I had the idea of doing something with a laughing character on the board. In the beginning I wanted to draw it and maybe use watercolors. But going with that idea didn’t really bring me to something that was satisfying. That’s when my girlfriend said why I didn’t look for old pics of myself as a kid instead of looking through the internet for inspiration. Continue reading →
I’m sitting in a train from the Allgäu all the way to Berlin. What these two places share is the country they are situated in, not much besides that.
Mountains, little villages, cows, all dominated by green in summer and white in winter, that’s where I’m from. High-rise buildings, traffic, countless shops and stores, party, all dominated by grey in summer and grey in winter, that’s where I’m going. At least this is how it would be shown in a picture-book.Or how our teachers or the media would tell us about it, narrow-minded without any interest to take a closer look.
We’ve been working on this film for quite some time, so obviously, I was eagerly waiting for the premieres. Andy has never shown the film to any of us, he wanted us to watch it in the movie theater for the first time. And hell yeah, that was worth it.
Some triple-XL blank tees, bandanas, guns. Very inspiring. It was for us, at least. It was 2 years or so back when Kevin Henshaw, Dylan Miller, Matt Bibby and Dustin O’Ferrall put up an online clip of them acting as OGs. It was hilarious, in a great way. We talked about that video sitting around at FISE in Montpellier, and at some point came up with the idea to reply to that video. Not as gangstaz that hustle even more than them. That seemed impossible. No, with a completely different genre as our medium.
Hey Steffen, how is everything, what are you up to?
Hey Nico, everything is alright. I am hanging out here in Austria, at the Ausee at my Girlfriends Place enjoying the hottest summer ever!
This year you moved back to your original homespot Thulba. How was renovating the apartment you and your brother share?
Renovating was fun but it took longer than we expectet. We started this whole project in January and planned on moving in in mid – March. But in the end it took us 6 more months to have the apartment ready to move in. Even until today it s not finished yet! All in all it was so much fun and when you look at all these things you made with your own hands; it makes you really proud. But the best experience was to work together with my grandparents, who own the house the apartment is in. They were so happy that finally something is happening there and they taught us so much stuff. After that I can say that I could build my own house.
Haha nice! Yeah the brick wall you built for the shower looked nice and straight! What does it mean to you to live back home again?
After a few years in Duisburg / The Bricks it was time to come home to my family and the Cable my heart belongs to. Tobi Rittig, the owner of the Thulba WakePark, did an amazing job the last years and really made it to one of the world’s sickest Rail Parks. It’s a shame that this era will come to an end in 2015. The owner will change again and I have heard about plans thatmost of the rails will be removed and it will become a “family friendly waterski cable”, and that really sucks! It has always been the Nr.1 spot for me, but I hope that it’ll still be after all that! So everybody out there, if you are somewhere in Germany, take the chance, go there for a ride and enjoy!
It definitely is one of the best parks!
Even though you have this new apartment I feel like you have stayed at your girlfriend’s place more than you have slept in your new bed, is that right?
Yep, that’s right. It really feels like a second home for me. I m riding a lot at the cable close where she lives and i get involved a lot too.On really hot days if the queue gets really long I help out operating and coaching on their System2.0, what I enjoy a lot!
You are one of the wakeboarders always thinking about new things you could do. Tell me about the camps you do for O’Neill.
I always try to find projects together with my sponsors where I can be involved a lot. Back in the days O’Neill had the “Wake Academy” and it was about time to continue this success. Last year we had one Camp in Langenfeld which turned out perfect. This year we had Camps with 20 participants in Pinneberg, Thannhausen and Langenfeld. I didnt really know what to expect and how I should treat teammates/coaches as their “boss”. But I got along with it pretty quickly. Everybody loved the Camps and made huge progress and I can tell already that we have even bigger plans for next year!
When you are not riding you are most likely taking photos or you are filming. I feel like you got really good in both. Do you prefer one to the other?
Is that something you want to do more and more? Well, I wish I had more chances to shoot other pros, to get better in shooting and finally get my flashing dialed in! I still have so much to learn and I am just at the beginning. Right now I prefer to shoot photos because it’s less effort in the editing afterwards. Thats why I’m shooting video mainly with my GoPro. That’s the easiest and funniest way to get footage of me and my friends riding together.
It is for sure! I guess we need a little bit more footage, but then should be alright to bring out another good Thulba edit of us two soon. By the way, do you want to edit it?
If you want it to be superdupa mega amazingly superlativly sick? For sure! what are your favorite songs for the edit?
Ah, music is always a tough one… Ever thought of doing a camp where you teach riding as well as taking photos of wakeboarding?
You should suggest this to the real professional photographers; I’ll be the first to sign in!
What does it feel like to be on both sides of the lens?
Mainly its a lot of fun. Being in front of the lens for a few years helps me a lot how to act behind the camera and how to communicate with the rider I shoot. To know whats going on on each side taught me a lot for the other way around!
No one does those half-loads better than him. Massive melon grab.
To come back to your roots. You started waterskiiing, and soon were one of the first groms trying his best at contests. Any memorable stories from that time?
There were dozents of memorable moments. But what i am really proud of and i always tell everybody was my trip to the European Championships in 2002. Sitting next to all the Pros , like Flo Meeh, Benny Süß and Hardy Tunnisen, little 15 year old Steffen was on a roadtrip from Austria to Hungary, trying to show his best at his biggest contest ever! Dude. I was soo stoked! It was the best feeling ever to be part of the crew I was always looking up to. It was one of the best trips ever. But what really exceeds every single moment in my carreer was the moment when i checked into the course with a huge switch blindjudge. Dude. I was 15! HAHA
Soon you became one of the riders with a signature board with the German company New Schnitzel. I think your board was the one with the Bomb on it? What did the New Schnitzel time mean to you?
Common. I was the gunman! I mean NewSchnitzel was my first sponsor ever and they definitely gave me right directions to get there where i am today. Rest in peace NewSchnitzel!
Oops, true, you were the gunman haha. Today you are riding for Slingshot, and I feel like you have been involved a lot, right?
Joining the Slingshot team was the best thing that has ever happened to me. Everything they do fits me perfectly and I guess what I do fits them. Being a part of an amazing team makes me proud because that’s what I have ever dreamed of and one of my main goals. What makes it so special to ride for Slingshot is that you are a part of a Team and not just a rider behind that main teamrider in some kind of a ranking. Jeff McKee does a great job and it’s so much fun to hang out with everyone of them.
Sounds like perfect support! Speaking of support, when you did your military service you became one of the few guys supported as an athlete. Did that help you for your wakeboardig?
I was really lucky and i took the chance to get out of my job to make new experiences. the first few month i was a “real” soldier and the last 14 month of my military service i had the chance to focus a 100% on my dream. Becoming a professional wakeboarder.
Because of a knee injury I was rejected from military service and think I was quite lucky. Nevertheless I guess you have some funny stories or experiences from that time during your basic military training?
Man. you missed out soo much cool stuff! the training at the beginning of my service was really hard and showed my limits. the time after this was mainly hanging out waiting for work. shooting guns. playing enemy in urban militairy fighting. That whole militairy experience was really interestig and i dont want to miss out any moment!
What are you up to the next few weeks?
We just had the last one of the O’Neill Camps in Langenfeld, it was so much fun. Next weekend Relentless Energy invited me to the Rockenheim festival. This will be really exciting because it s my first festival ever! Ill put on my #rbrh denimvest for sure! Surfexpo and worlds in abudhabi will follow up too. And a long afterseason with 4 stops of the world tour will end the season! Yeah exciting!
Always busy… thanks a lot for your time and see you soon!
Thanks.. yeah, don’t forget we gotta talk about that secret project some more talk to you soon.
Check this video out that Steffen just uploaded. You can tell how creative and motivated he is when it comes to filming. This one is mainly done with his self-made helmet mount.
He is one of the guys whose opinion I really appreciate to hear every time he speaks. It’s a day too late, but I wouldn’t want to wait till next Monday to put up his thoughts.
N: Hey Raph, first of all, you told me you hate interviews. How come?
R: Maybe I exaggerated a bit when I said hated, Hate is a pretty strong word. I think what I hate the most about interview is you are not controlling who you talk too. I don’t talk much around people I don’t know so well and I have always been this way. I share my thoughts with people I know around but I don’t enjoy talking to someone about something when I don’t think they will have a clue of what I mean at all. I talk and I can sound so cocky or sound like I am telling people how to think and that I am right. I also feel like you heavily tall about yourself in an interview.
N: Usually you are not speaking out loud directly, you are calm and quiet. But in recent time you have put your word out a lot in magazines and videos. I enjoyed talking with you about wakeboarding very much. One thing you told me was if you were a team manager you would do your job a lot different from how most of them do it right now. In what way?
R: I’m not here to bash anyone. I would do some stuff differently maybe because I’m a rider and I have another perspective on some things.
To change up the question a little bit. I think I personally see so much more than just contest results. Marketing in wakeboarding is so unidimensional sometimes. There is much more than just results and it is frustrating that a lot of people only focus their marketing around results.
Let’s just take Mitch, He was the best boat rider there was back in the days. Won all the junior pro contest, got hurt and stopped getting results. Started riding rails without getting too many results at first and it is like people forgot how sick Mitch is. Mitch is the shit. He rides like he wants and doesn’t give a F*ck. But the real important part is that he’s got style and he represents something on and off the water. It’s crazy to see the lack of love he gets from the industry sometimes. He’s 21 I think. I don’t know Mitch that well but I can tell you that.
N: You are someone who sees a lot of lack in wakeboarding, especially when you compare it to other board sports. I assume you are getting bored of it sometimes as well. What do you think about wakeboarding as your job though? Would you prefer to do something else as your profession? Or do you think you are living your dream? What would have to change so you would say you do live your dream as a pro wakeboarder?
R: I think about that everyday. I don’t think I get fulfilled just by wakeboaring. I just see so much more than just wakeboarding. It is a huge part of my life because it is ultimately what I do the most and I always think about creating new projects around it. Most of the stuff around me, I relate it to wakeboarding. But I could be the best wakeboarder or win a big event and I would not wake up fulfilled where I am so stoked and nothing else matters if you are alone or if it is alone in the process. After everything is done what was all of this worth. Because if you get to that level you obviously took a lot of time doing it or traveling or whatever. You made a lot of sacrifice towards that career and I just find it sucks if once you accomplished most of all what you wanted and realize that there is nothing that amazing about it if you sacrificed everything around it. Even if I only ride 5-7 months a year, as a young kid I was just really focus on wakeboarding so hard. Except for snowboarding, I don’t think I had a lot of other passions. It’s like now all I want is everything I wouldn’t really do maybe when I was younger. I don’t know, I think whenever you grow up and get in the real life or this case the industry you realize it is not like you portrayed it. Never as beautiful as you thought. That’s my way of appreciating things more. I couldn’t appreciate just wakeboarding but I couldn’t appreciate just all the other things kind of.
N: We are out of Olympics 2020 and I don’t think you are really sad about that. Where do you think wakeboarding will go in future?
R: Pretty stoked about it.
It s hard to know where wakeboarding will stand. System 2′s seem to be running the show and it looks like they will for quite a bit now. The whole industry is tilting towards them. I think air tricks will slow down and that the boat industry will get closer to the cable scene and probably become one whole. I think it is kind of weird how one event can change the whole industry’s way of riding. One Wake Open and now the go to is to be well rounded rider.
N: Obviously you are on the road quite some time, but still try to be at home as much as possible. What does home mean for you?
R: Home is where I always been and where I am from and I don’t want to forget that. Sometimes when I look around me I find it crazy when I see everyone quitting a big chunk of their life to go pursue their “dream”. It’s cool to have that opportunity but I don’t know. It’s not like you do it for a year or two. It becomes what you do for a living for a really long time. What’s left after all this is really what I am confronting myself with everyday. I love building new rails so that you hit different stuff and really session it. Go skate with your friends. Have friends around a fire, play guitar. That type of stuff. I always try to figure out what I like the most and what I really want to do so that I live it the way I really want it, of course it is not exactly like that but the idea is there.
N: When we talked about girls you said you don’t think there can be close “normal” friendship between guys and girls as either side would always think about more. So does friendship in a way that you hang out together a lot and talk and do things together mean being in love?
R: Do you need advices?
I can only talk for myself on this since this is what I have experienced but there there are exceptions for sure. but even then how much do you really know.
The easy way out would be to say it is a different kind of love if it is love.
N: On the first night of the day you came back from a long trip you got really good tickets from a friend to go to playoff finals with him and your favorite hockey team is in them. But you haven’t seen your girlfriend in a long time and she wants to go out with you that night. What do you do?
R: I go see my girlfriend really quickly and convince here going to the game is the right thing to do and I’ll see her the next day. You aways want to start that procedure couple days before the actual day.
N: Thanks for sharing your thoughts, appreciate it.
There has been a lot of discussion in the web lately about wakeboarding and what should be done or not. „Air tricks are so gay“ – „Air tricks are a crucial part of cable riding, damn all those who think they are gay“ . Yep, discussions got a little bit off track and offensive. But they have been very prosperous as well, and I would especially like to thank Tom Fooshee and Marc Turtle McNamara for their elaborations on air tricks and pre-spinning respectively.
A lot has been said already and this shall not be a page of redundancy, but there is one thing I want to point out some more as it still worries me when I think about where wakeboarding will go.
In the last couple of weeks I was on the road with a lot of other pros and have had great times. We led some interesting discussions, actually most of them were more like gatherings of similar thoughts. Amongst these riders we all agreed on what we think wakeboarding should be like. Something legit, with focus on making tricks look good. Being creative. Putting effort into perfection of a shot. Especially those of us who have been filming with Andy for The Debut know this, and I can tell what a good feeling it is to know you got the shot in a way you will still be happy with it in a year from now. Hanging out with these people made me a little blind about how wakeboarding is out at the parks.
A really nice contest this weekend, The Big 30, actually opened my eyes again. This was one of the coolest events especially for up and coming riders in Germany, everyone had loads of fun. But watching a lot of the young guns ride I realized how many care about, in my opinion, wrong aspects of wakeboarding. Kids were doing crow 5s and 900s this weekend, it was a pretty intense level. But it made me realize how they only care about that extra 180, instead of executing tricks with less rotation properly, and then adding there own style to it. A 360 off a rail feels pretty good when you come out of a nosepress, but a 180 would be so much better if the press was actually held the whole way through the rail. They did that even though the format was one that wouldn‘t necessarily let the one with the harder trick win. As you can go at least as hard on the bigger kicker hit with the longer grab, or as technical with the locked in press through the whole rail.
I really hope that the everyday-shredders start to realize that it is fun as well as an important step to learn tricks in perfection so that you can put in a grab, then hold it longer, then tweak it a little bit. Then try to improve it even more, or try a different grab. Instead of going to the 900 a week after you landed your first 5.
Too many forgot that style is a step between every new trick when climbing up the ladder of progression. Step by step.
Felix is one of the sickest riders out there, super technical on rails and really creative. He lives not even 3 minutes from my home and we spend a lot of time together, at home in Allgäu as well as somewhere in the world. Here is some questions from friend to friend.
You dislocated your shoulder in practice for WtL last week, how did you do since then?
My shoulder still hurts, and I have to wear this big sling, so I can´t do to much right now. Thats why I´m online all day long.
It happened the fourth time now and you are thinking about getting surgery. How long would recovery take and what are your plans for the rest of the year then?
The recovery takes three to four month for me to be back on the water. So I might go somewhere warm afterwards, to film with Andy for the Debut and hopefully have at least a couple good days on the board this season.
What about CheerwithAndyandFelix?;)
Pssssst! That´s still secret…
(Oh yeah Nico, can Andy and I borrow your camera in fall?
Since last year You’re working for Sesitec. How is that for you? How is workshop life? What is the funniest story from there?
Working for Sesitec is awesome, I work 80 hours a month so i have enough time for all wakeboard contests and shootings I planned for the season. Workshop life is most of the time a lot of fun with all my colleagues, but sometimes you rather would be at a cable park somewhere in the world and wakeboard. There are way to many funny stories from the workshop, but I would say the best time is when we all have barbecue and some beers together after work. (Thats where the funny stories happen)
What are your plans for the future concerning working?
Definitely working together with Sesitec, and be part of the Family. It´s perfect for me how it is right now to have the possibility, work while i´m at home and go wakeboarding and travel the world as well.
You had a girlfriend in January. For two weeks. How was that?;)
She was a nice girl, but she wasn’t the right one. So i´m still searching…
Out of your last ten Facebook and what’s app conversations, how many of them are girls?
Hahaha, ähm a couple.
You woke me up in Hamburg with a surprise, that was a funny story…
Yeah, we were in Hamburg for the Red Bull Rising High secret session to try out this big Kicker with landing. Unfortunately I dislocated my shoulder a week before that so I couldn´t ride. So my job in that whole week was going out every night. I took my job really serious and did that. One night I was in a bar and met this german raper which nobody knows but he showed me a song from his album and I was stoked (I was super drunk). So I decided to take him to the hotel and let him rap for you, because everyone knows- Nico loves German hip hop. We got to the hotel room and I woke you up and said “Hey I brought you a surprise.” You put on his glasses and saw that guy. So I just said to this rapper dude “Now, start rapping”. Haha I fell asleep and can’t remember him rapping.
For the first Mag Mondays here is an interview that UNION did with me. it was a tough one, but it probably helped me find out some more about myself. Check out the original here! www.unionwakeboarder.com/overflow/13wordsnico/
Is probably the best thing that happened to wakeboarding in the last years. I am really proud of my dad who has the best cable company, Sesitec. Cable brings wakeboarding to so many people and made obstacle riding what it is today. And I am pretty sure it will play an important role forming wakeboarding in the years to come.
Is actually the wrong word here. There are almost no obstacles that would be worth of being called a rail. But we’re getting there, people like Raph, Henshaw or Shredtown show where obstacles have to get to. With wake parks and UNIT they become accessible to so many riders that the only direction this can develop to is the right one.
Is losing a lot of attraction right now. Personally, I love the feeling of landing a nice Front to blind tailgrab. But on the other hand I never really cared about stepping up my air trick game. You can get so much more creative on obstacles. But if by Flatwater you are talking about the first lap on perfect glass in the morning, damn, that is one of the best feelings in the world! (either/or, Nico)
Through all the travels I have been lucky enough to do I really learnt to appreciate Germany. It simply feels good to come back home. We have great food (from ourselves and everything we get from abroad is very good, too), we are advanced in things like mobility and sciences, and we are pretty much leading in environmental awareness. Germans are reliable, but maybe a little too distanced sometimes. I have true friends here, and family. I love the Allgäu, the region in the Alps where I am from, and think I will always call it home.
Is such a great place to be at. Aussie mentality is awesome, I loved how all the people seem to care about making sure that whatever they do is joyful. Maybe thats something I miss in Germany, that too many have forgotten to do things for the fun of them. I really wanna come back and see more of the country, enjoy some more surfing, meet some more inspiring and great people, and party with them!
Is sooo difficult. You fall so much, and even if you landed a trick once that doesn’t mean you will fall the next hundred tries. So I really have lot of respect for what these guys can do. And unlike wakeboarding, there is not a lot of things they do that are not legit. I can’t wait to see what will go down on the wakeskate tour this year!
Well, it is why I am doing this interview, right? I love it. It has formed my life. I have made it my job, what a great thing to call your passion your profession! I am really happy to have snowboarding back home to always keep wakeboarding attractive to me as well.
One of the best things is to see when someone rides for the first time and you see that glint in his eye. The same glint that comes with the good feeling from a newly landed trick, from a spray in the corner or from a session with your friends.
Living life to the fullest is what you should always do, but I guess you might never live as active as when you’re young. I love being young, there is so much to do, so many opportunities. These also mean that there are a lot of decisions to make, small ones as well as the ones that might form the rest of your life.
From time to time I think about how it will be when I’m old. How I will be. And I look forward to it, because I will always try to keep youth in myself and enjoy what I will be doing. Possibly on a complete different level, with other or more solid opinions, thoughts and beliefs, built up on experience and wisdom.
There are opportunities every single day. We always have the choice to make the best out of our current situation
I am really thankful for all the opportunities I had through wakeboarding
I don’t really know any poems, but one that I do know is about change. Nothing lasts forever, so we should never be too bound to one thing, we should always look forward to what comes next and what change brings. The last verse translated goes like this: “Courage, my heart, take leave and fare thee well!”
Beginnings are beautiful and exciting. Or scary. I think I am pretty positive, so either way I try to make the best out of it. Sometimes it is even cooler if you start something new that is scary in the beginning, when you don’t know what to expect, but it turns out great after all.
Beginnings can be really hard too, there is many things I would like to start with but keep pushing back. Keep trying to motivate oneself then, I guess;)
If it is sad one there will be a new beginning to get happy again. If it comes to an happy ending, there will be a new chance to go through another even more exciting story. I believe even after death this will go on. So there’s nothing to really worry about!