WCS 30th Anniversary—PLG Interview

April 16, 2024 / By vanessa

Being a pro skateboarder is marked by many unforgettable moments—some awesome, some downright gnarly. For Pierre-Luc Gagnon, aka PLG, many of these moments happened during World Cup Skateboarding events and we got him to talk about some of them.

Here’s a rundown, with the top 5 moments that stood out:

1. How PLG’s Pro Career Started & The Impact of WCS
2. First Pro Contest Win: The WCS Mystic World Cup in Prague
3. Part of the Game: Mishaps and Broken Bones on Tour
4. The Gnarliest Fall PLG Ever Saw at X Games
5. X Games, Maloof Money Cup & the 10% Unwritten Rule


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Une publication partagée par Pierre Luc Gagnon (@plg)

1. How PLG’s Pro Career Started & The Impact of WCS on His Pro Career

It all kicked off back in ’96 when PLG snagged first place at the Vans Amateur World Championship. Thinking back on that game-changing moment, PLG says, Giorgio Zattoni and I were battling for first place in the finals. I pulled off my run and ended up taking first.” That victory wasn’t just about the glory—it scored him a contract with Vans and opened up a whole world of opportunities. At just 17 years old, he found himself traveling the globe, hitting up contests left and right, living every young skateboarder’s dream.

WCS started to take off in ’97, at the same time PLG turned pro. WCS was big in the industry, sanctioning every major pro contest, providing judges, announcers pretty much running the show at every event. WCS played a crucial role in giving PLG the chance to go global. He spent his summers in Europe, jumping trains from England to Switzerland to Germany, hitting contests every weekend. For a shy kid from Montreal who barely spoke English, it was a wild ride—a chance to leave his mark, make some good money and skate in contests all over the map.

2. PLG’s First Pro Contest Win: The WCS Mystic World Cup in Prague

At the young age of 18, PLG scored his first pro contest win at the WCS Mystic Sk8 Cup in Prague, propelling his career to new heights. The event was part of a month-long European tour, with contests lined up every weekend for four consecutive weeks. Starting off in England, then Prague, followed by Switzerland, and concluding in Munster, Germany.

Each weekend, PLG found himself accumulating a growing stash of cash, leaving him unsure of how to manage it. “I was making money every weekend and I didn’t know what to do with it,” he recalls with a laugh. “I’d stuff it in my socks before traveling by train.” By the time he headed home after a month in Europe, he had over 10 grand stuffed in his socks. “I mean, it was kind of sketchy,” he says with a grin.

3. Part of the Game: Mishaps and Broken Bones on Tour

So, the next year, in ’98, his Europe trip kicked off with a bit of a rough start. Imagine this: he’s on this European tour, and bam, he breaks his arm right at the first stop in England. As per usual, he’d have a few days to chill before the next contest, so he’d hop on a train to Amsterdam. Without realizing his arm was busted, he spent three days in Amsterdam, living it up, thinking everything was cool.

It was only when they hit Germany a few days later and the pain came back that he knew something was off. Turns out, his arm was completely snapped in half. Ended up with this massive cast, realizing way too late that he’d been skating around with a broken arm the whole time. Talk about a buzzkill. Had to cut the trip short and head home early that year.

A few years later, in 2001, PLG broke his wrist again in England, right on the last run of the contest. X Games was coming up, and he was determined to tough it out, so he flew back to Cali. But his wrist was in bad shape. He couldn’t even hold a fork properly. Eventually, he gave in and got an x-ray.

Turns out, his wrist was a mess—broken, dislocated, ligaments torn, you name it. Surgery was the only solution, but the cost in the U.S. was astronomical. Luckily, he had free medical care in Canada. So, he hopped on a Greyhound to Montreal, had surgery the same day, and ended up watching the X Games from the sidelines with a busted wrist. What a bummer.

But you know how it goes—what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? PLG came back in 2002 stronger than ever, snagging two gold medals.

4. The Gnarliest Fall PLG Ever Saw at X Games

PLG shared a wild memory from the X Games mega ramp contest, featuring Jake Brown and the gnarly fall. PLG was chilling after his run when it was Jake’s turn. Jake spun a backside 720 melon off the quarter of the mega ramp, but then he kind of lost it, started wobbling, squatted at one of the corners and got to the top. Instead of staying down, he ejected up the quarter until he flew probably 16 ft over it, which was already 27 ft tall. He landed flat-bottom, his shoes going flying. “It was scary, man,” PLG recalls. Jake was out cold, eyes wide open, not even breathing. But after the medics did their thing, he miraculously came back to life. Then Jake being Jake, walked away, lit up a smoke, and acted like nothing happened. After insisting on bringing him to the hospital, it turns out he had a contused liver, fractured vertebrae, and a busted wrist.

5. PLG’s Victories: X Games, Maloof Money Cup, and the 10% Unwritten Rule

After clinching the gold in the X Games vert finals, PLG decides it’s time to hit the town and celebrate his victory. I mean, come on, when you’ve bagged yourself a gold medal, it’s practically mandatory to party, right? But as the night winds down and the dawn breaks, PLG wakes up feeling the full force of the festivities. He’s tired, he’s worn out, but guess what? There’s still the X Games best trick competition coming up.

Now, you might expect PLG to be nursing a serious hangover, but not this guy. Best trick or not, he’s still riding high from that epic gold medal win. So, with a mix of determination and maybe a hint of disbelief, he lingers into the best trick event, thinking, “Eh, I only need to land one trick, right?” And guess what? He nails a heelflip mctwist like it’s just another day at the park and walks away with another victory under his belt. Now, that’s what I call a bounce-back! PLG proves once again that when it comes to skateboarding, he’s in a league of his own.

Then, PLG unveils the mystery behind the “10% Unwritten Rule.” Essentially, it was an informal agreement where the winner was expected to treat the crew to drinks, splurging about 10% of their prize money at the bar. So, if you pocketed a few grand, dropping a couple hundred bucks to keep the stoke alive among your fellow shredders was the name of the game. Cheers to that tradition!

But it’s not all fun and games when reality hits, especially when it comes to thinking about your future. PLG sheds light on the financial side of being a pro skateboarder, revealing that it’s not just about fancy checks and endless cash flow. “Don’t get me wrong,” he explains, “I made a lot of money from contest earnings and stuff, and bonuses too.” He recalls his earnings from events like the Maloof Money Cup and X Games, where he raked in around 150k in just a week, including medals and bonuses from sponsors.

However, he emphasizes that the money train doesn’t last forever. “Money was good,” he admits, “but you know, it doesn’t last forever.” In a world without pension plans, PLG stresses the importance of savvy money management. “You gotta hustle while you can,” he says, “and stash some away for a rainy day.”

His advice to up-and-coming skaters? “Be smart with your money. It’s tempting to spend it all, but you’ve got to think long-term.”

Alright, wrapping it up, PLG’s skateboarding journey has been one wild ride. From his early wins to those nail-biting X Games moments, he’s shown us what it means to hustle hard and ride with style. But it’s not just about the wins and the glory—it’s about the friendships made, the lessons learned, and the memories shared along the way.

As PLG looks back on his career, he’s quick to give props to organizations like World Cup Skateboarding for giving him the chance to shine on the global stage. He’s grateful for the crazy experiences, the epic contests, and the chance to spread the stoke of skateboarding around the world.

So, here’s to PLG, a true skateboarding legend, and to all the skaters out there chasing their dreams. Keep shredding and never forget to enjoy the ride. And as PLG himself says, “Thanks WCS for being such a big part of my career and always having cool events all over the world and giving me a chance to compete and travel the world the way I did.”

Keep it real, keep it fun, and keep pushing the limits.