Featured Rider of the week: Yvon Labarthe


Our featured rider this week is a super talented skater and video editor. Very unique story about how he got into longboarding. His first board is also the most unusual thing we’ve ever heard of. A reflection of this unique ginger man.

Hey Yvon, how are you doing ?
I’m very well and you ?

Great thanks. Where are you from ?
I’m from Geneva in Switzerland.

When did you start skating ?  
It was in 1999… but before that I was a rollerblader… ;-) (boo!)
I started rollerblading (downhill, street and halfpipe) in 1989, then one day at a downhill contest a guy was showing off on his longboard. He was sliding with one hand on the ground, it was so beautiful! So I decided to start longboarding. I made my first longboard by cutting up an old snowboard and putting three trucks on it… I had a really fun time making it. I quickly realised that three trucks were not enough and the snowboard was too flexy. So I made a four truck board in metal (17 kg). I won my second race with this board and after that all the riders said ”you can’t ride this board anymore, it’s not fair” I set up the board I had won with 2 normal trucks and I finished second in the next race.. My longboarder career had started!

That is crazy, what did you call this contraption ?  
I did not name it, it was just my 4 truck board. I still have it in my basement. When I made it, there were no IGSA rules against, I was able to ride it in races. Coming from the “rollerblading” world my only motivation was winning races. I didn’t know I could have fun with a longboard at this time. I was not really in a good mood for longboarding I think… ;-)

Your first longboard experience was a race ?
After I saw that guy doing  big slides at the race, which was a small contest organised by Big Manu (A famous french guy) in Lausanne. I had a friend who made beautiful longboards, she gave me a test board to take part in the contest. I finished 6th out of 50 guys. And I thought ” it will be fun to make a “real” board to have more grip to beat everybody”… LOL I was really too much in a race mode at this time.

Do you ever go off race mode ?
Now it’s really different. When I ride my longboard, I just wanna have fun, make some good passes and have fair runs. If I can beat the others guy, it’s cool, if not, i’m ok –  if it’s fair. Same for luge and buttboarding. This is why I don’t change my inefficient tuck position! I just want to be comfortable on my board and have fun.

What’s the skating like in Geneva ?
It’s full of really young people 14-18 years old… A small group skate every wednesday I think. The other older riders from Geneva go skating in Lausanne or in the mountain around Geneva sometimes. Actually I don’t go riding too much before and after summer, because I have so much work with my videos and my real work.


What do you do when you’re not skating ?  
Editing videos, watching movies, snowboarding, skiing, mountain biking, climbing, kite surfing and lot of different stuff. I like new experiences. Oh yeah, I started skydiving this year, it’s super intense and smooth at the same time, controlling your body in the air, it’s just like skateboarding, in that if you’re not smooth and relaxed, you get wobbles!

I have been working for post office the last 21 years, they didn’t want to give me my vacation for my summer this year, so I decided to quit my job ! It was a very important  choice in my life. But I got lucky and found a new good job. I will take prisoners from jail to court or hospital for the Police. The good thing, I will get a lot of money, but no big vacation before 2 years.

How will you race next season ?
I will have 6 weeks of vacation, so I will choose the good races where I want to go. I’m sure of one thing, I dont want to miss Kozakov and Peyragudes… and I will trust in my fate for the rest of my choices. Racing is not really important next year, I’m world cup series champion again for street luge, European champ of skateboarding this year… I will be more focused on videos next year, videos with story.

You’re a film-maker ?  
I think you’re the only guy to not know that in the longboard world man ! LOL
Yes, I’m a film maker. Thanks.
It started when I started longboarding actually, I wanted to show to my friends what it’s like to go downhill rollerblading and skating. I try to put the audience in the place of the rider. That was my goal from the beginning when I made the videos. It was not really a big success in 2000.

How has it progressed since then ?
You should tell me ! Lots of people like my videos now. Sometimes I can have a deal with the race organiser, I can pay the gas for my car for the summer when I work for some people now. I make a DVD each year to try to sell to the riders in the races. Last year was a good year, I sold 100 DVD’s… this year, I sold only 30 DVD’s… I dont know why, my DVD’s are getting better and I put some that is not on internet. But, this year was a bad year.

What was different about this year ?
The people were different this year… too much of a small group, I thought the big family died a little bit this year. I felt in a good mood only at the end of summer. Maybe is the pressure from the sponsors, everybody wanting to do their best to honor their sponsors. So people stay more focused on the results and race strategy. I felt it was similar to 10 years ago with some rollerblade guys.

That’s interesting, what events did you enjoy most this season ?
Verdicchio! And KnK was super cool, I didn’t heard really bad story about bad moves in the races. The food was super good (off course it’s Italy), the wine was good. The race organisers are amazingly friendly… it was great to be there.

KNK was good too, because was my first time in Slovenia, and the track was awesome for stand up slides!


We saw your Verdicchio video, congratulations on 3 podium finishes. The narrative was great, what can we expect to see from the ginger ninja next ?
Thank you. I don’t know, ideas come when you don’t expect them. I bought an octocopter to make different shots from the sky. But before I used that I had a lot of footage from this summer in my hard drives to make videos over this winter… I just dont know when I will be able to edit it because filming is more interesting that editing.

We look forward to seeing them. How was the season for you ?
My season was full of traveling! USA (Maryhill) and All Around europe (Germany, Italy, Slovenia and Switzerland).

What was the highlight for you ?
I think it was the trip around Switzerland with the Greener Pastures team.

How did you get involved with that project ?
Last year I rode with Patrick Switzer and we became friends… so he choose me because of our friendship and my different style… Greener Pastures is about different style and good footage around Switzerland.

What is Yvon style ?
I grab stink bug… like I told you before, nobody showed me the good style when I started longboarding, so I rode with this style from the beginning and don’t want change it, because I feel comfortable with my style. My tuck position is strange too, one hand in front and one hand at the back… I was world champion with this style when they create the IGSA world Championships in 2002 at Kaunertal… so I didn’t want change it, because it’s easier to recognise myself on pictures. LOL

Because of your ninja hair ? :p
Because of my special tuck…

What do you call it ?
Everybody says I have the Yvon Labarthe tuck.. Everybody knows me with this tuck and I was the only one to use it at the beginning. A lot of people laughed about it until I was world champion… but now, it’s really ineffective.

Do you feel slower with it recently ?
For sure, if it’s really steep downhill, if i’m not drafting people, I’m slower… but I don’t care now, I just want to have fun, racing is just a good excuse to ride on a closed road.

Aside from the skating, what was your involvement with Greener Pastures ?
At the beginning (first 2 or 3 days) I thought they wanted me to help for filming but finally I understood, Patrick choose me for riding, to be in front of the camera. So it was not easy for me to let go of the camera team, I have a really different approach to filming. So I saw a lot “mistakes” and I was not really happy. But I should trust people as they did an awesome job. but in the end, they needed me to film some special shots like “cable cam” shots, and when I had time, I made 80% of the timelapses in the trip. I love to make timelapses.

Nice. What did you enjoy most about being a part of Greener Pastures ?
The people I met and the experience about this trip. Now I know, we know, a lot of mistakes to not repeat for the next trip if we make a new one like this. The best hill we rode, we didn’t film it. We only rode it one time, because the rain came and we had to change spots… so, next time… ;-)

We look forward to seeing more  from you !
I have a lot of footage in my hard drive but I don’t know when I will have time to edit it…

Maybe when the snow stops you skating so much ?
I wait until the end of april to start skateboarding if I have finished editing all the stuff I have filmed the year before… But last year, I didn’t ride before greener pastures, I was not in a good shape to ride because I had too much editing stuff to do. So Greener Pastures was my first ride last year on my skateboard.

What setup do you ride now ?
Fibretec board (A longer version of the flying pan top mount with a little bit of flex) with GOG trucks and ABEC11 wheels… I like flywheels for sliding and zig zags.

What are your plans for next year ?
Next year, I don’t know which race I can to go because of my new job, I will have less vacation… So I will be more focus on movies, I would like to make a road trip with a real story with a girl crew… I’ve been thinking about it scince GP, but somebody did it before me (endless road summer)… But I still have this project in my head… we will see what happens…

It’s funny you mention that. Last month we spoke to one of the girls who went on the roadtrip and she said she would be up for another summer road trip. If we get a van/crew, are you in ?
The problem is vacation time, I can’t take more than 5 weeks this year and next year….
and not in July and August. But I would be more than happy to film a girls crew around Europe. Actually, we have a big van ready in Switzerland, the GP van is still up and ready to ride… ;-)

Ramon told us all about the Skate van in his interview. Maybe we can have a convoy of vans, boys and girls from ALL AROUND Europe.

Too many people is not good for filming… there were 9 riders in Greener pastures, the crew should be smaller and the riders should be able to ride confortably together, easier to film and better footage…

Didn’t realise there were that many. How many were from Europe?
From Europe, Ramon, Samy and myself… three from Switzerland actually…

Where were the rest from ?
Canada, South Africa and USA.

Just 3 quick questions left. Choose 3 numbers between 1-11
off course 11, 1 and 7. It’s my birthday 11 January…

11 – What’s your favourite sandwich filling ?
Melt cheese, tomato, ham and basilic…

 1 – What do you take with you when you go for a skate ?
Helmet, Gloves, Knee pads and my cameras !

7 – What is your favourite cheese ?
Morbier, this is a french cheese… Or sometimes “Tête de moines” Swiss cheese…

Sweet. It’s been a great pleasure talking to you Yvon, good luck in all your future endeavours. We look forward to sharing more of your great videos with Europe.
Thank you for being interested about an old rider like me. ;-)

I would like to say thank to all my sponsors

GOG trucks
Don’t forget to visit my website to see lot of videos www.yvonvite.ch