Hailing from a small town in Southwest Germany, Jo Lorenz grew up skating with his brother. He came up through the European contest circuit, did well in some World Cup events, and produced a banging part for the Rise Up video. After Jo was diagnosed with a hip problem, he made lemonade by turning it into an advantage for switch and nollie skating. Jo has amazing pop and a really positive personality. Keep an eye out for this free-spirited, nature-lovin’ gypsy coming soon to a campfire near you.
Where are you originally from?
A small town called Schopfheim in the Black Forest region of Southwest Germany. It's 20 km from Basel, Switzerland and the French border.
How and when did you start skating?
I started skating in the summer of 1992, when I saw a kid from the neighborhood doing ollies and I was hooked from that day on. Since then, my brother and I were always out there skating everywhere.
What kind of board did you start on?
The first skateboard I could call my own was a Jason Jesse with the Jesus graphic, Venture trucks and Mini-Rat Bones. My brother and I shared one board in the beginning, which was a Tony Hawk double tail with the Toe Knee Hawk graphic, San Diego trucks and black Rat Bones. I can also remember the Bridgebolt screws.
Did you start out skating in the streets or at a skatepark?
We grew up on the streets. At that time, I didn’t even know that people were building obstacles especially made for skateboarding.
Who were you skating with at first?
My older brother and that neighborhood kid who got us hooked.
Were there any early influences on your skating? Who did you look up to?
Well, first of all, it was that neighborhood kid that could do Ollies and Varials. Then I saw the H-Street Hokus Pokus video with Frankie Hill, Sal Barbier, Ray Barbee and Matt Hensley. Those were the skaters I looked up to back then, and actually still do.
Do you enjoy skating in contests and demos?
It depends. Over the years I've got to know so many people and made friends at contests. It's more like meeting your friends and having a good time skating together than just skating the contest for yourself! What I don’t like is the competition vibe where people compare each other’s skating. So, most of the time, I just enjoy skating contests and demos with my friends.
How could contests be improved?
It's hard to give a recipe, but I really like those contests where skaters make a team and skate together. I like the Wild in the Streets-type of contests, as well. More of those would be sweet.
What do you like about being able to make some money from skating? What’s not so cool?
It's cool to turn a passion and a hobby into a kind of job. But as soon as that happened, I also realized there's pressure sometimes that can take away the spirit and fun from skating. So, it is important for me to have something else to concentrate on to keep my life balanced. And as long as I have that balance, I can do my job professionally without losing the spirit. When I'm out there skating, I still have that magical feeling I got when I Ollied the sidewalk for the first time. Another cool aspect for me is traveling. It gave me the chance to get around and see so many different places and cultures, which I could take advantage of for personal development. I am more than thankful for that!
What do you think of skate videos these days?
It got to be an important instrument for the skateboarding industry, some kind of indicator for a company’s reputation. For me, the level of skateboarding in it is not the most import thing, though! It takes way more than that to make a really good skate video. Nowadays, most of the people judge only its level. I do like to watch a skate video once in a while. They keep me up-to-date, and I m curious to see my buddies’ parts.
Do you enjoy filming video parts yourself?
Yes, I do. I feel under pressure under deadlines sometimes, but all in all, touring and skating together is fun. And it’s in your own interest to give your best to get a nice part done. Once you have finished your part, you can always look at it again, even after years.
Do you skate vert ramps or bowls?
Not too much. I grew up on the streets and never had the chance or possibility to skate vert or bowls. I do whenever I can, and I enjoy myself while skating any kind of terrain.
Do you skate backyard pools?
Never actually in someone's backyard .
What do you think of the skateparks in Europe?
Compared to California and the rest of the USA, we have less skateparks over here. But they are building more and more, and are improving, I guess. And the ones we have are pretty good.
Should skateparks copy real street spots like MACBA or have more trannies?
I prefer the copy versions rather than trannies. But the original street spot will always be something more special, plus streetlife flair can't be copied!
What do you like about Emerica?
Besides the designs of shoes and clothing, I like their whole philosophy of staying true to themselves and keeping a straight line for the last couple of years.
Which Emerica shoe do you like most?
For the last five years, I have been skating the Miner and the Major, because they are a little higher and keep my ankles more stable. For going out, I really like the B.Herman and all of the Reynolds designs because they are very comfortable and just good-looking. Keep it sweet!
Who do you skate with now?
I skate with my brother, Oli Buergin, all of my friends from and around Basel, and, of course, with my Emerica and Element teammates.
Who are your favorite skaters of all time?
Ray Barbee, Pat Duffy, Mike Carroll, Marc Johnson and Andrew Reynolds, just to name a few.
What have been the highlights of your skateboarding career?
Getting eleventh place at the Grand Prix 2000 in Lausanne, Switzerland and fifth place at the World Cup 2004 in Dortmund, Germany. Winning the qualification at Mystic Cup 2004 in Prague, Czech Republic. Being motivated on all of the tours and trips, skating unique spots and getting to know different people and cultures!
What do you enjoy besides skating?
Spending time together with my friends, family and girlfriend, talking and learning about life, playing guitar, reading books, swimming, smiling, sightseeing and shopping.
What are your future goals?
To keep my motivation, stay healthy and not get hurt. To find a place and a fulfilling job in the skateboarding business where I can combine my love, talent and experience with a future job.