Women’s Longboard Camp rider interview – Simone Brutsche

Women’s Longboard Camp rider interview – Simone Brutsche

What started off as some sort of pipe dream is now an initiative attracting riders from the four corners of the world – the Women’s Longboard Camp project is in its fifth year. To celebrate, the crew around Fee Bücheler and Christine Maier are putting on three events of three different formats in three different countries in 2016.

For Simone Brutsche, the upcoming freeride camp in France will be the fifth WLC event she is attending. Read on to find out what makes her tick and what motivates her to come back time and time again.


Interview with Simone Brutsche

WLC rider interview – Simone Brutsche

Hi Simone, please tell us a little about yourself, where are you from, what do you do for a living and which other sports do you engage in?

My name is Simone and I am 30 years old. I started skating at the of age 26. I originally come from Freiburg in Germany, but I’ve been living in Switzerland for the past 17 years. I work as a consultant in one of the biggest advertising agencies in the North West. Sports are very important to me, it’s how I offset a sedentary day job. For the past 9 years, I have been practising capoeira several times a week – it’s great for flexibility and in turn complements board sports really well. At the weekend I go running, longboarding and skateboarding. Apart from that, I cycle every day, in almost every weather.

How did you get into skating?

To lure my godson, who was six at the time, away from the TV, I gave him a skateboard for his birthday. Obviously this made me the coolest auntie with the coolest present. When we went to a nearby ramp that day, I could hardly wait for him to put down the board so I could have a go myself. Bottom line is, I ended up spending more time on the board than him that day and that’s when I decided to get one myself. I did some research and decided to get a longboard. Unfortunately my godson went down the scooter route, however as for me, I discovered a new hobby.

WLC rider interview – Simone Brutsche

What do you like most about skating and what kind of skating do you enjoy most?

It quickly became obvious that I’m not so much of a dancer, I like to get a bit gnarly. I really enjoy sliding, proper downhill is still a bit too hardcore for me though. I’ve also discovered bowlriding or well, skateboarding, this year. I find it fascinating how skating is a lot about dealing with fears and how you have to overcome them time and time again in order to make progress. I’ve never had jelly legs and palpitations as bad as when I’ve been on my board. If you then land a new trick or learn a new skill, that makes for a combination that is simply addictive.

How did you end up at WLC?

Phew, that’s such a long time ago now…the first time I came to the camp was in 2013. I think I discovered it through our local longboarding group on Facebook at the time. It sounded great and I was curious, so I signed up.

This August will be your fifth time at the camp – what motivates you to keep coming back time and time again? Are your reasons still the same or has anything changed over the years?

Initially it definitely was only about longboarding. I was impressed by how much progress could be made in such a short amount of time with the help from the crew and a bit of perseverance. Once I had grown fond of both the crew as well as the riders you meet each time, it wasn’t just about the sport anymore. At the very latest since Portugal, some great friendships have formed and now the camp is like going on holiday with friends for me, something to which you look forward like crazy long in advance, with heaps of fun on the board.

What’s your favourite thing about the Women’s Longboard Camp?

I love the community spirit among the girls. Every single one – no matter how different we may be – receives a very warm welcome and is integrated into the group, there is no reserve and when you’re on board together, you support each other and celebrate everybody’s successes as if they were your own. In every day life and at work, you sometimes face bitchiness and competition among women, it’s not like that at all at the camp. I also think it’s great to meet like-minded people from different countries. The riders are not only from German-speaking countries, but often from Finland, Poland, the USA, the UK etc.

With what sort of mindset do you enter WLC, do you set yourself specific goals you’d like to achieve in terms of skills?

For the most part I’d simply like to improve – generally speaking, with everything I do without any specific goals. It’s a lot about overcoming fears. In that respect, my aim is to progress just a little – baby steps. But it always ends up being a massive leap forwards. Sometimes I set myself goals for a specific day, for instance at the last camp in Stuttgart. All of a sudden I just really wanted to be able to drop in on a ramp, even though I’d only ridden a skateboard a couple of times before then. In the few weeks prior I wouldn’t even have dreamed of that. But almost as soon as the goal was set, I had smashed it. Christine from the WLC crew prepped me extremely well with some progressions and encouraged me to just do it. She gave me a helping hand 3-4 times and was so stoked when I finally managed to do it on my own.

How would you evaluate your progress over the years?

Hm, I tend to be quite modest so I’m cautious to comment on my own progress. What I can say without a doubt is that I feel so much safer on my board after each camp. However, there are days when it simply flows and then there are days, or at least hours, where you feel like you can’t do anything right. If you then change just a little something – unfortunately you often don’t realise what it is that’s going wrong – at least that’s how it goes for me, which is why I am then very grateful for the crew’s advice and tips – it all goes swimmingly again. I notice that all of a sudden I have the confidence to try things on my board which until recently seemed just impossible and so far away. Also, I’ve never been as proud of myself as I have been after my first few hours on a skateboard, and that really means something.

WLC rider interview – Simone Brutsche

What do you benefit most from at WLC and how do these experiences translate into other areas of your life?

I’ve had ignorant comments like “Jeez, you’re a 30 year old woman, skating is for little boys!” on several occasions. Accordingly, I’ve felt somewhat uncomfortable in public. You meet so many like-minded people of a similar age at the camp that you walk away with a very different type of self-confidence. Because you considerably improve your skills and develop more confidence, you move differently on the road – both on and off the board. I also notice that capoeira and board sports complement each other well. Due to capoeira my balance is above average I would say; skating also contributes to this and I think that this also gives me an edge at capoeira. The social element has also triggered quite something in me: I feel more at ease to get chatting to strangers, especially other skaters, and am generally more open.
Womens-only events are often associated with bitchiness etc. At WLC however we witness time and time again how total strangers from all ages and walks of life become friends within a short amount of time.

What’s your experience with this and what do you put this down to?

Personally I’ve never experienced any form of bitchiness at any of the camps I’ve been to. Sure, depending on how many girls there are, you spend more time with some than with others, but ultimately we are one big family. When the workshop groups are mixed up, it’s always really nice to see how everybody’s in such a good mood and you grow really fond of each other even though you may struggle to remember all the names. As I said before, by now some really good friendships have formed and you share more than just this hobby. You make plans for the year, such as attending the next camp together for example. To me the good vibe is down to the fact that we’re all in the same boat so to speak, there is a mutual understanding of where everybody’s at and riders of different levels support each other – it’s rewarding to pass on that knowledge. You gladly accept tips from the more advanced riders and it’s always so nice how everyone is so genuinely stoked on others’ achievements. It forges a really strong bond. Maybe it also helps that we’re all of the same kind so to speak and not really the type of girly girl who doesn’t like to get dirty.

WLC rider interview – Simone Brutsche

Would you sign up to a mixed camp?

Yes, I’d be quite curious and I’d like to give that a go. Because there’s not really that much going on in the longboard scene my town, I mostly ride with younger guys. Again there are no issues breaking the ice and you just support each other.

Let’s talk about overcoming fears through action and extreme sports. How do you deal with that?

This is indeed a big deal for me. It mainly happens in your head and you’re often your own worst enemy by not trusting yourself to do something and therefore limiting your possibilities. By now I have such faith in the WLC crew, if they tell me that I’m ready to try a new trick or something, I’ll just give it a go. Often you get obsessed with fear and it’s mind over matter if you think about it too much. Therefore I go with the just do it approach.

Last but not least – is there anything else you’d like to say on this subject?

I’ve already said so much…in any case I hope that there will be many more camps! It’s such a great initiative and many women don’t have this supportive environment to keep going in such a male-dominated sport. The camps have given me such a big push and also strengthened my confidence on the board, I wish all other WLC riders the same.

WLC rider interview – Simone Brutsche

Thanks so much Simone! We are super stoked on this, and it’s feedback like yours that keeps us amped when the going gets tough every now and again. We cannot wait to see you and our other rad WLC riders in France next month! We still have some spaces available so if you’re feeling radically spontaneous, come and join us!

For more info visit: https://hello9397.wix.com/wlcfreeride

Christian Kreuter - CK Photography

Mastering longboard photography – The Christian Kreuter Interview

CK Photography – I guess most of you guys already got shot at least once by this guy. Christian Kreuter, the Kassel (Germany) local is not only a downhill skateboarding addict, but also a passionate photographer.

What’s he up to do next, where does his passion come from and how long does it usually take time for Christian to get that one perfect shot – read through to find out more. Enjoy!

How did you start with the photography and what inspired you to focus on longboarding?

Photography drew my interest when I was a little kid, because my grandpa was one of the first guys in our area that owned a SLR (analog single-lens reflex) camera back in the days. I was embossed by countless old school slide evenings with my grandpa.

I started skating back in 2012 and because I was using my DSLR for two years already, I just gave it a try and shot my first longboard pics with the local scene here in Kassel.

One year later I shot my first downhill event, the I-Berg Freerace. I didn’t skate back then, but I wanted to get a closer look at the “pros”. I attended a few other events in 2013 for skating and shooting.

After attending the Fairytale Freerace 2014, I got some inquiries from different skaters wanting to get a glimpse of my pics. One of them was TD Longboards founder Lennart Thomsen.

He asked me, whether he could get a shot of his teamrider Quirin Ilmer and indicated me to launch a Facebook page, so that all skaters could see my pics. I thought that was a good idea and a few days later I launched the Facebook page “CK Photography”, the feedback of which was really lovely.

KnK Longboard Camp 2014 ~ Facebook gallery by CK Photography
KnK Longboard Camp 2014 ~ Facebook gallery by CK Photography

The KNK Longboard Camp later in the year 2014 was my absolute highlight. Despite poor weather conditions I had some very unique runs with skaters, who I later became good friends with. KNK was pure madness (laughs).

One week later, after I finished my post production work, I uploaded the pictures on my Facebook page and the “likes” went totally crazy. I literally reached the whole world with my work. People love their sport and I can capture those moments, this is just an awesome feeling.

Are you planning to shoot any events in 2016?

Honestly I wish I could attend every BigMountainSkate event in 2016. I really respect all the work the guys do and I wish I could be part of it with my pictures. Almabtrieb, Alpenrauschen and Bela Joyride are definitely on my radar for 2016.

OH Rider Fionn Kraft at KNK 2k15 ~ CK Photography
OH Rider Fionn Kraft at KNK 2k15 ~ CK Photography

There are some big differences between a planned shooting for advertising and shooting at events. I really know this by myself. How about you? Do you shoot “planned” shootings as well?

No, not really. As I often shoot at events, I don’t plan that much, I like to do some extra detail planning on portrait shootings and landscape pictures. Sometimes I plan skate shootings, like a shooting at noon with a flash. Here you tell the skater the exact place where to slide or do a trick, but I am more into the “real” pictures, which are not set-up.

At an event you can’t really tell the skaters how to skate and what kind of shots you would like to get. How does it take to get good shots out of an event?

As you said, as photographer you can’t plan where the skaters skate and slide before a corner. Only when you skate the road by yourself, you know exactly when something is about to happen where and when.

Tech-talk alert! You shoot with a Nikon camera, right?

Oh yes, I am a real Nikon Fanboy 🙂 I shoot with a Nikon D800 Body since 2015 and in previous years I worked with a D7000.

What I want is maximum quality and the Nikon D800 provides me with 7360×4190 pixel photos when shooting raw format (info: raw means, that the photographer has to do the final development of the picture. Shooting with .jpeg files, the camera does the development and you get a finished picture).

Chris' gear for getting awesome shots

Only the burst mode is pretty slow of the D800, but I exclusively shoot with single exposure. This means I only have one chance to get the perfect shot. So if I miss the moment, it’s forever gone.

What lenses are you using for shooting downhill skating?

I am shooting 90% of all my skate pictures with the NIKKOR 70-200 2.8 VRII. When I shoot with a really wide open aperture, the pictures are pin sharp and on point and also the focus speed is really fast. And only for about 10% of my shots I use the Sigma 35mm 1.4 ART for landscape or campground shots.

What about post-production? How do you get the perfect image done?

I don’t make any difference, if it is people, landscape or skateboarding photography – I always check my basic rules, to see if I this is the perfect image.

  • Is the focus on point?
  • Is the exposure right?
  • Did I capture the right moment?

So straight after a skateboarding event, the picture selection can take some days. When shooting a three day event, I mostly have 800-1200 picture to look at, but I learned to keep the rejects small.

And when I know the pictures that suffice my criteria I do some small corrections and put on the “CKP Look”. Right after that, I do the easiest thing, but also the most satisfying part of my work – export the pictures for Facebook, upload them and share them with all the skaters out there.

Would you share some useful tips for all the hobby photographers out there?

Sure! Here are some tips:

  • So firstly don’t focus only on one photography topic. Take a look at the whole spectrum of photography, because you will learn a lot of things from one topic which you could use for another.
  • Secondly I would say, that creativity is the next important thing. Therefore you should look for new angles and try some different camera adjustments like aperture, exposure time, or shooting with flash.
  • Last but not least, I think you should take a look at other photographers and probably try to copy them or adopt stuff you like, to find your own photography style. Also, ask questions – talking with other photographers really helps and I honestly feel happy when I can help others. So contact me anytime you want!
  • Uh, and before I forget, I have some tech-talk information for you guys out there: The lens is way more important than the body of your camera set-up and you should get your hands on fast memory cards. It is really a pity, if the memory card is too slow to capture the right moment!

What other motives do you shoot besides longboarding?

I also shoot people, landscape and travel pictures and therefore I launched a second Facebook page at the end of 2015 for those kind of pictures. As you said, I recently shot a lot of skateboarding, but I want to broaden my mind and learn something new.

The good thing with photography is that you can shoot everything and therefore it is really necessary to look beyond the boundaries.

When shooting with people, I don’t want to catch an orchestration, I am more interested in people and how they live, what they have experienced or what makes him or her special. And when I’m shooting landscapes, I am aiming to capture pictures of touching places and where I can think back in time when looking at them.

Thank you Christian for a great interview and your insight into longboard photography. Any shoutouts?

Of course. I would like to thank everyone out there who support me and follow me on social networks. I’m very proud, that i can work with BigMountainSkate and Longboard Magazine. Special thanks goes out to my family and friends:- Mom and Dad, love you.- of course Grandpa, who has shown me the path to photography- my crew: Arthur, Fionn, Al, Philipp and Elias- the „Sonnenblümchen Racing Team“: haha, if you read this you will know who i mean 😉

If you’re in town, get in touch and we skate some hills together and take some photos. Otherwise, I hope to see you on the hill soon and keep safe. Cheers!

I want to extend the boundaries of the human nature – The Steven Vera Interview

Landyachtz has been around for almost two decades. If you haven’t started longboarding just yesterday, you should know them very well by now, if not, you will get to know them soon enough for sure. Since day one, they’re pushing the scene by contributing with board development as well as supporting many talented skaters around the globe.

The team over at Landyachtz brings together an impressive mixture of personalities and skateboarding skills. Throughout the recent history of downhill skateboarding they’ve gained a well deserved worldwide recognition and have achieved a lot.

However, this year they stepped up the game by inviting Steven Vera to their OG crew, stretching its diversity more than ever.

Steven Vera © Jon Sevik
Steven Vera © Jon Sevik

Vera is American/Ecuadorian by nationality and currently 21 years young, residing in New York, where it all started for him. His positive attitude, diverse skateboarding style and life achievements at such a young age stand out in today’s crowded skateboarding scene. Getting to know and interview him was a great pleasure. Let’s drop in.

Vera’s backround

His journey on the board began around 5 years ago, back in 2010, while he was in high school in New Jersey. After graduating he moved to Brooklyn, New York for a short period before he started traveling. “The city and its people took me in like family“, he says, hence why he represents the City all the time.

Steven Vera © Jon Sevik
Steven Vera © Jon Sevik

Watching him flipping the board with such precision and so much steeze, one would probably think that he must have had a solid street skateboarding background before getting into longboarding, but he doesn’t. As he says, he loves the concept of skating in the streets though and he thanks the City of New York for that.

Street skating is rad and all but I like having a setup where I can do it all. From tre-flipping off a bank to going straight to DH/Freeride. I also like pushing fast on gusher wheels because when you’re on small hard wheels, chances of reaching from point A to B are not enough, at least for me.

At the time when Vera started longboarding, Bustin was big in Brooklyn and their OG crew (Solomon Lang, Adam Crigler, Cami Best, Marc Rodrigues, Paulie Connor) had a big influence on his drive which started gaining power rapidly. It didn’t take long for Bustin to recognize his huge potential and embrace his creative ways of skating. In 2011, he joined their team.

He had a great time with the Bustin family and he remembers the Broadway Bomb 2012 in NYC as one the raddest times they had together.

These guys took me in like family when I knew nobody in the city and that’s what I liked so much about it, for I didn’t feel like I was only representing the brand at the time, but those OGs who’ve given a positive approach to the community over here in NYC.

Back than, longboarders would often be disliked online by short sighted skaters who couldn’t bare that there’s much more to skateboarding than what they were doing. Vera was no exception, but that never brought him down. As he says, at the end of the day it only made him want to skate his style even more.

Steven Vera © Jon Sevik
Steven Vera © Jon Sevik

Showing his little brother that the possibilities of doing anything is in his reach if he would work hard for, was additional motivation that helped him pave his own way.

I don’t want to be normal, I want to extend the boundaries of the human nature, I want to be unique with my own style unlike anyone has ever seen. I want to be different.

Vera had a great time with Bustin, that’s for sure and his role in the company’s marketing was huge. But those days are now over. Talking openly about these things can be hard or somewhat unpleasant. I really appreciate his willingness to share with us the reason why he left, showing that he’s an open and honest person as well.

I left because that good old vibe left a long time ago. And it’s understandable when a company is growing to help out others but in my opinion, you should always remember who backed you up when you started. No beef though, I wish nothing but the best for the company and its riders.

The business of skateboarding

Some skaters have a hard time mixing business with skateboarding. Some might feel that combining the two alienates the reason why they started skating in the first place.

Steven Vera © Jon Sevik
Steven Vera © Jon Sevik

Feeling like being a marketing tool in hands of a businessman can easily lead to a loss of interest for pursuing the career as pro skateboarder. Here’s what Vera thinks about it.

Everyone has a different way of seeing it and for me, I believe skateboarding should somewhat be treated as a business if one wishes to get something back from it. Especially if you’re a company/mag/rider etc that is funding the sport in the progress. Take the Berrics for example, why do you think the future has been bright for them?

But as he points out, balance is the key.

That being said, I also believe you should always try finding the balance in remembering your roots and have fun doing it because at the end of the day, for me at least, seeing a kid of any age, any gender, be hooked on this sport and away from the negativity of this world tells me I’m doing something right.

Vera is grateful for all opportunities he got in every sense of the manner. He’s traveling at a young age, exploring and understanding different cultures. As he’s not taking part in school at the moment, though he feels that this has been his education so far and wouldn’t give it up for the world.

Steven Vera © Micheal Alfuso
Steven Vera © Micheal Alfuso
Steven Vera © Micheal Alfuso
Steven Vera © Micheal Alfuso

He’s open minded and doesn’t like staying in one field when it comes to making a living. He freelances a lot with modelling gigs, photography and projects he does with the companies he’s sponsored by. He also helps his father with his trucking business back in the east coast.

In addition to that he says:

Hell, I even work in the sponsored companies’ warehouse just because I support my companies’ big time and I always like to know what’s up with the fam!

When he started skateboarding, Vera never expected to do it professionally. Skateboarding has always been his canvas and as any artist with passion for their craft, one likes to perfect it, no matter what, he says.

A bright future with Landyachtz

It’s too soon to talk about it, I guess. But from what we’ve seen so far, Landyacthz is a company that’s loyal to the scene and riders who represent it. They obviously have a great time together and care much for each other so this sounds like a great place for Vera to settle down.

My mission is to, literally, Skate and Explore and get more work done with these guys! They really skate everything! And that’s something I’m really stoked about.

Landyachtz team @ Landyachtz
Landyachtz team @ Landyachtz

Vera hasn’t been skating in Europe yet but we hope to the see him fly over as soon as possible and urge Landyachtz to make it happen for him 🙂

Vera’s choice of Landyachtz decks

Landyachtz - The Tomahawk
Click on image to watch the video

LY Tomahawk 2015 – Vera’s Board of choice.
LY Loco 33 – when he hits the skatepark
LY Drop Carve 37 – when he’s heading to the city for a cruise and want to do a flat ground session
LY Dinghy – Vera’s go-to board when it comes to the store or running errands.

Shoutouts

Shoutout to my other sponsors Bear Trucks, Orangatang Wheels and Triple 8 Helmets for always constantly having my back and my parents!


Related links

Steven Vera official Facebook page
Jon Sevik – Photography
Michael Alfuso, Alfuso Film – Video production & photography
Landyachtz skateboards

Skateboarding is fun and always should be – The Jürgen Gritzner Interview

Jürgen Gritzner is a badass and well known downhill skateboarder from Austria. He’s also the first and so far the only Austrian who’s got his pro model deck produced by a non-Austrian company. We’ve met for a chat and talked about how his relationship with Kebbek Skateboards started in the first place, how he ended up on the RAD Wheels and Caliber Trucks flow team as well, about his alter ego “Ill Eagle” and his views on racing. Let’s drop in!

Jürgen Gritzner shredding a bowl. Photo by Markus Knoblechner
Jürgen Gritzner shredding a bowl. Photo by Markus Knoblechner

“Be true to yourself. Skateboarding is fun and always should be.” ~ Jürgen Gritzner

Hey Jürgen! How are you dude?
I’m fine! Thank you for asking. Partying and skating with the homies, you know, the usual business.

Great! To start off, tell us about how you got hooked up with Kebbek Skateboards?
It’s funny how that went down. My buddy, Felix Rupitsch (Bigmountainskate.com) was partying at a local Bastl Boards Bash and met the German distributor for Kebbek. They talked, had fun and in the end he mentioned that Kebbek’s looking for a European skater to represent them. Felix told him some s*** about me, how I love skateboarding, creating music and art, plus all other kinds of things I care about very much. It all ended up with Kebbek being pretty excited to get me on board and the next time I’ve met Felix, he asked if I would like join Kebbek’s team. I said “F*** yeah”, got in touch with them and sealed the deal. Later on, when I was already on their team, I finally got to meet Ian, the founder of Kebbek Skateboards.

That’s great. So, Kebbek was your first sponsor. How did you manage to get involved with your other sponsors? You’re also on a RAD Wheels team, right?
Yes, Kebbek was my first sponsor. Joining their team spiked up my motivation to travel to the USA and get some skate action overseas. I went there by myself and got to know the Skate House Media dudes. We were skating together all days long. A year later, in winter 2012/13, I managed to get back to the States, but this time I went with my homie Flo Wagner (Landyachtz Longboards, Hawgs Wheels) and we stayed there for five weeks. We’ve met Louis Pilloni in San Diego and showed us around the Sector 9 headquarters. That was exciting. He hooked us up with some wheels and a bunch of stickers. Loads of stickers. At some point, he finally turned over to me and asked “You wanna join the RAD crew?”. You can assume what my answer was, haha!

Jürgen Gritzner at Bela Joyride 2015 © CK Photography
Jürgen Gritzner at Bela Joyride 2015 © CK Photography

Of course, your answer was “F*** yeah!”. And you’re repping the Caliber Trucks as well, right?
That’s true, yes. It was not long after we’ve returned back home to Austria when I received a phone call from Dave Tinachi. He told about James Kelly joining the Caliber Trucks, but what really flipped me, was when said how each pro skater on their team gets to choose one “flow team rider” as well and that James chose me! Pretty rad!

What’s expected from you as a team rider for Kebbek and the other sponsors?
Basic stuff, you know. Going out skateboarding, snapping some shots and doing some other media works, like movies and sharing online. Once I mentioned that I would enjoy doing some graphics as well and Ian gave me the chance to do the designs for some flyers, stickers, posters and similar for Kebbek in 2014. Later that year, I also proposed that we could produce a promotion video for my pro model boards. Teammates Katiana Torrebella and Benjamin Dubreuil joined the party and we went on a nice skate trip for filming in a skateboarding heaven, Barcelona. My homies over at Frame Fatale from Vienna did a really good job filming and editing this movie.

That’s a great video. How did you end up with pro model boards?
After ISPO 2013, Ian and I really got to know each other. After we did a promotion tour across Europe he arranged a job for me in a German company where he was working as well. We talked a lot about skateboarding, my visions and other stuff. I guess he enjoyed having me around and wanted to push my skateboarding even further. He kind of mentioned once something about the pro model deck, but it didn’t seem to be so serious at that time. It was as all nice and chilled until at ISPO 2014 he pulled out a catalogue with the new boards. As I had a look at it, I saw my pro model downhill and pool decks in there. A big surprise! F***, Ian just knew that I also love to shred trannies and street. I was very happy about it.

Jürgen Gritzner - Alps by Kebbek Skateboards
Jürgen Gritzner – Alps by Kebbek Skateboards

So, Ian kind of secretly examined your skateboarding mind?
Haha! Well yes, if you want to put it that way. In order to pull that off with the pool deck, he definitely had to sneak into my mind. Regarding the downhill deck, he already knew what I like. I told him that I would love it if the board would feature a kicktail to be able to play around and that a platform has to be wide enough for my big feet. The same goes for a solid concave and a rocker. He did a pretty good job! I got even more stoked about it when he included “Ill Eagle” in the graphics for both boards.

What is “Ill Eagle”?
It’s kind of my alter ego, my artistic name. For example, I build skateboards with old snowboard moulds and create lots of art pieces with my hands. And in the end, it stands a symbol of my rebellious personality and skateboarding style. I’m always flying around! Haha!

Jürgen Gritzner - Ill Eagle
Jürgen Gritzner’s alter ego Ill Eagle
Jürgen Gritzner in his workshop
Jürgen Gritzner in his workshop

Most people know you for your badass freeride style, but probably for some racing as well as you where “flying” at Kozakov back in 2014. Where do you draw a line between racing and freeride?
Phuu, I think those two are hard to separate. Personally, I think in racing there are moments and situations which almost never happen while freeriding. And this is good as it is. Those special moments give me the thrill of racing on a skateboard. Only in racing you push your limits to 110%.
With freeriding it is just all about fun, racing is really serious. I never freeride without my homies. You know, I want to enjoy a good sunny day full of skateboarding without any stress and unhealthy competition.

Jürgen Gritzner at PND 2014 © Dmitri Elson
Jürgen Gritzner leading the pack at PND 2014 © Dmitri Elson

But you are still a competitive skater?
Hm, that’s a hard question. Probably, there are times when I get extra ambitious, especially when racing. But I’m not that eager for winning like some riders out there, who are ready to subordinate everything just to win a heat or a race. I’m definitely not that kind of a skater. I love racing and getting that adrenaline rush, but some people are just going to crazy about winning. You can often see how they f*** each other up. This is not something that I stand for. What we do when racing is still skateboarding. Be true to yourself. Skateboarding is fun and always should be.

Great words and a nice closure for our interview. Any more last words, Jürgen?
Yes, I think so as well. Go out, skate and have fun. And of course big thanks to my sponsors Kebbek Skateboards, RAD Wheels and Caliber Trucks as well as a big shoutout to my homies!


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Also check out The Juergen Gritzner transportation project