Pierre-Yves Frappier is 37 years old and his passion for skateboarding is deeper than the majority of 20-year-olds I know. After a decade of alcohol and drug abuse, PIF decided to change his life. He stopped focusing his energy on personal destruction and redirected it towards skateboarding. The result is seriously impressive.
We decided to talk to him to know more about his troubled past, overcoming addiction and skating at such a high level at 37 years old.
Text by Empire
Chillin’. I just got up. Not working today so I just slept in.
Not because you partied yesterday?
Nah, I’m always sober.
How long have you been sober exactly?
Around 5 1\2 years.
How long did you live the life of the party?
I would say since I’m a teenager. I always liked to party. I’m pretty shy in general so drinking gave me confidence and made it easier to talk to others. At first it wasn’t a problem, but then I started working as a roofer, that’s when it went bad. I started making a lot of money and spent it partying as fast as I earned it.
How would you describe the years that you spent living this life?
These are moments that I remember more or less, this is all pretty vague in my head. I remember the fast evolution of the party life. At first, I went out with my friends, discovering what the night world was. It was cool, but I still thought that club people were a little weird. Drugs, alcohol and debauchery was their thing, not the kind of people I would normally hang out with… Next thing you know, these party people became my friends and I would hang out with them more that anything.
You weren’t skating at all during that time?
I was riding around on my board, but I wasn’t really skating. No tricks.
What made you decide to stop everything?
I was feeling good about the whole party thing for the first couple years, but at one point, it was really bad. I lived in a room that I rented by the week and I stopped talking to my parents. Sometimes they came to see me unannounced, but I pretended not to be there. After one last bender of 3-4 days without sleep, I had a reality check and I went to rehab at Maison l’Alcove in Saint-Hyacinthe. I stayed there for 21 days. The time it takes to overcome addiction.
You never drank again after that?
Not a single drop. When I came out of there, I worked at Empire for a minute. I was a little bit afraid of going back to real work and falling back into routine… Working, making money, spending it at the bar, etc. I finally moved to Quebec City and started the roofing thing again. The only difference is I started to focus on skating instead of partying.
So you didn’t start skating right when you came out of rehab?
Not really. I started thinking about skating again, but didn’t actually do it for a while. When I got back on the board, people around me were saying “PIF started skating again” and it was stressing me out because I had to relearn everything. At first it was tough, I wasn’t comfortable when I skated, but it came back gradually.
Clearly! You’re the gnarliest skater in Quebec and you’re 37! What’s your secret?
Skateboarding is basically something that compensates for my alcohol addiction. Any passion can do it. For me, it’s skateboarding. It’s my way out you know. If I hadn’t returned to skateboarding, I seriously don’t know where I’d be right now…
You’ve been back on the Empire team for about a year, how are you feeling about it?
I feel at home! I started with Empire and I am stoked to be back. Thanks !!!
The tricks you do are so gnarly for a 37 years old man. Do you feel sore sometimes?
I’m 37 and I feel like I’m 27 man! No, for real, sometimes my body hurts, but that’s normal I think. The other day I tried to kickflip the long steps at D’youville Square and I was sore after that because I pushed heavily for too long. For real, I’ve never felt this good in a long time.
Would you say that you are more on point now than in your twenties?It’s not even comparable. I learn new tricks every time I skate and improve every year. Before it was the downward slope and now it only goes up.
Do you have regrets about not pushing the skate thing when you were younger?Not really. What is done is done. Still, there are tricks and spots that I haven’t skated yet. I will most likely skate them, but I regret not having skated them yet!
Haha! Would you like to skate El Toro again?
Ha! That would be cool for sure. Except that there is no rail in the middle of the stairs anymore, only on the sides… I would need to check it in person to see if I can skate it.
Is skating El Toro part of your plans for this year?
It’s clear that I want to travel and go back to Cali to skate all the famous spots. 100% sure. I also just got my license so I’ll probably go to Vancouver next March and hang with the Timebomb dudes. I bought a 2013 Grand Caravan and I’ll be able to put a mattress in it so I’ll probably trek around Canada. Before all that, I will enjoy the summer in Quebec and skate all the spots we have here!
Join us Wednesday May 29 at Empire Downtown Montreal for the launch of our Early Summer Issue and come see photos from Pif ans the Empire crew on their trip to Portugal. Clic here for more infos.