J.B. Gillet, the French Wizard

There are a lot of smooth operators out there, too many to even start naming.  They all have their signatures, the textbook in their own way, the sleepwalker in their own way, the undeniably smooth, the wacky but legit, the floaters and gliders, the combinations.

The first taste I ever had of J.B. Gillet was in the New Deal ’97 Promo.  That was probably the second mainstream(for what it was in ’97) industry video I had in my possession.  The video was wild to me, Matt Milligan opening with that ledge line to some mellow jazz, hitting rails, gaps, quick lines and those fakie grinds and slides.  Neil Urwin next, his smooth skating and perfectly executed tricks to “Son of a Preacher Man.”  Then J.B. with the last part before the montage and credits.  Milligan and Urwin had great parts, but there was a reason J.B. Gillet had the final part, the only reason I knew he was regular was from that switch mongo, which even switch mongo haters can’t deny, he makes look smooth and won’t change because of opinion.  His ambidextrous skating, flip in ability, switch and regular.  Those long controlled grinds.  The epitome of smooth and early legend in the textbook trick handling club.

I bought videos because he had a trick or two in them, he nailed every trick with such solidity.  He skates everything too.  Flip into a grind or slide, or a flip out, transition, flat, (city)rails, ledges, no one could dislike seeing a photo, sequence, clip or video part of J.B.

Just to see a grind or gap from him, let alone a line or full part, was a blessing.  Smooth and solid, he hits ledges hard, but does so with grace and light feet.  He has that heavy hitter factor and aggression to his effortless style, he always locks in, holds grinds and slides with authority.  J.B. glides like a boss.  He handles awkward tricks with textbook style, Puleo-spots like it’s a well-designed skate park.  His trick selection and choice of lines is always on point.

You can feel the groove in his truck growing and marks on his nose and tail building with every trick he lands.

You watch footage and the slight imperfections here and there add such character, like Gino.  J.B. holds true so much of what street skating is, what skating is as a whole, dude can skate ledges like Smolik and still bust Madonnas well above the lip of transition.  J.B. Gillet is among the long list of many who are undeniably the skaters’ skater.  Like Mariano or Howard, or Pete(and Justin) Eldridge, a clip of them having their first warm up run of the day on mini would satisfy our hunger for their influence and flow.

J.B. Gillet can never retire, his style and way he rides leaves no room for innovation in smoothness, only replication, like the next Penny, or MJ, J.B., someone can only be the next him, or hybrid of.


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