many times before and just gotten hella spanked by all the crazy talent that’s out there at the moment, and have looked at all the winners and thought to myself “I want that”, and then I had it, or at least came pretty fucken close to it and that was good enough!
That and going down Teutonia, that was something I’m never going to forget!

What are your plans once you’re mobile again?
Well first thing is to get mobile, get my leg working again. Then I’ve got to get fit and strong again. I had this huge trip planned this year to take on the world again and skate hard. Now I’m having to cut it in half and will only get a small shot at the world title. Plan of attack is to be solid by August so I can race at the World Championships, then head down to South America and then race in South Africa. If my maths serves me correctly I can still be in the running for the World Cup title if I attend all these races.

Best of luck to you bro!
Thank you sir, good things come to those who wait.

Choose 3 numbers between 1-25
7. 15. 21

7 – What is your favourite cheese ?
non blue-vein Cheese

15 – What colour is your helmet?

21 – Would you pick the red or blue pill?

Haha thanks a lot for your time bro. It has been a lot of fun talking to you, get well soon.
If you’re in ozzie, make sure to get your way over to Hopkin Skate in Sydney. Biggest shop in Oz and rad place to hang out and meet new skaters!