Phil Zwijsen: The Belgian Skateboarder Doing It His Way

Phil was born in 1986 in Antwerp, Belgium and has been skating since he was 13 years old. Watching his older brother skate with friends inspired him to pick up a board, and now, in his early thirties, he attends the world’s biggest skate competition for the first time.

Beginning in Belgium

Life wasn’t always glamorous skate competitions for Phil. He spent his formative years in Antwerp, Belgium, which had a relatively low-key scene compared to the enormous skate culture in the US.

As a young man, his greatest influence was his older brother who was the reason behind him picking up the sport in the first place. They would go to the local skatepark together with friends after school and practise tricks.

“My brother, he was skating and I found I started skating because of him and his friends. I saw them and just thought wow I want to do this too and I’ve been doing it ever since. At the start, when I was 13 or 14, the only thing I did was skating”

Hard Work

Although he was excelling and showing promise as a talented young skateboarder, Phil had to work alongside his skating to keep himself afloat. He used to work for an air conditioning company, LG as a distributor.

When customer’s air conditioning units broke down, or if there was a manufacturing mistake, he would have to go to the house and fix it. But he kept focussing on skating, and managed to win a couple of small European competitions.

 

“I won the European championships in like 2008 and then I started getting paid by some companies and then from there I was like yeah, I definitely don’t want to go back to work if I can do this”

Creativity

Despite Phil’s earlier success at competitions in Europe, this is first time he’s been to Street League. Generally preferring the more free flowing and open environment of street skating, he feel that sometimes contest skating can compromise creativity.

“The way I skate I think is I try to skate really creative and I feel like, contests like this, I don’t think, I know it’s more based on pure hardness of the tricks, also creativity and style, but I think it’s more trick based you know”

For Street League though Phil saw it as “a good opportunity for me to come here so, just to be in this event like, a lot of people really want to be in this contest you know and I thought it would be cool for me to try.”

Rolling on

“The last few years have been pretty crazy actually. I don’t work. I mean, it’s my job so it’s pretty fucking crazy. Sometimes when there’s injuries and all this stuff I don’t think you really have that in a normal job, so, that kind of sucks.”

“But, I used to work in air conditioning and now I travel the whole world you know, just skating, getting paid for it. It’s amazing”

Watch Phil in Action at the 2018 SLS in London: