Vert skating has never been an American thing, barring Mr. Edwards’ wickedness circa 1990-1994. European and Australian skaters soon dominated this field in the mid- to late ’90s. Their different styles and tricks were a refreshing change for the skate industry. One of these men was Denmark’s René Hulgreen. René was a lot different from most vert skaters — he learned to skate ramps on quad skates or “roller skates,” as most of you might know them. Also, he had a distinct appearance. With his long red hair, and almost always a beer in hand, he was a straight up Nordic viking! The inventor of the viking flip, an awkward mctwist, sort of a side-flip 540, was different, amazing and refreshing. René started skating back in 1988, and his career took him around the world, but after years of touring and traveling he has settled back in his home country and made his second favorite pastime — drinking beer — his second career. At age 39 he is a proud brewmeister and father. “Qua vos vado illic mos usquequaque exsisto beer.” It’s Latin… look it up! — Mike Opalek
You started off as a roller skater, how old were you when you started doing that? I skated on roller skates as a child, but real skating, ramps, A.S.O. I started in 1988, so I was 18.
What was it like taking roller skates to a vert ramp? At first I was just skating around the streets in Copenhagen, then one day someone took me to the local skate park, Fælledparken, where I saw a vert ramp for the first time. There were some roller skaters skating on it, and I went straight up on the platform and within an hour I had done a sit-in, a roll-in and a drop-in; I was hooked.
What made you switch to inline skates? I was on an Interrail trip through Europe and at a vert contest in Karlsruhe, Germany, Raphael Sandoz and Ivano Gagliardo, at that time also still roller skating, had some inline skates with them. Later on the trip I bought a pair of Roces Moscows.
How was that transition? I remember being scared of doing a back flip and going fakie at first, but it only took a week before I did everything I did on roller skates, and a month later I was at the first Lausanne contest, and the rest is history.