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Michał Juraś – Long time no see

Michał Juraś has finally put the most difficult time a skater can probably have behind him. After his ender part in Grey Area in 2012, he had to deal with two severe injuries and, on top of that, lost Polar – the company that finally felt like a good fit – as his board sponsor. In a situation like that, others would have given up and chosen a different approach to skateboarding. But Michał is a fighter that will always keep getting up after being knocked down. That’s why we are looking forward to watching his first full part after five years in the upcoming video of his friend and filmer Kuba Kaczmarczyk.

How are you these days, Michał?

I’m good. I just got back home from a week-long holiday trip to the Polish seaside with my homies from Kraków. Right now, I’m just repacking bags cause my friend Kuba [Bączkowski, editor’s note] from Barrier Magazine called me like 15 minutes ago and asked if I want to join him and some friends for a trip to Vilnius, Lithuania. So, I decided to go for the weekend and check the spots.

What do you do when you aren’t traveling or skating?

I like to spend my free time riding my motorcycle. Even though I don't have any specific knowledge about them, I do know how to fix and renovate things and, quite frankly, I do enjoy it. Besides that, I'm a fixer-upper from time to time.

What’s that?

A Handyman! A guy who can fix and build stuff – but not like DIY spots. More like furniture for your home or your garden or just renovating something.

Speaking of building stuff: In R5 edits or Kuba’s footage, it’s noticeable that you often build kickers or wallies – is that something you guys like to skate or is it a necessity for the spots in Poland?

I do it cause I like it, but sometimes, it’s a must. It’s fun when you can kinda “pimp a spot” and skate it the way you like. Sometimes, you have to do it cause the ledge or the rail is too high to jump on from the flat and, sometimes, it’s just a new option to an old spot. I think that kickers always open new opportunities. But it’s also a part of street skating. Often, you just have to fix a spot to skate it and Poland is no different. We have some smooth spots, but we also have a lot of rough spots with fucked up run-ups and that’s when a piece of sheet metal comes in handy.

Boardslide

Juras Paralax

Boardslide

What does R5 stand for?

It’s a crew that I have been a part of for many years now. It comes from the hood that I live in and where I grew up skating. It’s a pretty loose crew, not a company or brand. The name comes from the times of the Second World War when Warsaw was divided into areas. Mine was called Rejon 5 [Polish for “Region 5”, editor’s note] - R5. My brother and some friends that live close by are behind the entire project. But nowadays, when you google it, you’ll rather find my brother’s film production company [R5 Films] than some recent skate edits or pictures [R5 skateboarding]. The last edit I did under the R5 name was in 2012, so it was a long time ago. Right now, I’m working on something new, but first things first – the new Kuba video.

Tell us a little bit about growing up and skating in Poland. What was it like to be a skater in the ‘90s in R5?

I bought my first skateboard when I was 12 years old. It was in 2001, so I don’t really know how it was to be a skater in the ‘90s, – haha. Actually, it wasn’t even my idea but my brother’s. Back then, he was snowboarding a lot and was really into it. I also tried it but broke both my legs when I was 11 and got a bit discouraged. He thought that for the summer in the city, skateboarding would be a good alternative to snowboarding. So we went to DSK, the only skateshop in Warsaw at that time, and bought a no-name board. For the first month, we had only this one skateboard for the two of us. We skated all the time and, soon, that wasn’t enough. So, my brother had to buy a new board for himself and I got to keep the old one. We skated mostly around our house on flatground and on some curbs. We had this really good spot next to our place and skaters from all over would come to film lines there, but we were too shy to skate with them. We even didn’t want to go to the city center to skate the Warsaw main spots like Witos or Capitol, cause we couldn’t do any tricks. Soon, we got to know a couple of local skaters and, after some time, we gathered quite a large crew. Thanks to these new friends, I got my first VHS tape with three skate videos: Birdhouse’s “The End”, Girl’s “Mouse”, and the Zoo York Mixtape. These were the first skate videos in my life. I didn’t have internet at that time, I didn’t even have a computer, so that tape was my only contact with the world of skateboarding. I watched it so many times that it got completely fucked up. After a year of learning tricks in my neighborhood, I started to hit the city center with my local crew. There weren’t many skateparks in Warsaw, so street skating was pretty much the only option. It was the beginning of the R5 crew. Unfortunately, I’m the only one from that first crew that still skates regularly.

How’s the new video from Kuba coming along? Are you guys still filming?

Yeah, that’s pretty much all I do right now. I try to skate as much as I can and get as much footage as I can. After the part in Grey Area, I was injured twice. First, I blew up my knee on a skate trip in NYC and was out for a year. Then, I twisted my ankle really bad and had to get surgery again. It took me nine months to get back on the board. I started skating again in November and, since then, I’m filming with Kuba for this new video.

Juras2 Bilder1

Frontside Shove-it

Juras2 Bilder2

Heelflip to Fakie

Did those severe injuries have any repercussion on your body or mind or are you already back on your level?

If you ask about physical pain, then no. But it was rough for the first three months. After a skate session, my leg was swollen and I didn’t have as much power in my legs as before. But now, everything is fine. Maybe the range of my movements could be bigger, but I’ll get there soon! As for mental repercussions, I think I have a strong psyche, so it wasn’t an issue for me. I’ve never had any dark visions or barriers holding me down or limiting my skateboarding. The last part is difficult to answer cause it’s hard for me to judge myself. But it seems to me that I’ve already returned to my level long ago. Soon, you’ll be able to form your own opinion when you see my newest footage.

Grey Area was a heavy video with powerful skateboarding and editing. I had the feeling Kuba also released a little bit of anger with it. What do you expect it to be this time?

I have no idea what it will look like. The whole vision is still in Kuba’s mind and trust me, I don’t want to go there. We are still filming for the video, the deadline is till the end of October or till the end of good weather. I hope that it will be as good as the last one or even better. There will be a lot of powerful and rough skateboarding straight out of Poland. I hope you will enjoy it. It will be something different – new spots, new faces. I’m really looking forward to seeing the part of my good friend Krzysiek Poskrobko cause he filmed some really good tricks. I’m not worried about the editing or music, cause I trust Kuba and I know that he has got his standards pretty high and that he will work till he’s satisfied with the video.

Juras Einzelbild2

Gap to Lipslide

During your injuries, you disappeared from the Polar roster. Why did you leave?

I don’t feel like I left Polar, cause it wasn’t fully my decision. It all started when they stopped producing my pro models, but it was ok with me as long as I was still on the main team. By the end of 2015, Pontus texted me that he will have to limit the number of riders in the team and, unfortunately, it will be me and Jerome that have to go. I kinda understand his decision. By that time, Polar was changing from a local European company into a big international skate brand and they needed some big international names. In February, I flew to Copenhagen for the premiere of the new Polar video. I met all the boys from the team and had a really great time there, but I felt like it’s not the same as before, that my time in Polar has passed. Imagine you get fired from a job but still come to work to hang out with your friends. They are working on new stuff and you have nothing to say. Makes no sense. Two days after the premiere, I had surgery, so I had a lot of time to think things over. And during my rehab, I decided it makes no sense to carry on with this project and it’s time to start looking for something else to do.

The footsteps of your former teams [Zoo York and Polar, editor’s note] are quiet big. Do you know what will come next?

I don’t really think about it, I’m focused on skating and filming. But of course, I would like to be on a team with people who I know and get along with. People who are on the same page. What kind of brand is also important, I wouldn’t join a team of a company that doesn’t share my point of view on skateboarding and is not in my type. I know one thing for sure – my team manager should be really patient cause I prefer a rough type of skateboarding and, unfortunately, that consumes a lot of boards.

Juras Einzelfoto3

Wallie 5-0

But the concept of being a professional skateboarder, who lives off of skateboarding, still makes sense to you – or do you have a different approach by now?

Yeah, it makes sense for sure and I want to live off of skateboarding for as long as possible. It’s really a great thing to be able to live off of – a thing that you love. Being a pro is also pretty hard cause you always have to push it to the limit and risk your health pretty much most of the time. On the other hand, you’ll get to see many amazing places and meet great people while going on tours. This style of living is pretty tiring, but when you look at people working hard on a construction site, you have to appreciate what you have. But I think that it is very important to keep in mind that you won’t be doing this your whole life and if anything happens, you’ll need to have some kind of plan B.

There’s one more random thing I’d like to ask. I saw you 360 flipping into a narrow kinked runway next to two big sets of stairs and you just kept going until there was nothing left besides jumping head-first into a river. Was that a spontaneous move? 

Haha, funny that you remember this. I filmed that in Vienna back in 2011 and used it for my R5 edit. It was kinda planned spontaneous – if you can say so. It was the last spot that we visited that day and it was really hot. I said that if I land the 360 flip, I will jump into the river. My friends said that I won’t do it, so I had to prove them wrong. Actually, I didn’t think it over, cause I was supposed to meet my godfather later that evening and didn’t have any clothes to change. But at least, we had a good laugh about it.

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