Jack Olson killed the contest circuit for a decade straight, but now he’s dedicating himself solely to the streets. With no COVID setbacks for the Minnesotan maniac, he recently put out a steady stream of quality parts in homie vids and heavy features. On the heels of his new part for REAL, he dishes with fellow Deluxer Tim Fulton about his home-state love, battling bangers and going pro three times.
Photos by Gabe Morford
Jack goes off on LA's heaviest rails with the REAL crew in tow. Don't tempt him with a good time
What's up, Jack? What have you been up to?
I went to Hawaii for two weeks with my girlfriend, then we just got back from a trip to San Francisco with the REAL crew yesterday and now I'm just chillin'.
That was a fun trip. Okay, first question: I heard you put peanut butter on your eggs. Is that true?
This is not true! I put peanut butter on my toast and then sometimes I'll put a little egg on there and take a bite. It’s good. But actually I've been trying to cut back on the peanut butter because it's bad for me. I used to do it with breakfast all the time.
Switch blunts and death drops go together like PB and eggs
You spent a lot of time in Minnesota this last year. What prompted you to get out of LA?
I went back to Minnesota last year in April because COVID was super hectic. I just said, Fuck it and drove back to Minnesota by myself and planned on staying there for a month or two. I got stuck there for the entire summer and was there for like six months, just having a blast with all my homies. I came back to LA for a few months and then I was over it again so I went back to Minnesota for another three months. I've been back in LA for a bit and I've been enjoying it.
What's the biggest difference for you between the two places?
In Minnesota I just feel like nothing is quite as serious and I can just have fun hanging out with all of my friends. When I skate I just feel like I'm fucking around a lot more. The spots are more unique and not as blown out, so it's a lot easier to get stuff done. In LA it's like everything is a lot more of a mission so you need to plan everything out. Both places are nice but I feel like in Minnesota it's a little easier to skate there.
Feeble on Nesser-length bar, Minnesotans know how to mission
What about not skating?
Not skating in Minnesota in the summer is the shit. You can go for bike rides or go swimming in the lakes and everyone is so fired up because there's only four or five nice months out of the year. There's just always something going on and the summer weather there is amazing.
You don't end up doing that stuff in LA?
I do, but just not as much. We'll go to the beach sometimes. but it's more like just hanging out with homies at their apartments.
Switch 50-50 on his pro shit
You grew up skating a lot of contests. How long were you in the Tampa Am/Phoenix Am circuit?
Probably for ten or 11 years. I think I was 13 at the first Tampa Am I did and I was 23 or 24 at the last one.
Yeah, probably for a solid ten years I was skating all of the am contests, going to a couple a year.
That's insane. Have you won both of them or just Phoenix?
I won Tampa Am 2013 and Phoenix Am 2015
Feeble up and across to noseblunt down, you won’t see this in Tampa
That's sick. I wonder how many people have won both. You don't really skate contests any more, though. How come?
The last couple years I was still am, I had just skated all of those contests for so long and I was just kinda burnt out on them. Once I turned pro, there's just not as many contests and they're all a lot more exclusive. It's just a little bit harder to skate those. I skated one Tampa Pro and since COVID there hasn't been any contests.
So we'll see you in the next Tampa Pro?
Yep, next Tampa Pro, I'll be there.
There's so many skaters coming up from Minnesota. Why do you think that is?
I think a lot of people come up from there because six months out of the year you're just trapped inside basically. So you just go to 3rd Lair or Familia skatepark every day. You're just with your friends and you have nothing else to do. You just skate and learn new tricks and then once the summer time hits, you're just so excited to get outside that you're fired up to film because you know you only have so much time until winter is back. You’re just super stoked to film stuff and be in the streets with your friends.
You seem to film a VX part in Minnesota every summer. Do you think you're more productive there?
Yeah, I think I'm more productive in Minnesota. Like I was saying, the spots aren't as blown out so you can kind of film whatever you want and it's just more fun cruising around the city. You don’t really have to worry like, Alright, let's go on this 45-minute mission to this one spot and then after that, another 30-minute drive to the next spot. Everything is so close so you can hit so many spots in one day.
Some tricks are too tech for the VX—Barley grind switch flip out
Do you think you skate differently with the VX?
A lot of my homies in Minnesota film VX and I just feel like it makes the spot look cool on footage. You don't have to do the craziest trick for it to look cool. You can do more fun lines that are gonna look sick.
Jumping into the part here, how long have you been filming this thing? Why has it taken so long to come out?
I wanna say it's been like three-and-a-half years making it. I was super fired up in LA filming a bunch and then I just got kind of burnt on all the spots out here. Then I went back to Minnesota and the date of my part was super up in the air, so I just posted up in Minnesota and ended up filming there. I got really stoked on that so I just wanted to stay in Minnesota and finish something separate out there.
Back in California, Jack’s all business—switch feeble
And what part was that?
That was the For Henry video that came out on Thrasher a couple months ago. But after that I came back to LA to film for a couple more months. I got a couple more things I'm stoked on.
Are you stoked to start fresh?
Yeah, I'm very stoked to start fresh. Some of the footage is just kind of old. The way I skate now compared to three years ago is a little different, so I'm excited to work on something new. I've just been feeling a lot better skating lately so I'm excited to jump into a new part.
What do you think was the hardest thing in your part?
There were a few things I went back for a couple different times. I think the hardest or longest I tried a trick for was the switch front board in Hollywood with the drops. I wanna say I tried it for five hours straight. When we got there—because it's a joke how long I take to get tricks—I was like, Sick, we have four hours until it's dark out! But by the time I actually landed it, you were like, “Alright, you have 10 more minutes before it's too dark.”
I was sore from filming that the next day.
Yeah, it took like four or five hours to do that. That was the longest I've tried a trick for.
We love a battle, but nothin’ beats that one-and-done feeling on a hectic boardslide
Alright, but what about the boardslide pop out? Tell the people about that one.
Alright, so right when I moved to LA you were always trying to get me to boardslide pop out that rail in Silver Lake that Nuge grinded. I was always like, It's not possible; there's no way I can do it. I feel like twice a year we'd drive by and look at it and it'd be like, Maybe? Nah, it's not possible. We just kept talking about it until it was a joke at some point and you kept egging me on to do it. Then I think Nate or Christian hit me up and they were like, Hey, we want you to have a REAL ad, and we just came up with that. It was like, Fuck it, alright, let’s do it. I guess this is the time to do that boardslide. It was probably like five or six years of joking about it. So on the day we went, there was a bike lock on it, so we cut it off and I ended up doing it first try. After years and years of me thinking it's not possible, you convincing me I could do it, and then I just did it first try! I was so hyped, but I also just felt so dumb in a way because I was like, I could have done this five years ago! But it was sick and it worked out.
So what's next? Are you planning on jumping right back into filming or are you going to take a break when the part drops?
Not taking a break—jumping right back into filming. We just got back from a trip yesterday and I filmed some stuff that I was stoked on. So I’ll try to keep filming. I'm going to spend the month of July in Minnesota and I have half of a part done for the 3rd Lair video already. That'll be out at the end of this year. I'm going to try and finish that and film a full part for that video. Then once I get back to LA, just keep it up and try to get something else going.
It took a really long time for REAL to turn you pro. Is that why you went pro like three times?
I would think that's why they turned me pro three times, because after they mentioned turning me pro, it was like another year and a half before it actually went down. I think think they kind of felt bad that it took as long as it did, so then that whole summer we would go to different events and it happened three times: In Minnesota when it actually happened, in Austin on Go Skate Day they surprised me with another board and then they did it again a month later in Oklahoma on K-Walk's Day. They surprised me with another board and popped champagne and sprayed me. It was sick, except I was kind of getting over being sprayed with champagne.
Jack ignores the sign on two counts—kickflip crooks like an animal
I think the REAL crew liked that part. Sorry to change the tone, but skateboarding lost a warrior this year. Do you want to tell us anything about Henry Gartland and what it was like watching him grow up at 3rd Lair?
Yeah, I watched Henry grow up from like a 12-or-13-year-old little shit that was just like an annoying kid at the skatepark that you could tell was going to be so good one day. I didn't really know him other than that. I’d see him get on Santa Cruz and I would see him at contests, but other than that I didn't know him much, because I moved to LA when he was still a little kid. So I didn't see him fully grow up. I just saw him getting better and better at skating. But then in 2019 I went to Copenhagen with him. It was just me and him on this trip that Zumiez got us on. I roomed with him and I got to spend a full week basically hanging out with only Henry and getting to know him, realizing how much he had grown up to be the nicest, sickest dude with the best energy to be around. Everything about that trip made me realize how awesome of a dude he was. So then that next summer in Minnesota, he was there skating for the first two months I was there and I skated with him every day. Seeing him grow up, you could tell he had something special going on. So yeah, losing Henry was something I wish I never had to go through.
Keep ‘em close, RIP, EHG
You were in Minnesota when you heard the news. I feel like the 3rd Lair crew is so close, I'm sure it hit everyone pretty hard.
Yeah, nobody could have ever seen it coming. It was a total shock. I was in Minnesota when we found out and the whole community there was hit so hard and no one could believe it. But I was grateful to be in Minnesota, around the people I love and the people who loved Henry, going through that with each other. We all needed each other at a time like that. But yeah, Henry was the best. I think about him every day and probably will for the rest of my life.
Nice. Thank you, Jack. Rest in peace, Henry.
Switch hurricane down an LA staple, Jack keeps that Minnesota rail-chomper tradition alive. Congrats on the part, the progress and the three-peat pro status—you earned it!