Really fun chat with the European Junior I Champion. Young Lenny tells us about skating with The Rat Pack, the joys of being able to ride with his dad and he dispenses some sound advice for riders young and old.
Hey Lenny where are you from?
I am from Munich, Germany!
When did you start skating?
I started longboarding at the end of 2008 when I was 10. Actually, in winter ´08, so 2009 was my first real skating year!
You never rode a skateboard before that?
Yes I did! Pool skating a bit before, but no longboarding. I sometimes used the pool deck as a commuter and at the Keyhole pool in Munich.
What’s the Keyhole?
Keyhole is a pool park in Munich with a small and a large pool with a classical shape (shallow and deep ends, stairs).
How did you get into longboarding?
Haha, very simple! I walked across the Boneless Skate Shop in Munich. Looked in their window and definitely wanted such a board!
What is the boneless shop?
Boneless skate shop is THE longboard and skate shop in Munich! Vroni Oettl and Andi Gniadek are the owners. They have the biggest supply here in Munich. And they are family! Two years ago, they picked me up in their team. PROUD!
What was your first board?
Hahahaha, funny DH board from my present point of view. It was a Landyachtz Spud with Bear Grizzlies and 93mm flywheels! Back then it was difficult to find bushings soft enough!
Why did you need super soft bushings?
Well, because I only weighed like 40kg by then! Normal bushings were too hard and the boards weren’t turny enough.
Is there a big community in Munich?
Definitely yes. Lots of riders and a core of riders, mostly around the Boneless “family”, with whom we ride downhill a lot. We have all ages here. Well, maybe except really young DH riders.
Who else is in the boneless family?
Well, there is Andi and Vroni, Aika (the dog), Markus Suchanek, who is an oldschool pool rider, Alex Plötz, Konrad Leupold, Stephan Risch, numerous street and pool riders like Andi Spießl, Slalom and DH rider Dominik Kowalski. Actually, it´s a big family and I certainly forget to mention some. Sorry guys!
Who are the young downhill riders in Munich?
Unfortunately, there are no “DH groms” in Munich. Except from adults, I mostly ride with junior friends from Stuttgart (Jani & Pedro), Frankfurt (Gero) and Freiburg (Lukas). The RAT PACK!
What sort of riding do people in Munich do?
One can find everything, but people are mainly cruising, carving, sliding etc. And then there is a bunch of riders, who go freeriding and DH skating together. As I said, many of them met through the skate shop and now skate together at events, races, and around Munich.
What sort of skating makes you happiest?
Definitely, DOWNHILL! Fast freerides, technical courses with hairpins and stuff! And, most importantly, I like riding with my buddies! That is the most important thing. Riding in a pack with my friends, smiling and laughing, when we are at the bottom. Pool skating just rounds it up.
When did you start skating downhill?
I started a bit with of downhill skating in 2009 and then attended my first race in 2010. It was the Almabtrieb 2010, which also was the IGSA World Championships.
How does one gain admission into the Rat Pack?
Hahahahahaaaa, very difficult! No admission! It´s just the five of us. We always ride together. Inseparable kids! Pedro, Jani and I have known each other for three years now! It´s all about friendship! Jani and I for example had hard “fights” on the track at the Insul Cup last year and at this years German championship. Overtaking each other many times. But hey, we are friends and everyone of us is happy for the other, when he wins. It´s skating together, competing, but together!
Is there a uniform you guys wear?
Nope! We´ll have a logo done by a tattoo artist, who is a friend of my dad’s. Maybe shirts and hoddies, don´t know yet. But it´s more a matter of riding together and being friends!
Your dad supports you skating?
Yes he does. Well, he started skating at the same time I did and also rides DH. We travel to all events and races together, and have fun together.
Wow! What’s the best thing about having a skater dad?
Well, he understands and definitely shares my passion, knows about the sport. It´s a strong connection between us! Thanks skating.
Does anyone else in your family skate?
Why did you decide to start competing?
First, I really like it. I like racing. Competing means you get the best roads. Also safe riding, so that you can check your own limits, in a pack with others, and thrill, adrenaline! A second push towards competing was that Alex Luxat, the owner of Wefunk Skateboards had seen a little video of me on the spud. He asked my dad: would Lenny like to ride a Wefunk deck? At that time, Alex just came back from working with Toyota Formula 1 and was starting to build boards again. Actually, I got the first one he built after his comeback. So YES! I wanted in! And this is how I became a proud member of the Wefunk team and started competition.
Your first race was an IGSA world championship, that must have been a huge stage!
This was really a great event for me! I met Quinn Dubois, whom I knew from a Concrete Wave article, Jani and Pedro, all the groms from the ALBV, and many other cool riders. We had a great time all together and it was an amazing thing for me. The track is super fast and technical, soooooo much fun! During the finals, I was in second place then I collided with Philipp (who got first in the end), fell, and ended in fourth place. Sad, but hey… It was worth it!
4th place in your first race isn’t bad!
I am very happy about it! First I was really disappointed because I fell, but then again… I was content with it.
Are you the only grom on the WeFunk team?
Yep! The team is simply mad! It´s Alex, Kim Andersson (the Viking), Yann Labat, and Stefan Downhill.
What do you ride?
I ride a topmount foamie carbon 37” deck, which Alex tailored to fit my size. Amazing deck! Light, stiff, made of prepreg F1-grade carbon, GOG Trucks BB2 with 160-180mm hangers, Vicious grip, and the amazing DTC wheels!
Keeping it European!
Yes, except for Vicious grip.
Whats special about your deck?
Well, it´s the best deck haha. It derives from the Mach 1 Stealth Division Wefunk deck, but is slightly shorter, with longer flares at the backfoot and variable wheelbase options. Mine’s called 37” Interceptor, yeahhhhh.
When did you get the rest of the sponsors?
Vroni and Andi (Boneless) picked me up in 2010 shortly after Wefunk. They give me support in all kind of things like trucks, wheels, shoes etc and a whole lot of friendship! In 2011 I met Alex Ulrich, the owner of DTC, at the Insul Cup in Germany. He presented his new wheels to the public, the victory grip, aluminium core, handcrafted wheels. We bought a set, I was hooked! These wheels grip insanely, are the most predictable and slide smoothly. Boris Schinke, who is an experienced German rider and DTC team rider, spoke in my favour and Alex picked me up in the DTC team on that weekend shortly before the podium. Very happy again! At a freeride I met Tina Zobel. She is handcrafting beanies and she provides me with those cool things from Zibeline. Last but not least, Les Robertson and Graham Buksa took me in the Vicious Griptape team at the beginning of this year during their trip to Europe. Frank Beste from GOG Trucks and Stephan Risch (Risch helmets) also helped me with Groms’ discounts and parts. Thanks to ALL! It´s so cool to get all this support and super friendly help. I mean, they all really care so much without putting pressure on me.
How does it feel to race having so many people supporting you?
GOOOOOOOOD!!! I really get the opportunity to ride the best components and attend races. So I can “concentrate“ on having fun, skating, freeriding, and racing. What can I say? It simply feels really good that people I like give me all this help and trust in me.
What was your next race after Almatrieb?
I think I did a couple of smaller, regional races and then bigger ones in 2011. We first went to the Kozakov Challenge in the Czech Republic. Insane track. Super fast, narrow and so technical. Certainly one of the most intense ones. Unfortunately, it rained a lot and qualifying was done on a shortened track. Then on race day, SUN! Next race was Insul Cup in Germany, which is one of my favourite courses. Then Verdicchio cup in Italy, which represented the European Championship, since there were no other continental races on the Euro Tour in 2011.
I met so many nice people on these races! It was a good year of skating. Lots of freerides too. France (Koffee&Schnaps), Germany (Zeltlager Jungholz).
This year I will attend at least four IGSA races. Kozakov, Teolo, Peyragudes, and Montreux. Looking so much forward to it! Especially with the new deck and set-up.
What was the highlight of last season for you?
Probably my win of the Insul Cup 2011. The race was really intense, Jani and I were so close. Overtaking each other like 10 times on the track, I won by not more than 50cm. Could have been the other way for sure!
Have you done any races recently?
Yep, the official German Championship in Hälden. I got third in the open Junior class (8-17yrs) with Jani in front of me and Lukas Übelhör taking it home. Congrats.
Any plans to skate outside Europe?
Not yet, no. The races in US/Canada are mostly during my school time which makes it hard to do. But I´d love to race with the US and Canadians groms!
Where is your favourite place to skate?
I´d say Insul is certainly one of my favourite skate tracks. I like playing around at the Killesberg in Stuttgart with my friends. Not fast at all but so much fun! And I like skating the Almabtrieb track from 2010 and the former one in Jungholz, where we have a freeride once per year.
What do you do when you’re not skating?
Playing handball, chillin´ with friends at the Isar river, bouldering, thinking about skating!
What is your biggest inspiration?
I feel like I am too young to really have an inspiration! But seriously, I just want to skate. I like riders who stay calm, chilled, friendly and are fun to skate with. Just like the team riders I get to skate with. Being passionate about what I do is the biggest inspiration and skating with the team mates, who are far more experienced such as Christoph Batt, both Alex, Andi and all the others of Wefunk, Boneless and DTC!
Where would you like to be in 3 years?
Definitely still skating. Hopefully still with my buddies.
Do you have any advice for other young people who are nervous about racing?
Don´t get bothered if it doesn´t work out, sometimes life is like that. Just skate and have fun. The less pressure you put on yourself, the more fun you will have, the better you will skate.
Choose 3 numbers between 1-37
10, 1, 13
10 – What’s your favourite band?
1 – What do you take with you when you go for a skate?
My zibeline beanie and a one piece full body hooded jogging suit! Very important!
13 – Do you have a pet?
A cat named Luke
It’s been really really good speaking to you, thanks to you and your dad for your time! Good luck in your upcoming races!
Thank you as well. Was a great pleasure! See ya.
Any thank yous?
Yes! Definitelly an enormous thank you to all my sponsors Wefunk Skateboards, Boneless skate shop, DTC Wheels, Zibeline, Farbenpracht Tätowierungen and Vicious Griptape. Thanks to all the riders I love to skate with, you know who you are!