JB Gillet – Cliché Freedom Fries (2004)
He could have would have should have ridden for Chocolate Skateboards.
Instead he chose to ride for World Industries which was rebranding itself with two cartoon characters and catering to a next generation of skatepark groms. JB Gillet transferred over to Deca then Artefact and then nothing. An unfortunate Visa situation had the Frenchman banned from the USA for 5 years and sent home to France where he floated around sponsorless yet still very much a master of his skateboard.
It wasn’t until 2003 that JB resurfaced with an incredible cameo during Lucas Puig’s showstopper debut in Cliché’s Bon Appetit. Fans of JB’s tech precision and switch frontside flick and catch rejoiced. The seeds were sown and the following year JB took up residence with Cliché Skateboards officially closing out Freedom Fries with the last part.
JB Gillet is a natural on a skateboard. Ever since his early days skating the mini ramp at La Piste in Lyon, France, he caught the attention of Powell Peralta and then New Deal who were quick to sponsor him as he impressed the judges at the Munster Amateur World Championships. A chance encounter with SF Dave in Lyon during the mid-Nineties had JB cross the Atlantic and settle in the Sucka Free City for a few weeks. It only took a few weeks and few sessions at landmark spots like Wallenberg, Black Rock and Pier 7 for the California cool crowd to recognise JB as an elite individual. The offer to ride for Chocolate Skateboards was on the table yet somehow fate had other plans.
With that history lesson complete, let us concentrate on JB’s resurgence in Freedom Fries. The buttery smooth street skills are on display as JB cruises around his local playground, Hotel De Ville and still finds new ways to slide and grind the heavily sessioned ledges. JB aims for the tops of benches rather than the more traditional lower levels.
Always innovating but never over compensating, JB is a master at adding an extra twist of difficulty to a simple trick. The frontside pop shove it to frontside 5-o frontside revert is a good example. He also demonstrated dexterity and balance as he rides across and into sloped ledges and walls, a terrain that was unique and not for the unexperienced.
As the would be titles close the show, the screen begins to skip and shake as a techno beat opens a sequence set in an alternative universe where the skater is static and the spots move. A manual pad, a ledge, a traffic cone all roll in JB’s direction as he manages to ollie, kickflip, manual, grind and revert every obstacle. It is an original skit dreamt up by master lensman Fred Mortagne who knew that JB was the only man for the job. Nobody else has the agility and flow to maintain a legendary status over multiple decades and generations.
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