Axel has arguably conquered the American dream of professional skateboarder.

May 27, 2024
  • Skateboarding
  • Athletes

It’s sometimes easy to forget Axel Cruysberghs hails from a small town in Belgium.

Now well established and a stalwart of the skate scene in sunny California - Axel has arguably conquered the American dream of professional skateboarder. After leaving the contest scene, despite being an Olympic qualifier, Axel spends his time stacking clips and spending his time on projects he’s passionate about.

Despite his rapid ascent to such dizzy heights – where self-esteem can reach heady if not dangerous levels – Axel is the personification of having his ‘feet on the ground’. His success is a reflection of innate talent and the hard work he puts in.

Where are you right now?

I'm having a second breakfast! I'm at home in LA, and just got home from a bike ride. So I'm just going to eat a bunch. That's what I usually do…

Give us a little background on yourself?

So yeah, I'm, I'm 29 years old. And then I'm from Belgium. And I've been in LA now for a couple years. I just skate! I spend most of my time in LA, although I try and go back to Belgium as much as I can, as my life is pretty hectic with a lot of time on the road. It feels nice to balance it out between Europe and LA.

How does an average day look for you?

I like being busy. I'm not someone that can like sit around at the house or something, you know, I need to move. That's when I'm happy. Most days, I get up pretty early, I go walk with my dog in the morning. And then I'll go skate. It depends, when I was like filming for a part then I'll skate the park, warm up a bit, and then go skate spots.

I still have some energy, I'll try the to a bike ride or something, because I'm really, really into biking – gravel and road . I'll try to do like three to four rides a week in between skating, I’ll then come home and walk the dog again at night. So that's my day!

How does it feel to be a European Skater making it in the US?

I feel like now more than ever, it's a way easier, because social media and the world being a lot smaller. I feel like back in the day, it was harder, because I think now you can live anywhere you want. And you can be a pro skater. Before, you had to come out here, so people would see you around and you would be more relevant – when I moved here eight or seven or eight years ago, and that was maybe at the cusp of that you didn’t need to do that. But for me, it always made sense to come, I always enjoyed it here!

It’s not that I don't like living in Belgium, but it’s a lot easier to skate here - there's always someone to skate with. In Belgium there’s just not many other pro skaters - most people are just working and going to school and so can only skate on wekeends. So you're mostly just on your own. So that's another reason why I wanted to come this way - and the weather, actually – the weather is great.

What it’s like to be on Vans with your wife?

It's nice, because sometimes we get to do trips together, which obviously is super fun, I'm really happy with it. And I get to skate her shoe, which is pretty crazy, too. You know, aside from my own shoe it’s really the only shoe I skate. When it first came out, it was so different than all the other shoes I had skated – I found it a little hard to skate in.

And now I'm just like, shit - I love this shoe!

What have you been working on recently?

I just dropped the part that I was filming for a year, basically which dropped at the same time as my colorway. That has been my main focus. I just wanted to make something that I was like really happy with and that takes time – Vans were super free and easy as to how I wanted to do it and were happy for me to do my thing. I really enjoyed working on it, and I think it shows in the part, I'm really happy on how it came out.

And then also in the past couple months I've filmed a small part for the new toy machine video. I want it to be very fresh and new. So I've just been filming the past couple months for that video - I think it worked out so I'm really excited to see it.

How would you describe the dynamic of the Vans skate team?

I think we have a great thing going with Vans Europe. Everybody's so different but we all fit together so well. It’s all really fun, everybody skates so hard but also has such mellow personalities. It’s a really tight group, the group text is fire - it's always going off. I feel our friendship and close knit dynamic shows through the videos – it’s plain to see.

How was growing up in Belgium?

Growing up in Belgium was pretty mellow. I lived in a super-small town called Poperinge. So all I would do was go to school, and do all kinds of stuff in the street. There were barely any cars passing by and we could hang out there, play soccer, ride our bikes. That’s when I picked up skating. We started skating the street, and then you just had to cross a road and you were at the skate park. So that’s all I would do at the time. If I wasn’t at home or at school, I was at the skate park. It was a tiny outdoor shitty skate park: basically plastic ramps on concrete. Now it’s a new park, but I grew up skating the shitty park. At first we had these wooden ramps that had metal plates at the bottom so it was a struggle to just get on the ramp. If you were too heavy, or too much on the nose you would get stuck. Then we had the plastic ramps. And that was a big upgrade for us!

Outside of skating, What gets you fired up?

Biking and hiking! We go on hikes with Lizzie and my dog - we go to the mountains a lot. Biking a lot, too - I love it and it makes me feel much stronger on the board – I feel stronger than ever For so many years, as long as I can remember, it was only skating, but then you get to an age where you do need other things to get excited and also to take care of yourself - I feel like the biking really helped me out there.

How does the Skate Scene in LA compare to Europe?

I feel the European skate scene now is really strong - a lot of people are looking at European skating right now. The European scene is so diverse in itself. LA is also amazing though. I'm really inspired by the area I live now. I live in Highland Park. It's a really fun area - there's a lot of things to skate, the longer I spent there, the more I find!

Where’s your favourite zone to skate in Europe?

I've really like Portugal. I think every time I go, there's a new thing to skate and it’s a fun place to be. I feel like people have been hitting Spain for so long that everybody that lives there is just so over skating - Portugal is new and refreshing that way. I also like Greece a lot I've only been once and it was really fun. I would love to go back there.

How was your transition from contests to focusing on video parts?

I feel it was a pretty organic transition, When I was younger, people would just send me to all these contests. I never had a problem with it - I just did it. Then, obviously you get a bit older - after I did the Olympics that I had skated most contests out there. So what’s next? I felt more comfortable just filming video parts. And taking my time to do that.

Any last words? A message for the internet? A message to your former self?

I feel like I have a good pace with what I'm doing right now. I am happy with it. And I just want to keep that going. Don’t overthink it. Just keep doing you!