Interview with Jonathan “Jono” Schwan
Interview by Tony Gazzana from Coffee Exchange in Colorado Springs, CO.
August 7, 2012 at Woodward Skate Camp in Pennsylvania
Whats up, Jono? How are things at Woodward so far?
Well, they lost my luggage, so I am watching everyone else skate and hanging by the go-karts. My boards are in Washington!
Man, that sucks!
Yeah, but it’s cool.
I just want to thank you for doing this interview at such short notice and over the phone.
Thank you for asking me. This will be great.
Where are you from?
Everywhere. I lived in Africa, Ireland and before I moved to Colorado Springs, I was living in Australia.
When did you start skating?
I started skating four years ago, when I was 11.
What got you into it?
Dude, don’t laugh, but I was watching “A Goofy Movie” by Disney and they were skating in it, and I just thought, “I want to do that.” And I did.
That’s rad, I’m not laughing, man. That has to be the most unique reason for someone to start skating, especially someone who rips like you! Was your family supportive of you from the start? Are they still behind what you do?
Totally! My family has traveled the world with me for competitions. My dad just went with me to Rome for a competition and we had a great time!
I have met your mom and dad and they seem way cool. It’s good to see the support they give you and all the skaters in our community! What got you into skating vert ramps?
When I was living in Australia, there was a mini ramp next to the 13-foot vert ramp. While I was learning to skate, I would watch the people on the bigger ramp and know that’s what I wanted to do.
Do you street skate at all, and if so, which do you like more, street or ramps and bowls?
I can eat crap street skating! I can do it, but I would much rather skate the bowl or the skate park or the ramps.
Okay, now I’m laughing. Your bad street skating is like a good day for me! You started a non-profit organization called SK8 STRONG. What prompted that?
When I moved here to Colorado Springs, I didn’t see the same community in skateboarding that I did in the other countries I lived in. We started SK8 Strong with a vision of bringing people together with the same goals and causes; keeping skateboarding fun, safe and enjoyable for anyone interested in the sport.
I know you guys have done a lot for our community in the short time you have been here, and I, for one, thank you. You not only talked Woodward, Denver, into donating their 13 ½ ft ramp along with their mini ramps, but you had the Army drive the ramps to Colorado Springs, and then got the city to donate another huge piece of real estate and concrete to put the ramps on. How did the city react when you approached them for more room at our already huge 40,000 square foot park?
We just asked if we could put the ramps up. Originally, we were going to raise the money to do it. We went to a few city meetings and the city saw the need for more fun stuff and better use of the land they already had set aside. We had more people using skateparks and they saw a need that had to be filled. They actually looked past the money and saw a community coming together to get this done.
We do have a pretty cool skate scene here. What do you think of Colorado Springs and the scene?
It rocks! There is a lot of support and a great community of not only skaters but people that support what we do. The people here are great and the skaters are awesome!
Do you think the City of Colorado Springs and others support skateboarding?
Definitely. They have been so cool to us and what we’re doing. Look at our park!
What would you tell someone who is getting into skating and thinking of skating a vert ramp for the first time?
I know this sounds lame but, you only live once. Try everything! For real! You don’t know when your last day is gonna come, so do it all!
Not lame. I think a lot of us forget that. Where do you see yourself and SK8 STRONG in the future?
Progressing and growing. I want to grow Sk8 Strong from a national organization to international, so we can reach all kinds of people interested in the sport.
When did you start competing?
I started competing four years ago, when I was 11, right after I started to skate.
Damn, that’s cool. You’ve gotta give Goofy credit, for sure! There are a lot of great skaters out there, so who do you look up to or have as a role model?
I really like Bucky and PLG a lot! They look out for the younger skaters and the ones who are coming up in the ranks. They see the future of skateboarding in the new vert skaters and really try and nurture that. It means a lot to me.
OK, so, being only a few years your senior, growing up we didn’t have parks, so we built ramps and skated loading docks, but it wasn’t anything like the big parks we have today. There was a lot of camaraderie being all crammed together on the deck of a ramp or in a parking lot. Do you think that skateparks take away from that or do you see them drawing people together?
I like them all. Ramps, bowls, parks, whatever, I skate them all. It’s good to skate everything. There are so many parks in Colorado, and traveling to them all and being able to skate anywhere is so much fun. I think they’re both great.
You have been in several X Games and other contests and placed very well. This year you did the Big Air and Mega Ramp for the first time. Last year in vert at the X Games you place 3rd. How was that for you? Do you see yourself doing more of the Mega Ramp?
It was AWESOME! It was fun and I totally loved the opportunity to skate the big ramps while I had the chance. I really want to do more of it and want to progress more while the opportunity is there.
What are you doing out at Woodward now?
Skating everything and getting ready to go on the Dew Tour.
You definitely lead a charmed life! I hope they get your boards and luggage to you soon. Thanks again for your time and have fun!
I will, Thanks, Tony.
For more info on Sk8 Strong, go to http://www.sk8-strong.com/
Hometown: Colorado Springs
Favorite Music: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Eric Clapton, Johnny Cash, the Eagles and Epic Mickey theme music
Likes: Skateboarding, snowboarding, guitar, drawing, designing, animating, traveling, photography and making movies.
Favorite TV show: Anything Disney, “Whose Line is It?”, “Mythbusters” and anything Fuel TV.
Favorite Movies: “Step Brothers,” “The DC Movie,” “Elf,” Flip “Extremely Sorry,” “Iron Man,” “Sherlock Holmes,” “True Grit” and “Tron” and anything Disney!!!
Favorite Quotes: “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” – Walt Disney
“Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.” – James Dean
X-Games Big Air (13th)
X-Games Vert (12th)
WCS Rome Vert (3rd)
WCS Rome Bowl (9th)
Vegas Dew Tour Finals – my debut as a PRO (8th)
GFFT Finals (1st)
State Games of America (2nd – bowl, 2nd – vert)
X-Games 16 AM Vert (3rd)
Maloof AM Vert (2nd)
Gatorade Free Flow (2nd)
Sydney Big Day Out Demo
X-Games 15 AM Vert (9th)