Two years ago I watched Youness Amrani absolutely annihilate the Red Bull Am Manny Mania World Championship. The 2nd place winner wasn't even close to beating him. I eagerly awaited him skating in the pro contest the next day in hopes that he would stage an upset and win that as well. Sadly, the event was rained out and I've been waiting ever since to see more of young Youness. I got my fix recently with his opener in the new Nike video "The SB Chronicles." If American kids didn't know about Youness before, that was one hell of an introduction. I felt bad for anyone who had to follow him. We caught up with Youness in Belgium to get to know him a little better.
Do you get all the Armani suits you want because your family owns the company?
I wish! It would be pretty tight!
How often do people confuse your last name with Armani?
Not really often. They just make jokes about it but I think it would be so hard to remember my name if it was some random Belgian name.
Being Belgium, do you eat a lot of waffles or are you kind of over them?
I wouldn't say I eat a lot of waffles but I love it though! We eat it with ice cream, Nutella, anything actually but I prefer just sugar and Nutella!
What part of Belgium are you from and what's it like there?
I'm from the east, like 15 minutes from Holland. I live in Hasselt a small city; It's cool! The skatepark is around the corner from my house that's why we moved here and there are not that many skaters so we all know each other. Nobody tries to be the best we all just hype each other up.
How long did Lance Mountain let you borrow his eyebrows for?
Weird! I've never even noticed that but now that you say that, we do have similar eyebrows! I think he gave them to me.
What role did your mom play in your success? I heard she was super supportive.
Everything about it would never have happened without a mother like I have. I have two older brothers and we used to skate everyday but the weather gets bad for more than six months out of the year so my mom would drive us to all these skateparks like every week and she would just sit in the car for hours reading books and stuff. Then, when I turned 13 or 14, my skateshop sponsor and my mom started a skatepark, that lasted for like two or three years and then the outdoor park came and we moved here. So yeah, everything I did until now would be impossible without the support of my mom and brothers and everybody.
You were riding for Jart for a little while. How did that end and riding for Almost begin?
I was riding for the European Almost team and I wanted to quit school for skating so I needed money and Almost Europe wasn't doing anything so I went to Jart. Then somebody at Nike told me, "If you get a legit board company to turn you am, you can get a part in this next Nike video." So I went to Barcelona met everyone who was in the video and Lewis was telling me to ride for Almost, a bunch of other companies asked me but Almost was the company where I would be the most proud to be a part of. The team, the people who work for it are all like family! Best decision in my life.
Have you skated with Daewon Song or Rodney Mullen yet?
I met Rodney and Daewon once. I look up to them both as people and skateboarders so meeting them was unreal but they are so cool and mellow. I didn't skate with Rodney; it would be sick to see him stand on a board for me! I skated with Daewon once and he is my biggest inspiration in skateboarding. I thought I wouldn't even step on my board if he would be skating but he's so fun and motivating it's hard to not step on your board. When I saw him skate in real life, it was pretty much the most amazing thing I've ever seen. Never thought that they would know my name or who I am! It's still crazy when I think about it. It's an honor to be on Almost.
How long did you have to film your Nike video part and how do you think it turned out?
It took like a year and a few months. I'm really psyched on how it came out. I watched the whole video so many times already; [Nike filmer/editor] Jason Hernandez really is a magician! I didn't see my part in advance but I knew what I filmed and we were trying to get this one song I wanted to use but they couldn't get the rights so Jason chose this song and when I heard it, the first thing I thought was, 'This is gonna suck!' Jason told me it was gonna fit good so I trusted him. Now I'm happy I did. Thanks, Jason!
Whose part did you like the most?
I like every part equally. Its not like there is a best part to me. It's so tight if you see stuff in the video that you have seen go down in real life.
Do you feel you need to move to the U.S. to get to the next level or can you pull it off flying back and forth?
I can't live in The States now; it's too serious. I'll try to go back and forth as long as I can.
What do you have lined up for 2012?
Has Almost discussed turning YOUness PROrani?
I hope not. I'm still too young in skate years.