French Canadian vert master Pierre Luc Gagnon has been on a winning spree this year after racking up firsts at the Dew Tour's season opener, Maloof Money Cup and the X Games. We caught up with him right before he faced off against Shaun White in the finals of the Dew Tour's Wendy's Invitational to get his thoughts on his competition, his private vert ramp, and whether we'll see him trading back-to-back tricks for lines and grinds on concrete.
You've been unstoppable so far this year, what's been your secret?
I've just been skating a lot during the winter. We got Monster Energy Drink to build us a private ramp with DC Shoes, so I've been there every day just skating. I've just felt good about my skating. I spent a lot of time working on all my tricks and I guess I was ready when the contest season started. Bucky, Shaun, Bob and Andy are all putting a lot of pressure and they're all skating really good, so that definitely pushes me to skate even better. That's just the way it goes. When people are skating good, it makes everyone skate better.
What are you doing with all the prize money?
I haven't really had time to spend it so far. But I did buy a photo/video camera. I bought a Canon 7D and I've been learning photography and filming and stuff. It's pretty cool.
Pierre rocking his new Canon 7D
How did the photography interest come about and is it just a hobby or something more?
I was always bummed out going on trips. I went to China twice this year, once for the Woodward Grand Opening. The first trip, I didn't have a camera, and I was like, "What was I doing?" So then I went home and I bought it. The second time I went to China was for Asian X Games so I took a bunch of photos and I just wanted to start getting into it. Plus, we're always around photographers and it's easy to get tips and pointers from them. When I'm old and can't compete or skate anymore, I'll be able to shoot photos of whoever is shredding at the time.
PLG on his way to winning the Dew Tour’s Wendy’s Invitational
If you were to win another Dew Cup this year how would that compare to getting Gold at X Games or winning Maloof?
They're all pretty big accomplishments, but one of the cool things about the Dew Tour is that it's not just a weekend where you were hot and landed everything and everything went well. It's more of a season’s worth of accomplishments. It's four stops, and you have to be consistent throughout the whole season. You can't really be good, and then get worn out or start partying. It's definitely longevity more than a weekend thing.
What vert ramp have you been riding the most lately?
Lately, I actually haven't really been riding our ramp because I've been traveling. So I've been riding this Dew Tour ramp. Then there was a version of this ramp at X Games, and another version of this ramp at Maloof Money Cup, and now I'm riding here. Then in between, I got to go ride my ramp once in the last month, and then skated Tony Hawk's ramp a little bit. Tony's ramp has a similar design to the Dew Tour ramp, so it's good to get ready on. Our private ramp is so complex, there's so many obstacles and crazy things on it, that sometimes it's almost too much to get ready on that ramp for an event like this.
PLG racking up his second Maloof win this year
Which vert ramp do you consider the best you've ever skated, and why?
The one we built is definitely the most advanced as far as being creative and original because it has all sorts of obstacles on it that have never been built or skated before. So I feel like we're definitely pushing the progression of vert skating with that ramp.
The private Monster/DC Vert Ramp and one of the many obstacles below, right
So it's a perfect ramp to go there and film and get footage. Because the flat walls, at some point, you kind of get bored with them because it's always the same. So if you've got all sorts of new obstacles, that opens up a whole new bag of tricks.
What do you think about having Shaun White back in the mix of competitors?
He's definitely skating good. I was watching prelims and his runs were pretty awesome and he goes big. And the media loves him.
Is his presence pushing you harder or do you think it might be the other way around with your current winning streak?
I think it's pushing everyone. I think the way we all skate is pushing him because he doesn't want to show up and look bad. And he's skating good too so that's pushing us, because, hey, we don't want to let the snowboarder win. It could be a good thing too because a lot of his snowboard fans might get into vert skating, where maybe they wouldn't if he wasn't there.
PLG at Maloof
Rune and Bucky have made bowl skating a focus, do you see yourself taking the same path?
I was actually thinking about that but I have a little bit of catching up to do. Those guys are pretty good. But Bucky's got a bowl in his backyard and I started skating there a bunch this winter. Then I stopped going when all the vert contests started. But it's definitely a new challenge and something really fun to skate. It's definitely different though than skating vert. It's a lot more about the lip tricks and lines and less about airs and technical stuff. You kind of have to readjust the way you skate for bowl skating. A lot of the tricks you do on vert are really hard to do in a pool just because it's all round walls. Pool skating is more about the lines and grinds and less just back-to-back tricks.
Check out the video below of Pierre before he competes at the Wendy’s Invitational in August