Stoked to talk to you ore mi. How is your week going?
I can’t complain. It’s been pretty uneventful. I am back in the office for a little bit which is always a nice, quiet time for me. Sports for my brain.
Did you have a fun Christmas break?
Indeed I did. Patrick joined my family for the holidays and we got some snowboarding, a lot of good food & some nice bottles of wine. Oh and not to forget the peanut butter cookies!
First Christmas together?
First Christmas, second New Year’s!
Where you started skating?
I started skating in Zürich. Funny enough, there are not many longboarders in the mountains.
Who else was skating in Zurich when you started?
I was introduced to longboarding by Samy Cantieni. He was the one I skated with most in the beginning.
Who is Samy?
Samy is one of Switzerland’s Longboarding dinosaurs! He’s… hard to describe. He has a very unique personality with a good heart and a wild soul.
How did you get into skating?
I blame it on Samy. We actually planned on a snowboard day and got rained out. So he put me on wheels instead. That was early in 2010.
You never skated as a kid?
No. I’ve been snowboarding for 17 years now. No wheels. I did the ballet, I guess I didn’t quite qualify for skating.
Do you remember your first time on a board with wheels?
The very first time happened because of another really good friend of mine. It was on a shorty and it was steep enough to gain some speed. Away from him I rolled & then realized that I didn’t have a clue how to slow down! I was waaaay more stoked when I tried the longboard years later.
What is Fibretec?
Fibretec is a Swiss Skateboard brand based in Zürich. The bestest!
When did you fall in love with skating?
When I first took a corner with a hand on the ground! I couldn’t believe that this actually worked! I got obsessed with practicing.
All of it. The hand on the ground, the position of the feet, the sensation of going fast- ish haha and turning safely! I just couldn’t believe that I was skating. I felt like I was 10 again.
What were you practicing for?
Myself. I wanted to get good at this.
When did you find other people to ride with?
I got involved with the Swiss crew pretty soon after I started. Samy knows everybody and did a great job introducing me to Fibretec and all the people involved. As well, I ran into a bunch of international guys soon enough.
What is the Swiss crew?
It’s not too big of a crew. When I started, it was basically Christoph Haller, Samy, Ramon Königshausen, Benni Hass and Benjamin Malherbe from South Africa.
What was your role in the community?
I didn’t see myself as part of a community back then. I was happy that they took me on skate adventures every now and then!
I still don’t consider myself a very important part of the Swiss community. Maybe, because I often skate with international people rather than with the locals here. It is easy for me to get in touch with people. I guess that makes it easy to be a part of a community. I enjoy sharing adventures and meeting new people around the world.
Where did your adventures take you in 2010?
My first event was the “Zeltlager” in Jungholz Germany, where Almabtrieb was hosted. After that, I heard about the races and decided that I should try that the year after.
How was Zeltlager?
Zeltlager was a lot of fun! I got the bruise of a lifetime. And so much stoke that I could win a war with it.
What did your newfound bundle of stoke allow you to do?
Work less and skate more!
What was it about skating that let you want to devote more of yourself to it?
That’s really difficult to describe. I was always a very active person and I am very ambitious & passionate with what I do. I sit a lot in my job, so I compensate that with all kinds of activities. The skating brought the aspect of traveling to the whole story and made it really interesting for me to spend more time doing it.
Your board is like your passport to the world?
Skateboarding is the best excuse for a working professional to take a lot of time off and travel. A dream opportunity that you can go for or not.
What is Zurich like for skating?
It’s perfect to practice. We are legal on 30km/ hr roads in Switzerland and on side roads without sidewalks. There is one part of the city where the roads are decently steep and pretty much all of it is in the 30km/ hr zone.
How did you prepare for the races in 2011?
I didn’t prepare much. I do a lot of sports and did a lot of snowboarding the winter before. My first race ended up being the one in Norway. The Ekstremsportsveko in Voss.
Did you enjoy Voss?
Yes I did. It was a great lesson in skating in the rain! And I learned that there are countries in the world where living is even more expensive than in Switzerland.
How did the mountains outside Switzerland compare?
Switzerland is still home turf and an incredible place to skate. I found a lot of different challenges in other countries though, that need a different skill set. It is good to get used to skating different surfaces and different types of road constructions.
What other races did you do in 2011?
I did the Euro Tour (Kozakov, Teolo and Insul), I went to the Broadway Bomb in NY and got myself a ticket to South Africa in December.
What was the highlight of that season?
I think there were many, since it was my first race year. I remember the thrill of Kozakov and the lovely environment in South Africa.
How did you find Kozakov?
Kozakov is mind blowing. It is fast, technical and decently long too. I was crazy happy that I could skate a road like that. Two years ago I felt very humble there. Now I just really enjoy the challenge. And there is still sooooo much more I need to work on.
What is South Africa like?
In South Africa, I found real stoke. The one that comes from the heart. The people are incredible and the landscape is breathtaking. I feel like I could go there anytime and feel safe and secure, surrounded by friends.
What were you riding then?
Hehe, that’s almost embarrassing. It is still the setup I ride now. A customized carbon fibre Fibretec Flying Pan. The trucks changed to Aeras, the wheels are those orange ones from California, with the lovely crew. Orangatang!
Haha the only other person who has had the same board for too long is Jolanda – is this a Swiss thing?
Hehe! Aaahh, that’s great! I love my board and it is perfectly fine, so I don’t see why I should get a new one. For this year I have to admit though, I was thinking about a shorter wheelbase. Who knows? I also consider doing the “Chris McBro” thing: collecting tech- inspection stickers for years and years.
Are any of those your sponsors?
Orangatang is supporting me and is a great crew to work with. I really enjoy the structure of how they work with their ambassadors. Fibretec is heart but doesn’t support riders financially.
When did you get sponsored?
I made a rider portfolio and sent it out to a bunch of contacts I had made. After the Euro Tour, I had my first supporters. Yet, I don’t really consider myself a sponsored rider as I pay most of the travels myself.
How did you do in the 2011 season?
I finished 3rd in the IGSA World Cup Series. That was more than surprising for myself. And suuuuper rad!
What made it special?
I think the fact that it was my first season of racing together with a number of other things that all of a sudden worked really well in my life! I felt very fortunate and happy in many ways.
What did you do to finish so highly in your first season?
Oh, maybe I just didn’t party enough.
Which race party do you enjoy most?
If people read any three interviews, they’ll know.
Do you read a lot of skate stuff?
Not unless it is actually interesting and different. I am very busy with writing and producing things for skateboard related projects, so I often end up working again after work!
What sorts of things do you produce?
I am actually an architect and got myself into 2D work. Graphic design and branding caught my attention. The latest project is the graphic for the Triple8 Pro Model EPS Helmet for P-Swiss. And all the graphics for Greener Pastures “Offshore”.
Do you ever throw in secret skate features into buildings?
Usually I try to smuggle in a squirrel somewhere! But… psssst!!
When did the squirrel thing start?
That should have been back in 2007 or ‘08. Long before skateboarding anyways.
Who is P-Swiss?
That guy! My better half. Friend, skate and travel buddy, sexy lover, funny companion.
What is Greener Pastures?
Greener Pastures is a video series produced by Patrick Switzer. It is a project that is funded by different companies in the longboarding industry. The first series was filmed in Switzerland with nine international riders.
For me, Greener Pastures represents perfectly where longboarding stands at the moment. It is a great opportunity that is given to us here and I am fortunate enough to be a part of it. In other board sports, similar projects seem to happen more often. The low budget in longboarding and the lack of people willing to deal with the circumstances make it a unique thing to produce something like “Offshore”. Greener Pastures is like a window to a next level of opportunities for future riders.
Where is longboarding at the moment?
Oh, that’s a difficult one to answer again. The snowboard industry has been shrinking, skateboarding is complaining and along with all that, longboarding probably isn’t doing quite as well anymore either. Yet, the guys who are doing well these days opened doors for a new generation of wild longboarders. The ankle biters are ready to attack with incredible skills. Riders are slowly starting to realize what their worth to a sponsor is and how they can make themselves useful for a sponsor. The companies in return see that a rider won’t make it to all the races if all he gets are socks.
It sounds really nice when everybody talks about the family vibes, but in the end, all we want to do is skate as much as possible. But money doesn’t just fall from the sky. Not even in Switzerland. It is great to see good friends from all around the globe on all the different continents but longboarding isn’t that much different from other fairly unknown sports when it comes to things like these.
Longboarding has grown up a little bit since I’ve been a part of it. I think that’s a positive development.
Where is it headed?
I hope that this process will carry on and that there will be more than a handful of riders in the future that get the possibility to live from skateboarding!
Sounds like I do. I don’t! So this statement is rather fictional.
I don’t know where longboarding is headed. But what I see at the moment makes me feel positive.
What is the next level of opportunity for future riders?
Referring to other board sports again: firstly, there should be more than a handful of riders who can actually live from longboarding. That means there will be more money for less team riders. That would make it exceptional to be a team rider and therefore a team rider would have to actually represent the brands he/she is supported by. I am not sure if many people would go for the commitment if it comes down to deciding. And I am not quite sure if that many people see how much unpleasant work comes along with being sponsored.
Apart from all that, if we can push the juniors to become smart, fast and technical riders with brain and heart. I hope they’ll get the opportunities to skate the world and spread the love for the board without having to worry what they eat the next day.
What is the unpleasant work that comes with being sponsored?
Unpleasant is maybe the wrong term. It can get very time consuming to keep everybody updated, to constantly update all the social media networks. You are representing a brand. I consider it somewhat important to do this well in order to be a “good” team rider. That takes a lot of time as all of a sudden you have many contacts that want to be taken care of.
What was your role in the first series of GP?
For the first one, I asked them if they had stickers. I ended up doing the graphics, some posters and a bunch of moustache stickers. Along with that came the trip where I got to skate with the guys (just not in the video). I helped out wherever I could and ended up cooking quite often. Funny that.
How are you getting involved with season 2?
My official project title for Greener Pastures “Offshore” is graphic designer, art director and production assistant. Sounds pretty good, no?! Phou, I am getting excited!
We learnt a lot from GP Switzerland and we are better prepared this time. We will start an “indiegogo” campaign very soon to be released. It is a crowd funding platform where you can get yourself awesome special treats! Keep your eyes open & we’ll keep you posted!
How will this GP be different?
Different location, different riders, some new supporters. This one will highlight riders that do incredible stuff with their boards but are not as well known as the last crew we had.
Will you be featuring in front of the lens?
I am mainly behind the lens & might be able to skate as guest rider. But I’ll be happy if I get to skate a bunch at all!
Who can we expect to see?
It’s a fantastic crew!
What do you do when you’re not skating?
I am an architect and I work for nightnurse images at the moment. We do renderings for architects mainly. It is a very creative job that I really enjoy. It feels like great quiet times when I am not on the road but behind the screen.
How was last year for you?
Last year was quite the rollercoaster!
I did a mega tour starting in May. Pat and I got a home on wheels! Big expectations from my side. I started really successfully by winning the Catalina Island Classic. I learned a good lesson at Danger Bay by going from 1st to 4th and I won Jakes Rash afterwards. Sometimes, when you expect too much from yourself, your body finds another way to slow you down. I fractured my wrist at the Britannia Classic and was out for 6 weeks. I am a disastrous patient. But it gave me time to develop my skills behind the camera, to work on things I couldn’t have otherwise and I had time to figure out what skateboarding had become in my life.
I only started skating again just before Kozakov. That was pretty unfortunate plus it rained again for the finals so I didn’t do too well there. But nevertheless I had a great time on the hill as I got the chance to do crane car runs with the 3 heads.
I managed to finish 3rd in Teolo which gave me some more confidence again. This year’s Euro- Tang Team was incredible again. A wild crew of international Orangatang riders who make the four weeks in Europe a very unique adventure. I had to admit that injuries take time and once the bone is good again, the work in your head starts. Looking at that, I am happy that I finished ranked only one spot back on the 4th.
How did you get back to full fitness?
I did some physio and took it easy. Luckily it was nothing complicated! But bones need their time to heal up and I am not 13 anymore. I was bummed about Maryhill and then again when I realized that I wasn’t quite myself yet for Kozakov.
When did you feel like yourself again?
I always felt like myself. Maybe with a tendency towards grumpy at times, because I couldn’t skate. And with my arm, it’s still not 100% back to normal but after the Euro races I was confident enough again to slide on it.
Was racing in North America different to Europe?
Quite a bit. The North American mentality is different. They eat, party and communicate differently. It is a very authoritarian society. When you tell all your people what is wrong instead of teaching them how to do it right, you’re basically growing one big kindergarten.
Nevertheless, the races I got to do were fun. And I can definitely get used to Sushi in Vancouver, Cali sunshine and a big burger every now and then! Oh and this might be the place to admit my love for old American cars.
What were your expectations before Maryhill?
Maryhill is a magic place. The yellow hills with the beautifully constructed, black, windy road between the windmills. I wanted to skate this road SO badly.
Where did you ride after the Euro tour?
On home turf. September to December was a bit tricky for me and I really enjoyed the great company at home. My roommate took me out to skate and showed me a bunch of new things to work on. Funny, that I didn’t quite progress as much as I wanted on tour but once I was at home on my chill- hill, things worked all of a sudden!
You live in a skate house?
Hehe! I live in an adult skate house. Martin Siegrist moved in earlier this year.
What has been the highlight of your time together?
I was on a skate trip for the Easter weekend and I was starving on the way back. I got a text message, Martin said he was cooking and asked if I was hungry. The beginning of a good friendship!
What was your favourite thing about 2012?
Simply the fact, that I can keep my job and be on the road for such a long time. It is fairly unusual to find such a position.
What are your plans for 2013?
Greener Pastures “Offshore” is coming VERY soon. But my highlight will definitely be a trip to the far east! Once I am back, I’ll be so full of stories that I’ll knock on your door again. Afterwards the race season starts again. Unbelievable, how full the schedule for 2013 is!
How do you think this season will be different?
Traveling isn’t always as easy as it seems. Many lessons had to be learned and I feel like I can take things easier. I know where my position is & where I want to be.
I wonder what the IDF races are going to be like. After Calgary, I was sure the IGSA would disappear. Now they decided to split up into two associations just like it happened in snowboarding years ago. It will probably mess up the race schedule a little bit but I haven’t paid too much attention other than trying to schedule my time off work to be on the right continent in time.
What was the long term effect on snowboarding?
The snowboarders split in two. As far as I remember, it was about the Olympics and that they had to collect points of the one association in order to start at the Olympics. Many riders were left undecided and unhappy.
Do you see something similar happening here?
We are still a very young sport and I hope having two associations will develop into something positive for the riders. Time will tell.
Will you be involved with the IDF?
I told Norman and Liz right at the start that I’d back them up. A constant lack of time doesn’t allow me to actively support them at the moment. But it is a capable team and I hope to attend many well organised events this year where riders get to skate lots.
Pick 3 numbers between 1-40.
2, 14, 29
14 – If you could have any super power what would it be?
Teleport / read someone’s mind / teleport / read someone’s mind… hmmm..
Teleport! … I loved Star Trek.
29 – Is there anyone dead/alive you’d like to skate with?
I wish I could go for a skate with Marty McFly!
It’s been so good to finally have this little conversation with you buddy. Had fun, hope we get to hang out soon!
Thank you very much Gbemi! It was a pleasure to answer your very detailed questions.
Stay safe! And I don’t remember ‘talk soon’ in Yoruba.
Any thank yous?
Definitely a huge THANK YOU to my team at nightnurse images! And of course to Orangatang, Vicious Grip, Triple 8, Fibretec and Fred Optiker for the support.