JoJo Velasquez was born to be a Red Bull Ice Cross star

JoJo Velasquez always seemed destined for the top on skates. The son of action sports competitors, he was also brought up in an action sports complex at Woodward in Park City, Utah. 

With skates strapped onto his feet before he could walk, it's no surprise he's one of Red Bull Ice Cross' rising stars having been crowed junior world champion last season.

Continuing from where he left off... Image: Sebastian Marko / Red Bull Content Pool
Continuing from where he left off... © Sebastian Marko / Red Bull Content Pool

Having got off to a winning start in 2020, he talked about his rise to the top, his skating inspiration and the burden of expectation.

What have you made of the season so far and your progress?
Leading up into the 2020 season I focused very hard on being more explosive and gaining body mass. The most difficult part was training my mind to stay consistent and to leave my previous world championship in the past. I definitely felt like I had a lot of weight on my shoulders. Going into my first race I was mentally and physically ready. I ended up winning my first 500 point race in Mont Du Lac Wisconsin and left ready for my upcoming races in Rautalampi Finland and Yokohama Japan.

You’re the junior world champion, how big a step is it to climb into the senior ranks?
Whenever I get the opportunity to race in the men’s division I get super excited. It’s a whole other level of competition. As I continue to grow and better myself as an Ice Cross athlete, I’m really looking forward to competing full time in the men’s division.

What are your expectations for the rest of the season?
My expectations for the rest of the 2020 season is of course to defend my title. With the junior division growing and the skill level getting higher, it’s going to really put me to the test.

How did you first get into action sports, you were pretty much born into it?
Both my parents were action sports athletes. Not only was I born into it but in 2003 they got the opportunity to build Woodward a kids action sports camp. So I also grew up around it. To this day, action sports has always been playing a role in my life.

Backflips on ice? No problem Image: Ryan Taylor / Red Bull Content Pool
Backflips on ice? No problem © Ryan Taylor / Red Bull Content Pool

Were ice hockey and rollerblading your first loves? How has this helped you develop as an Ice Cross athlete?
My parents had me in skates before I even knew how to walk. They would lift me up slip my feet into skates the size of my body then push me around. I like to say I knew how to skate before I knew how to walk. Rollerblading was definitely my first love. Hockey came into my life at the age of 10. My parents though it would be healthy to try a team sport. This eventually led me into becoming super passionate about the sport. Some of my favorite memories were made on the ice. My life truly has revolved around having skates on my feet.

When did you first discover Red Bull Ice Cross? Was it always a dream to compete in it?
I discovered Ice Cross through social media. I remember always seeing it and saying “this would be perfect for me”. It wasn’t till 2017 when I got my first shot - I got the opportunity to race in St.Paul. I ended up getting second in my first race and, after that, I was hooked.

How integral has training at World of Woodward been?
Woodward is and will always be the backbone of my athletics. I don’t know where I would have ended up without it. Being able to grow up around top of the line facilities, professional and Olympic athletes, and pure fun, turned me in to a pure actions sports athlete. I was constantly either skating in the skateparks or jumping around in the gymnastics facilities.

Your father competed in the X Games. How pleased are you to be carrying on the family legacy?
Growing up it’s always been my mission to put a smile on my dad's face. He’s always been my hero and that person I look up to. I feel super proud to keep the family legacy going by having skates on my feet.