Featured rider: Olivier Gires

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We hope you have as many laughs as we did during this conversation with rad skate Dad – Olivier. He tells us about the scene in Munich, riding with Lenny and INSUL!Halo Olivier, how are you?
Fine, thanks. Yourself?

Great. How is your week going?
Well, working! Everything is good. In the meantime, planning for a skate weekend with my friends here in Munich.

Is that where you’re from?
I live in Munich, Germany, moved over to Bavaria in 1995. I am originally from the south-west of Germany, near Freiburg. 

How did you get into skating?
As a kid in the late 70s, just like everyone did on small fibreglass boards in the backyard. But nothing really serious. Then, in 2008, Lenny (my son) and I passed by Boneless skateshop in Munich and somehow got hooked up with longboards. Andi and Vroni (owners of the shop) were so helpful and really turned in to friend of us.
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Was skating big in Germany in the 70s?
Surely not as big as it was in the US, but yes, kids skated! I loved it. Even though I was never really good at it.

Have you skated in all the decades since then?
Nope, I didn’t. Somehow it stopped in the mid 80’s.

What is the Boneless skate shop?
The reference shop in terms of longboards, oldschool pool deck and skateboards in general. Greatest selection, huge knowledge, and family feeling. The owners skate themselves, Andi being an excellent downhill skater. Boneless is kind of a family affair. I feel very well there and Lenny gets so much support from them! Thanks.

What sort of skating were you doing in 2008?
Started like everyone with a little bit of cruising through town. Lenny then started saving money for a DH deck. A Landy Spud with Randal DH trucks and 90mm Flywheels! Myself, after a short episode on a Dervish swapped it for a Landy Drop Wedge. This is when Lenny and I started our first “Downhill” experiences. Haha, 40 km/h felt like a huge DH experience!

Who was more hooked, you or Lenny?
Both. We actually started and skated a lot together.

What kind of skating does the Munich terrain offer?
If we talk about Munich itself and close surroundings, a bit of stand-up sliding, a whole lot of pool skating (excellent pools here!). That’s basically it for us/me. But! We have the Alps and Bavarian areas to skate fast. So it´s a decent mix, but DH comes a bit short in Munich itself.
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How did skating change when you upgraded from your Dervish?
I realised that I absolutely don’t like flexy decks. Skating changed in that I moved more and more into freeride/DH. I still use a board to get around town (well at the moment I tend to bike more), but most of it is stand-up sliding, freeriding, DH and pool skating. From 2010, my sights were set on freeride/DH skating. Lenny had his first race (Almabtrieb) and from there on we planed skating and travelling every year.

Were you and Lenny improving at the same rate?
Of course NOT. Lenny was 11 when he started and his skills are far superior to mine. He’s far more dialled and technically clean. He was always far better than I and he skates the Euro tour every year in the Junior category (IGSA and IDF), so his experience is huge. Nonetheless, we skate some runs together at events and this is surely one of the most enjoyable things for me (hope for him too…). So, to answer your question: he does things with ease and I have to train a lot.

Did you encourage Lenny to race at that young age?
He wanted to skate the Almabtrieb in 2010. So I supported him as much as I could. Arriving there, I felt a bit nervous. The Almabtrieb track is fast and long. Lenny’s first sight was a bus full of all the guys he knew from Concrete Wave magazine, Mischo Erban, Scoot Smith, K-Rimes etc etc… Was a great experience for all.

Were you with him at all the races in 2010?
Lenny did three races in 2010 and we went together. Since then, Lenny and I travel together to freerides and races every year in our VW van.
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Who else travels with you?
A couple of guys from Munich and Stuttgart. Lenny has long-time friends in the juniors and we meet them often at freerides and races. Some Swiss boys and girls I totally like, the DTC family riders with Alex. The Boneless Crew. I certainly forget many of them, sorry. I really love to see all of them during the season! I got to know so many great people from all around the world. The Rayne makers, Les and Graham and many more!

What did you enjoy about freeriding?
The “Free” part of it! Not waiting for time trials, skating with buddies, not thinking about which line to take. Doing stupid things and having fun. Arriving at the bottom and everyone has this huge smile in his/her face! It´s just the fun part of DH skating without the stressful thing of competition. Well, that’s my perspective. Lenny likes both and seems to feel comfy in races too.

How does it feel to have this unique hobby with your son?
Best thing ever! It kept us together at a time when other fathers and sons have almost no common things. In this respect, we are a team.

Who were the first people you met skating?
Andi and Vroni from Boneless, the Munich skate crew with Konrad, Alex. Stephan Risch etc. Then, early on at the races, we met great people like Bekks Gemperle, Mischo, Alex Ulrich, Christoph Batt, Les and Graham, well just everyone Lenny and I love to hang around with.
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What is the core of the community in Munich?
It surely centers around the skateshop with Andi and Stephan Risch from Risch helmets, but it grew tremendously in the past 2 years. Younger, excellent skater like Yannick Gladow push the scence in an impressive way. So the real life gathering occurs at Boneless but exchange happens a lot via Facebook too.

How did going fast change skating for you?
Adrenaline? Yes, adrenaline! The feeling of a sweeper in tuck probably reflects it best for me. At the limit of grip. It also changed skating in that it obviously pushed the limits and thereby rendered all skating below these limits pure fun, with no fear of what could happen.

Are there any other skate dads?
Sure! Uwe Dederer from Stuttgart, Gunnar Kalb from Frankfurt. Both excellent friends of mine whom I skate with since our beginning in 2009. Greets guys! I also met a couple of other mums and dads during the Euro Tour, Quin Finocchio´s parents, with whom I had an excellent contact, for example.

What was the highlight of 2010?
When I started to learn to deal with speed and, then, watching Lenny heading to Risch Corner at the Almabtrieb at roughly 80k before dropping his footbrake in front of the hairpin.
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Were you scared?
Myself, yes sometimes and still speed above 80k can definitely cost a lot of my nerves. Concerning Lenny? Nope. I never had the feeling he is not in full control. So no, never feared he might hurt.

What was the hardest lesson to learn about skating fast?
Footbrake sucks. But it still remains my better option haha. I realised soon that some days are perfect for skating fast and everything comes naturally, without thinking too much, while others simply do not really allow to feel comfy. I am 43, I learned to say no on these days. A lesson learned!

What was the first race you atteneded?
I think it was Insul Cup in 2011. Nope, a small race in Austria. Actually, the Austrian Championships in 2010. But the first bigger one was Insul Cup in 2011, yes.

Why did you decide to compete?
To get the option to ride a closed road! To know how it feels in a competition, which meant taking the freerides, warm-ups and both quali runs for me! Haha. I am too bad and too old for competition. This is for others and it is absolutely ok like that. I had my competing times in sports when I was a teen.

What other events did you attend in 2011?
Verdicchio in Italy. Great event! Thanks Fede and Roberto. You are good guys. Then Kozakov, but only Lenny raced it. And won.

Did you see Fede in ISPO?
Unfortunately only very briefly. ISPO is always a whole of talking with many people I haven´t seen for a couple of months.

What is your favourite event?
I like smaller freerides like the Koffee & Schnapps series in France, Verdicchio was great, the freeride at the former Almabtrieb track, that is the kind of event I like to skate myself. In terms of race and thrills: ALMABTRIEB on the 2013 track!

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What has been your favourite year of skating?
2013 cause it was an excellent mixture. Lots of pool skating, DH, freeriding. Yes 2013. Attended one race myself at Grim Mountain. It was a good year.

First time skating in the Czech republic?
Yep! Then back in 2012 Kozakov and in 2013 for Grim Mountain IDF race.

What are your favourite things to do on your board?
Sweepers. I love faster sweepers! Skating with my buddies, knowing how we all react and getting close as possible. Seeing Ronan’s wheels at 20cm of my hand in corners. And I really enjoy stand-up sliding, although I suck at it.

When did you start riding bowls?
Three years ago, I think. Great counterpart to DH skating! And we have excellent bowls here in Munich!

Who are you favourite people to skate with?
My son, the unknown French (Ronan) and Benni from Augsburg, all the guys from the DTC Family (cheers guys!), Munich Crew with Andi, Konrad, Alex, Yannick, Timm, Stephan, and more, Bekks, Hack from Freiburg who spent hours designing a board I love, and two special people from Freiburg, Felix Druschel and Ann-Kristin “Muddi” Mayer. I surely forgot some, sorry! Oh yes! All those fucking fast “kids! Jan, Pedro, Gero etc. You are the best!
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Where did your skating start last year?
A bit of skating in Stuttgart with friends at the great Killesberg spot and then the German championships. Actually, it rained two days in a row, so Lenny skated and I played tourist… Great racing day though.

Who organises the German championships?
The crew around Matze Ebel, Reini from SKOA trucks, Christian Maier etc. Goooooood guys! They helped us immensely during the set-up of the Almabtrieb 2013 as well. Good friends. All that was under the roof of the German Downhill League DLL with the legendary Eimer as a race director! Without him, so many things would not happen in terms of DH races in Germany.

Who is Eimer?
What a question! Eimer is probably the most well-known race director in Europe. He was in charge of numerous races such as Almabtrieb, Kozakov, Hälden, and many more in the earlier days.  

How has his experience helped the skaters in Germany?
Simply in that he set-up race schedules, heats, race modi, etc. So he brought in all his huge experience in how to organise the race itself, not talking about the event.

What is the German Downhill League?
DLL is actually part of the German downhill federation and is in greatest parts the work of Eimer. He initiated DLL to the best of my knowledge. DLL organises various races in Germany and pushes the sport a lot!
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When was the German Downhill Federation started?
Last year, think.

What does it aim to acheive?
A race series in Germany. Small but well organised races in Germany with a global cup to win.

What’s your role in the organisation?
None, except I like Eimer and he hates me sometimes when I ask questions while he´s busy… haha, Eimer, I like you! You like me?

What is the history of DH skating in Germany?
I am probably not the right person to be asked, since I am not long enough in the business. From my perspectives, DH skating in Germany is strongly associated with the Almabtrieb and thus with Stephan Risch. Then, there are ever since super strong riders in the area of Stuttgart with Bassi Haller, the former world champion, now Sebastian Hertler etc. So there was always a strong field of starters in Germany and Almabtrieb had 10th anniversary last year!

Who is Stephan Risch?
He´s the guy who manufactures those flesh-coloured Risch Cult wheels! hahahahahahaaa. No, Stephan is one of the icons of DH skating, organiser of the Almabtrieb, handcrafter of Risch aero helmet (they are soooo ugly man! no, joking! superbe piece of art). And eventually, Stephan is a friend! Mama Risch! So Kevin Bouaich, who calls me Papa, might argue we are parents for some.
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When are you and Lenny going skating outside Europe?
Probably next year would be the most interesting. Lenny would turn 17 and enjoy his last IDF year. But hey, so many things happen when you grow up.

What’s your relationship with his sponsors?
I hate them all! haha. They are friends I would say. I am in constant communication with them. I see Andi and Vroni (Boneless) regularly, chat a lot with Alex from DTC wheels and Les from Rayne Longboards and Vicious (now Cameron Frazier whom I met this year for the first time when he came to ISPO), had lots of contact to Garnier Crew leathers, Tina from Zibeline beanies, and had lots of fun with Alex from Wefunk!

Are you also nearly sponsored by affiliation?
Kind of! No seriously, Boneless, DTC and Rayne are generous to me! In return, I am doing my best to be there if I can help out in any way. But clearly the focus is on Lenny as he races and rides a lot. I am a by-product those guys have to bear.

What has been your favourite moment of skating with Lenny?
With Lenny: 2012 Riding the former Almabtrieb track behind him and seeing what lines this boy takes.

Watching Lenny: Seeing Jan Dederer and Lenny arriving next to each other, 2011 at the Insul Cup, in the last corner. Goosebumps.
On video: the last edit from Lenny that was filmed by Mikel Echegaray-Diez at the Almabtrieb. Insanely clean ride and amazing filming by a great guy. Muchas gracias hombre!

How has this year gone for you?
Well, skating only just started. I enjoy stand-up sliding currently. Lenny grew tall, actually my size, so I look forward to his skating with the bigger ones. Stephan Risch and I laughed a lot at each others´ sliding attempts, I am stoked by how Yannick slides at speeds I can not even dream of. So, yes the year started great.
Another source of stoke came from the fact that I started riding fixed gear on an everyday basis to work. Lovin´ it!

Bicycle love > skate love?
Haha my girl might say both far too much! The perfect day is having my board on my back and cycling to a spot to skate. Both simply complement each other so well. No need to measure and compare!

Are we going to see a German IDF race?
Quite a good question. Don´t know yet. Ideas obviously exist, but I am not the prime person to decide on that. Stephan is in contact with sponsors for the Almabtrieb 2014. Open issue at present!

Would you like to see Almatrieb or any other race under the IDF banner?
Yep! Why not! The track and race are super fast. Why not having it under the IDF banner.

What are you looking forward to this year?
Insul! Insul cup is the German Championship this year and I like this track a lot. So yes, Insul. Surfing with Lenny in Portugal. And I am definitely looking forward to finally learn how to f####g toeside stand-up slide.

What would you like to say to parents who are afraid of letting their kids skate?
Support them so they can do it safely! Let those kids do what they like most, so they can develop best. Oh, and skate with them! You´ll understand why your kid loves it so much. I totaly understand Lenny´s passion and share it.

What do you do when you’re not skating?
Working! Travelling as much as I can. Cycling. Spending time with the ones I love.
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Pick 3 numbers between 1-37.
37 sounds like a weird number. Picked!
Let´s say 1-19-37

What will the psyche claim now?

You will have a great bacon sandwich tomorrow afternoon!
NO! Wrong! I am a vegetarian! haha.

1 – What would you do if you were President?
Push ecology and stop those stupid SUVs in cities. Promote DH skating. Ask Lenny what teens want from their president (and then do the opposite! no, joking).

19- What is/was your favourite video game?
Clearly space invaders!

37 – If you could commit a crime and nobody would know, what would it be?
Fuck, why did I pick this odd number! Transfer the money around the world in a more decent and balanced way.

You’re the 2nd vegetarian I’ve interviewed this week. What’s happening to the world? It’s been such a pleasure doing this. Sad I missed you at ISPO, but we will meet again! Big hugs.
Same here! Thanks for all man. Was a great pleasure!
The answer to your question: the world is getting better!

Any last words?
Well, thanks for the chat! Thanks to all the lovely people in the community! I´ve seen so much, learn a lot and had intense moments I would have missed without skating.

Thanks to:
http://www.boneless-muenchen.de/
http://www.dtc-wheels.com/fr/
http://www.raynelongboards.com/
http://viciousgrip.com/
http://www.zibeline.de/contact
http://www.garniercrew.com/
http://alexfoerderer.de/

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