Alex Dehmel is a super bro who is a familiar face on the race circuit. He tells us about working with his bro on O&H, the german downhill league and his adventures in NorAm with Leon “baustrahler” Ritter.Halo Alex, Guten tag!
Guten morgen Gbemi.
How are you this lovely Saturday morning?
I’m fine, just had my second coffee.
Got any big plans for the weekend?
There’s gonna be a big meeting of all the German longboard clubs in our backyard, so many people from the German scene will be here tonight. Smells like a big party.
What club do you belong to?
Our club is called “rbsrm ev”(RollbrettSportRheinMain eV). We founded it last year to push the scene in our region.
Which one has the best party?
The whole thing with clubs and associations is pretty young in Germany. At the moment, more and more clubs are being founded, so I can’t really tell. My guess for the best party is team Stuttgart, but we will see.
What’s on the agenda for the meeting?
I don’t really know what’s going down. I just came back from Spain a couple days ago, that’s when I heard about the meeting in my backyard! I think the dlbv, the German main association, has some news for 2014/2015. The only point that’s for sure is beers & safety meetings after the official thing!
Why does the scene need these clubs?
In order to organize good events, it is really helpful to have official institutions like sport clubs. It sounds way more legit if you call the city council as an officially recognized club, instead of a bunch of skaters that want to get a street closed for a race or freeride.
What is the dblv?
The dlbv, “DeutscherLongboardVerband”, is the umbrella association of German longboard clubs. As I understand, they will be sanctioning the German races in the future. They are also helping our sport to be recognized in the German sports association.
Who set it up?
Oh, it’s pretty embarrassing, but to be honest, I don’t even know exactly who’s involved with it. I know Stephan Maul from Stuttgart is one of the main founders, but there are also other people behind it. I’m sure that I can tell you more about it after tonight, but I’m a rider and not too much into such political things haha.
What did the rbsrm ev get up to last year?
Mainly we were busy getting the official paper stuff together and trying to make plans for this year. As I said, it’s pretty young but I’m sure we will bring up some interesting events this year!
How does the dlbv help you to have more fun?
I hope that they will help us to have more events with bigger budgets. That would mean more fun for everyone and I think that’s exactly what a good sports association should do.
What kind of events would you like to organise?
Yesterday, I organized my first mini-outlaw race during our weekly city cruise. That was pretty fun. If we can set up a bigger race in the future, I’d be super stoked.
Will you get to compete in your own races?
I’ve only organized one race which only had like 10 competitors. I didn’t take part and I think if I ever organize a big race, I won’t take part. I think race organizers should first try to make all the other riders happy before they take time to skate..
Which of those places gave you skateboarding?
I started skateboarding when I was 10 or 11. We did street only but our environment didn’t really like it so we got kicked out of all the good spots. Thanks to my brother, I discovered longboarding six years later. I was living in Rüsselsheim at this time, but I wouldn’t say this place gave me skateboarding, well maybe it was the boredom of this town. Longboarding helped me to get out of my area and travel all over Europe.
Did you travel around Germany before you discovered Europe?
My first event was the insul freeride in 2008. I still remember how scared I was when I first drove up the hairpins. Boris Schinke and Alex Dietz were the unbeatable pros at this event. I also visited some cruiser meetings inside of Germany at this time, but we quickly discovered the sick events all over Europe and started travelling there in 2009. In 2010, we did our first complete euro-tour.
What setup did you ride then?
I was riding an old o&h dh-prototype (pretty long and narrow). I think my trucks were pogo base-plates with gog 200mm hangers. My wheels were whatever somebody sold me for a cheap price I still have the board in my living room!
Were you and your brother a 2 man skate gang?
My brother and I were a 2 man gang since I was born, so of course we turned into a skate gang when we started skating. We spent many hours together, learning how to ride and we sometimes still have very good sessions with just the two of us. But we were never the only skaters, we had a big and sick crew from the beginning.
How has longboarding affected your relationship?
Our relationship has always been very good, but since we started longboarding, we work even closer together. I work in his company, so he technically is my boss now haha. We can work very well together and often come up with good ideas. We have also travelled many thousands kilometers in our car, the yellow flash, going to events all over the place.
“Many people travel to nice places and because they don’t know what to do there when they’re there: they just sit at the beach, eat and get drunk all the time. I’m really happy that longboading gives me a reason to travel. We may sit in the car for hours, but we know that we are going to skate an epic place when we get to our destination.”
What do you enjoy about travelling?
I think I could fill many pages of a book about the pleasures of (skate-) travelling. Many people travel to nice places and because they don’t know what to do there when they’re there: they just sit at the beach, eat and get drunk all the time. I’m really happy that longboading gives me a reason to travel. We sit in the car for hours, but we know that we are going to skate an epic place when we get to our destination. We stay in the most beautiful places on earth, up in the mountains for days just to skate. I’ve also met so many good people from different places, learned about foreign cultures and how to live outdoors. I don’t want to miss any of these experiences.
Where is your favourite place to skate?
This question is really hard to answer because I have seen and skated a lot of awesome spots around the globe and I know that there is a lot more to see. Right now, I would say my favourite place to skate is Spain. They have good hills all over the place, good weather and I met some really nice people there. Or maybe the French Alps. Or maybe my backyard mini-ramp? It’s really hard, I just love to skate anywhere with good friends and a good mood.
How did you get ready for that first Euro tour in 2010?
I don’t think I’ve ever been so well prepared for a skate trip. We were four guys in the yellow flash, each with his racing and camping gear, clothes and tons of other stuff. The car was really packed and we almost died in the back seats but we had everything we needed.
Has the Euro tour changed over the years?
For me, the tour changed every year. At the beginning, I didn’t really know what was going on, I didn’t know how to race and how to travel. Everything was new to me and most of the time I was watching the races from the outside cause I didn’t make the cut. Now I’m trying to be a bit more “serious” about racing, so my whole experience of the tour changed.
I think the tour itself improved over the last years. We have more good organized events and everyone gets to skate a lot more thanks to some updates of the race system.
What is crucial to becoming a good racer?
I wouldn’t say I’m a good racer yet, but what helped me get better over the years was trying to watch my body a little bit more. If you don’t smoke too many cigarettes, you will feel less tired after a long run or a hard push. if you don’t get drunk the night before skating, your legs won’t be shaking and your head will feel way better. Also some additional training in the gym can help you to improve your all-over skateboarding-skills.
Does being ‘’serious’’ guarantee more fun?
That depends on what you call serious. Being a little ‘serious’ in forms of not drinking too many beers, not smoking too many joints or sleeping and eating well before skating really helps me to have a lot more fun skateboarding because I have way more control over my body when it’s fit. I think everybody has more fun skateboarding when he is skating better.
“Being a little ‘serious’ in forms of not drinking too many beers, not smoking too many joints or sleeping and eating well before skating really helps me to have a lot more fun skateboarding because I have way more control over my body when it’s fit.”
What have been your most fun tours?
During the past years I have travelled with many different crews to many different places. Every trip was a unique experience. Some of my favourite travel buddies are “The Canadians”, the rischtisch crew, my Spanish friends around Pablo Quiles and of course, my German team around my bro, Matze, Leon, Hertler etc.
Can someone join your crew without a beard?
I think if you are a nice person and good skater we might make an excuse but don’t take it for granted.
What Euro tours have you enjoyed most?
I have really enjoyed every euro tour with its own stories. One of my favorite tours was 2011. My plans were only reaching to the first events. I was on the list for every race but had no car and no plans. It turned out to be a super sick trip and I made lots of new friends.
Was Verredichio your favourite stop?
Verdicchio was definitely one of the highlights of the tour. Federico really knows how to organize a good event, the track was awesome and everybody had a very good time. Fede and have been good friends since then.
What other events did you do that year?
The first was the la familia challenge in the French alps. After this, I went to the confortable race close to geneva and then did the whole IGSA thing with the Canadians.
What setup were you racing on?
I think back then I was riding my good old dh93, Can’t remember which trucks. Probably some worn out randals or paris.
What is O&H?
Olson&Hekmati was founded by my brother Olli and Björn Hekmati. They started to make boards around 2005. For some years I’ve worked for them. Right now, I live in a nice apartment in the same building as o&h and our skate shop, asphaltinstrumente. I’m really thankful to have the opportunity to work with what I love.
Have you always ridden your brother’s skateboards?
What’s your role in O&H?
Right now I’m helping with a lot of things. Some of my main works are laminating, pressing and shipping. But I also help with a lot of other stuff like organization, product development, IT-related stuff and helping out in the shop. And of course, o&h is my main sponsor for longboarding, without their help I wouldn’t be able to live this way.
Are there many German’s making skate stuff?
As you might have noticed, Germans can be really nerdy on stuff sometimes. They like engineering and coming up with new stuff. Some are smaller and some are bigger. German brands like Risch, Pogo, Skoa, Root… are good examples for well known, high quality manufacturers from Germany.
You guys gave us BMW and Mercedes, is there such innovation in any skate products?
German cars are known for their high quality of manufacturing and innovation. Maybe some German skate products can match these standards, but this has to be judged by someone else.
Who else is in the O&H family?
The o&h family has always been big and it’s constantly growing. At the moment, we are around four guys in the manufacturing; of course olli and björn and our skate team. We also have many close friends that skated with us from the beginning and we have a big Christmas party with everyone every year to celebrate the family.
Word! When did you get on Vicious?
My friend Justin Readings helped me to get in touch with Les from vicious two years ago. They already supported me with their super grip last season and I’m happy to be equipped with vicious this year as well!
What’s your relationship with Risch?
Stephan really helped me a lot in my life as a downhill skater. He has always believed in me and supported me in many situations. He is a good friend and one of the best skate trip moms and race organizers in the world. He has done a lot for the scene and I’m really thankful for his work!
Have you tried the new Skoa trucks?
Yeah! I’ve been riding them for a while. I got some of the first protos and I’m super hyped on this truck!
How are they different from other precision trucks you’ve tried?
To be honest, I was riding fucked up cast trucks most of the time before skoa hooked me up. And since I’m on skoas, I never had the need to try different precision trucks. There are a lot of precision trucks on the market right now and I have only seen a few that look very deliberated to me.
When did you free your mind?
Cult hooked me up in 2012. I’d met Darren and Rich on a skate trip to Spain a while before. They are awesome guys and they are for sure some of my most important supporters! Racing without wheels is not possible and the cult always takes good care of it’s followers.
How was your 2013?
It was a very exciting year. I travelled to North America for the first time and had a super good time with Leon and all our friends from over there. I also had a lot of good trips in Europe, a lot of things happened in 2013. If 2014 is as half as exciting as last year, I’d already be stoked enough!
Are we going to see Germans on IDF podiums this year?
I’m sure about that.
Are the burgers as good as the hype?
How hard is it for European skaters with no big sponsors to do the American circuit?
I have really good supporters for a European skater, but still I have to pay for most of the travel and event costs on my own. Without any support or rich parents it’s nearly impossible, I think.
Would we see more Europeans in the top 10 if there was more money here?
I think that would be possible. Doing the whole circuit is almost crucial for a good ranking and without the travel costs covered, nobody is able to do it. But as the sport grows, I hope more guys from here can go and race on another continent.
Do you think this will ever change?
I think if longboarding keeps growing as it is right now, we might have a chance that budgets for racers increase. I know that there are some more important things to pay for in marketing than a good racing team but it’s also necessary for an authentic image.
Was the racing there different?
Racing in America actually felt a little different to Europe. You can feel that the sport is way more accepted by the people and they are very competitive. Euro events often focus on a good party, food and camp ground (more like a festival). North American events focus more on the competition. They are very well organized during the race day but at some events we didn’t even see a camp site! But of course there were some really good parties and campsites at american events as well (Angies!!).
How scary was Angies?
The most scary hill I’ve ever skated. It took me a whole day to get down that hill in a reasonably safe way. But accelerating so fast and racing at such high speeds was one of the greatest feelings ever, I really want to go back there!
What did you learn in your time over there?
I learned a lot of interesting things about the culture in Canada and the US. Literally everything there is bigger. The most important thing I learnt is that it takes a lot more time than four weeks to discover the whole west coast!
What gave you the biggest smiles on that trip?
Thanks to my travel mate, leon (he is known for his perma-smile called “baustrahler”) and all the awesome people we met, we had to smile almost all the time.
What new things did you experience last year?
This would be way too much to tell right now I think. I’ve been to north america for the first time, travelled to many new places and met many new people. Experiencing new things is the one of the most important things for me..
How is the Euro downhill family?
I really love the European scene. I have friends from all over the place and I can visit them any time and people can always come to my house. It’s a great feeling to be part of such a big family that is growing every year.
Do you have more fun racing or freeriding?
I enjoy both racing and freeriding. Races are a fun way to skate and compete with others and get the international scene together but I prefer the way of skating in a freeride session. You can skate a lot more if you’re just travelling with your friends in one or two cars, but races are an important part of the game.
How is 2014 so far?
I’ve already been to Spain twice and also travelled a lot inside of Germany. We have a lot of work at o&h and the shop at the moment, so 2014 looks like it might get an interesting year.
Why did you decide to open a shop?
While o&h was growing, we discovered the lack of a core skate/longboardshop in our area. It had to be done so we did it. The first shop became too small after one year and now we are in a really nice location, connected to the o&h workshop.
What do you sell in the shop?
We sell pretty much everything we think a good skatehop should have. All kind of decks, trucks, wheels, hardware, protection and so on. We also sell some selected shoes, clothes and accessories. If you’re close to mainz you should say hello, it’s worth the visit!
How much fun did you have with the Salsitos?
Being at the salsito house was a very big pleasure. Pablo is a very good friend of mine and skating with his at his home turf is one of the best ways to skate the maximum time. He knows every spot and has unlimited motivation to skate. I really appreciate that. The house is also very sick and the skaters staying there are always in a good mood. I will try to go back there as soon as possible.
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
At the moment I’m really struggling with my budget, but I want to do the whole IDF euro tour and if possible – Angies and Pikes Peak. My brother and I are also working on a new project that might be important for me this year.
Super Mario brothers wear overalls, and Dehmel bros have some too – is the project A video game?
Unfortunately, it’s not the downhill-video game we are all all dreaming about. I can’t tell you too much right now but some infos will be released soon!
Pick 3 numbers between 1-40.
19, 16, 6.
6 – What is the strangest food you’ve eaten?
I don’t think I remember that.
16 – Have you met anyone famous?
19- What is/was your favourite video game?
Thank you for all your time bro. Stoked to finally do this. Good luck this season, hope you beat all the Americans!
Thanks for the interview gbemi! Hope to see you soon.
Any last words?
Thanks to everyone who supports my skating and everyone on my way having a good time with me!
Photos by Oli Dehmel