Arno VDV, international Mountainboard superstar, drops in

Arno Van den Veyver is officially one of the planet’s best freestyle mountainboarders, taking (amongst other accolades) the World Championship title at Night Air in 2007. His effortless, flowy, playful pro style is an inspiration to anyone who sees him ride and you’d recognise him instantly from one of his laid-back, super tweaked backflips. You may also have read some of his tales in back-issues of ATBmag, been taught to ride by him at Wanyi Park, or even just wondered what the VdV stands for! We asked the Belgian legend all about it and present an awesome collection of some of his finest photographic moments…

Wassup Amo!
What you been doing today?
I signed my contract as a handyman in the local school today:) Oh yeah and I went freeriding alone with my dog. Normally I don’t ride by myself but couldn’t resist… saw some fairies riding snozberries.

Snozberries eh?! 🙂 You’re a truly dedicated European rider, well known for your incredible freestyle, permanent smile, and being one of Wanyi’s biggest exports. What’s the scene like in Belgium these days?
It seems like there’s a whole new wave of young riders coming up (again) and they’re making me feel old. Most of the old crew have stopped riding like Rudy, Stijn, Sharp,…. but there’s a whole new excitingly talented crew of young and (not so) old magicians.

 Always good to hear there’s the next wave coming through though…
How did the Belgian Open go this year? last year it was coupled with the BFC’s Cream Teas & Jam…
This year was a little less organised as an official comp but it had a really cool vibe. The guys altered the big-air landing to a superwide beast and everyone helped taming it. We all had the greatest evening shred with Beebs and Grizz leaving no man, woman or dog behind and a laid-back night with some russian guy passing out from the Wodka 😉
the next day it was raining and we cancelled the official BX race to have some slide-comps and just chill-out. most of the riders left by noon so we didn’t really have a comp on sunday. It was nice though…

Slide comps seems to have been a theme in 2010!
Wanyi Park has a rep as a laid-back, super-cool centre. When did it all start and how did you get involved?
It all started in the summer of 2002 when i was working in a skateshop when some guy came round to introduce mountainboarding and asking if we would sell his gear. I said that i wanted to try it first and the next day i fell in love with our beautiful sport. The guy was part of a little organisation called mountainboard.be and they organised their first event on a slope in the Ardens. I got more hooked and everyone was just such a friendly and crazy bunch, it made me love it more and more. I got my own board and started hanging out with the crew and they let me ride cheaper if i did some work for them. After a couple years the slope where the events were organised got sold and we had to find an other venue. I left to the uk to prepare for the Atbmag/EXIT tour in ‘05 and by the time we passed through Belgium, Wanyi park was already born. The cool vibe is one of the most important things I find, we try to give everyone who comes to ride or hang out a good feel of how mountainboarding really is and taste the personal freedom of life without any pre-judgement.

Word. Is it the law that if you work there, at some point you have to grow dreads? Lol 😉
Hahahaha- actually the only one with locks is my girlfriend at the moment.
I cut mine off right after xmas 08, dunno why…

So what set-up / wheelieboard are you riding at the mo?
a black one 😉
Trampa 17ply 35° long, black/white vertigo trucks, black/white superstar hubs and the white Trampa ratchet bindings with Trampa heelstraps.
I ride only Trampa gear ya’know 😉

Yep! If you could design your own board, what would the tech be like?
Out of space man-it would be connected to pacha mama, for real…

And being into drawing, graf & art & stuff what would your graphics be?
Just tags, throwies and outlines in different typos, or something designed by Wil or the aerosolkids(.be). Actually, yesterday I was thinking of drawing the manes of a lion on the top off my deck. and the day before i was thinking of getting the top view of a horse on it.
I guess I’ll just have to have a series:) or just like a decal you can pick when you buy my board.
Actually… i just did some one-line doodling on my deck and i’m pretty pleased with it 🙂

Yeah man that’s totally sweet! Molotow paint pens r cool… You should design a sticker sheet that gets given away with new Trampa’s 😉
Anyway; before 8” wheels, you came from a skating background…
Yeah, I got given my first skateboard when I was 3yrs old and I dragged it along like a toddler does with a blanket. Growing up i kept playing with it…


When did you start really travelling to ride your bigger-wheeled board?

I did my first international event in Amsterdam, january‘03. I had just started riding, had my first board (a kheo flyer) and we got the chance to come over and participate. That’s when i first met (ATBmag photographer) Paul Taylor and the likes of Jason Lee, Leon Robbins, Jeremy Leafe, Diego Anderson, Alex Broumbas and so many more.
After that Maarten and the guys from mountainboard.be always gave me the chance to go ride at least one comp a year abroad

Did these first trips inspire you to ride more & do comps?
Yeah man, there’s so much experience to gain from travelling to ride a comp somewhere with other people and different locations.
Road trips rule!
The way you move your board about is like buttering on a snowboard… How has snowboarding influenced your wheeled riding?
Actually, I really started mountainboarding as a substitute for snowboarding. Snowboarding is expensive and you’ll need snow for that. I noticed from the beginning that mountainboarding was the perfect summer training for snowboarding so i just tried to copy what they do on snow.

It worked. Also, You used to write for and regularly featured in ATB mag, even appearing on the cover (sep 04, issue 26)…
Yeah man, those were the days. I miss doing that. I’m dying to go out and shoot with a good photographer/cameraman again so i can get some good shots again, i’ve got so many spots in my book right now…

Man we need to get Dirt-Monkeys out there! The big ramp demos always made pretty epic shots too, like The Town & Country festival ’04 when that cover shot was taken by PT…
Town and country was craaaaaaazy-we just had such a good session all together (ATBmag promoted, graf by Wil, with fellow riders including Tom, Poom, Renny, Joe D, Jack Chew, Leon Robbins & Kody Stewart).

I remember my first drop-in on the big ramp, Chewy had never done it b4 either and we both got up to the top. Chewy drops in, has a major speed-wobble and slams, what appeared to us, head-first into the landings’ scaffolding. luckily he managed to put his arm up just in time and he walked away with only some bruises. After that i had to drop in too- scared as!! I had a couple tries dropping in and missing the ramp but got over the scare after my 2nd try and we had a great session.

Amo @ T&C:

Another cool memory was Hogmanay ‘04 but that’s a different story 😉

Oh yeah? we’ll have to ask ATC… 😉
The ATBmag demos led on (mid-noughties) to being a member of the Team Exit crew, alongside Tom K, Alex Downie, ‘Bomber’ Morrison, Ig Wilkinson & Laurie ‘Beast’ Kaye…

Yeah- riding with them was awesome!!! We shared so much cool memories and places. I miss sessioning with them…

Then came the legendary Exit/ATBmag European tour of 2005, driving round Europe for 3 months in a graffed-up bus called ‘Fanny’, starting at the Belgian open, taking in demos, comps & glaciers on the way, and finishing in Portugal. What are your standout memories from this time?
Uhm… you got my head going and I just keep getting all these cool flashbacks. guess the whole tour. The skatepark in the open-air mine (Hypnoz), French open in Bareges, cabin fever in Loge des Gardes, BMW Bikepark, LesDiablerets, The Koster demo Truck and place, riding red-rocks till sunset and finishing my last run on that rock into the sea to see where that sun goes down, Graffing With WIL, the flowrider in that german swimming pool… Ollies birthday, Igs’ birthday, Maisies birthday, chewy with us, fannybus (miss you girl), fatigue paranoia on the Portugese border, the German police stopping us thinking we’re smuggling drugs and hearing them say when they enter our smelly fanny:”ooooaaahwaaaah, what a smell!!! they won’t be smuggling drugs there…”, tire blow-outs, brake failures,…

Every moment was a special one. Except the fact that my knee got infected in Barèges wich put me out for the last 3weeks of the tour!!!!

  

Ah, crazy times 🙂
So at the World Freestyle Championships 2007, you took first place! How did it feel?
As a total Surprise!! actually, after hearing 3rd and 2nd getting announced I ran up to Pavel Dunaev to congratulate him on his win. I hear everyone shouting and screaming and looking in our direction and Rudy starts shaking me shouting that i’ve won. I couldn’t believe it!!
Actually, I never really liked that title until now. I just started to realise that it could come handy to open doors to opportunities.

Signing to Trampa must have been cool too…
Yeah, Ted is like a father to his team and we’re all good friends. Ted gave me a lot of stuff and financed me touring through Europe again. I owe him a lot and feel bad that I haven’t ridden in the UK for him for the last two years. Life caught up with me a bit and I am trying to get it sorted before I can go again.

And we can’t wait to see you over here again 🙂 What is it about competitions that draws you in most? The people, the fun, the riding, or something else?
A cocktail of those 3. Mostly having fun riding with different people.

Your flips are so stylish it hurts and the playful. The jibby nature of your riding is very inspiring. What keeps it fresh for you?
Sometimes it’s doing big stuff and sometimes it lies hidden in the tiniest things and places, riding a certain line or just being somewhere. I found a new joy in freeriding and it clears my head when i go out riding by myself and just cruise.

Know what you mean. What’s your fave trick to pull, the one that feels effortless and fun whenever you do it?
BS 180 and just a plain ollie. nose roll variations at the end off any line.

Your rails are also smooth as you like…
I just love doing them

It shows. Do you reckon being tall ‘n’ lean helps your riding style?
Nope, it makes it harder to spin, grab or tweak. It makes me catch more wind in racing also… 😉

 

 

 

Photo courtesy Pavel

The double-backflip attempt at your recent demo in Moscow was sick, so nearly landed…
Yeah, the first one was the best one but I fell off still. It needs a steeper landing for it to work.

Are you going to nail it do you think?
I think I’d need to build a jump just for that trick.

Where else did you ride & what did you get up to on that trip?
We didn’t ride that much besides the skatepark and a little session in Victory Park. There was a massive heatwave and smog alert so we couldn’t do much besides chilling and hanging out… did go to see some crazy places tho..

Always do…! How do mountainboard centres differ from country to country?
The way things are run, I guess.

Yeah you’re right- it’s down to people as well as the big piles of dirt.. Riding with buddies is obviously important to you, being part of many crews along the way (like Herbal Riders). What is it about riding with your homies?
Well I’m the one and only Herbal Rider left =,(

For me a session with homies is the best session, you give each other energy, play games and ride more.

Mountainboarders are like a family sometimes…
Scratch that ‘sometimes’ out.
WE ARE FAMILY

Like Sister Sledge? lol So how have you found sponsorship, from Team Exit through MBS to Trampa?
I just flowed into it I guess, first Mountainboard.be and after Amsterdam ATBmag, and then a bit of MBS, Team Exit in ‘05, back to MBS and on to Trampa in 2007…

Do you ever feel pressure when ‘performing’ at demos n comps?
Only when they announce me as former Freestyle champ. It sorta takes my fun away.
I love riding in demos and comps because those are the best sessions, everyone gives that little extra and pushes each other to higher levels of riding.

And how does that compare to freeriding- it actually sounds similar?
Freeriding for me is about the Freedom and being in nature.

Tell us about any of your most memorable freeride mountainboard sessions…
Ok. There’s a centre that we helped starting up in the beginning of mountainboard.be, before wanyi park, but the owners’ a right cunt. so here we are at this centre’s opening weekend and we got told that we weren’t allowed to powerslide. hahaha, riggggggggghhhhhhhhhhtttttttt….. round 4 o’clock there was a big cloudbreak right above the centre so the centre got flooded… There was a big old terril (slag-heap) really close to where we were which i was dying to hit up one day- I convinced the guys to go and check it out. When we got to the top of it we could see like 5 storms all around but they were still pretty far away. It was such a cool vibe, a sunset with 5 storms around us, all the close friends together… we had the greatest session riding down and it felt like ages till we got down. it all just felt really Epic… 🙂

So what are your plans for the next year or 2?
I’m setting up a little project to teach mountainboarding to the kids down here. would be cool to be able to make a daytime living out of it. Maybe get a little place to shape a park. 🙂

Sweet… As we wrap-up, any advice for newbies just getting into riding?
Take it easy, wear protection and don’t forget to have fun.
Oh yeah, come round mine to have a session.

And while you’re here, can you tell us your secret of sweet rotating?
Superprocessors and computerchips

Ahhhh! Well, you must have loads of shout outs to make, so get busy!
Maarten and Jeroen, Trampa Ted, ATBMAG J and Anni, the Team Exitgang, ATC(yes the belgian one too–they’re called AppelTaartCrew wich means Applepie crew), OneLove boardshop, MSK, ASK, RizeOne, Miluci, Car-MineTrampa Ninjas, My girlfriend and our dog, French massive, Russian Massive (Спасибо!!!), all the riders all over the world, you guys/girls rock!!!

And finally, the random remolicious questions…
Bring it on!

How big does a mountainboard have to be before it becomes the first mountainboard bus?
If there’s a kingsize fanny on it!!!

How many pairs of shoes do you own?
I think I have about 5 and 2pairs of slippers

What about sunglasses?
I’d love some good ones, I just use the ones that I find

Last film you loved?
Pleasantville

Day job?
Handyman in the local schools–don’t laugh :p

Tyre colour?
Black with sparkles and neon

Egg shocks or TrampaDampas?
Trampadampas

Coffee or tea?
Splosh

Sunrise or sunset?
Both on the same day

Halloween or Firework night?
I don’t like dressing up so firework night

Dreads or braids?
A ponytail

Pirates or ninjas?
Ninjapirates

Green or brown?
Green maing!

Wan line or multple lines?
Wanline massiv!

Mutant elbow or giant knee?
Mutant elbow-you’ll still be able to ride with that

Seagulls are sky-rats. So what are rats?
Earthgulls

Belgium?
What?

Any good places to eat round here?
Meadows

We’re there 🙂 Amo Nation, you’ve been a star. Thankyou very muchly indeed.
Big Thanks also to photographers: Paul Taylor, Paul Crilley, Andrey Yenin, Alexey Potatov, Theo Acworth, Dan Wilson

 

And finally, here’s a couple of vids!

Find out more about Wanyi Park at mountainboard.be here