Articles

Skate World: Germany


[MUSIC PLAYING] CHRIS PFANNER: Hamburg still
has a good scene, you know? Like a lot of good skaters from
Germany come from here with the skate hall tours. So during the winter
they have a lot of opportunities to skate. You don’t have that often
in many German cities. It’s more independent, the
skateboarding scene and the mentality out here, because
there’s not too many big companies behind
it, pushing it. People do it out of
their hearts. RICHIE LOFFLER: So this
is the upper– we call it uptown, of
the shop, of Mantis. Her we have all the girls’
clothes, the jeans. TRAP has a nice clothing
line, also. It’s not something that you
really make a lot of money on. In the beginning, as a German
board brand, you were not really so accepted because
everybody looked more to America, because everything is
more glossy, and the pros were more heroes, and stuff. It’s not in “Thrasher,” and
doesn’t have ads and stuff. So it was kind of hard to open
the doors in the beginning. Here we got a nice little wall
of jewels from the past. I was a big Hosoi fan
when I was a kid. So of course, I’ve got to
have a little Hosoi board up there, too. I started skating because I was reading Donald Duck cartoons. And I saw the three nephews of
Donald riding a skateboard down the hill. And it looked like fun. So I got my mom to
buy me one also. So maybe we go to Wilhelmsburg,
first. Wilhelmsburg. -What is that? RICHIE LOFFLER: It’s a
beautiful, very old Hamburg traditional spot. It looks like waves
made out of tiles. -So where are we? CHRIS PFANNER: Wilhelmsburg. It’s this little part
of Hamburg called. It’s a school. And they have this really
amazing spot here. You’ve got to go check it out. It’s like this brick quarter
pipes, natural quarter pipes. RICHIE LOFFLER: This is where
I learned my first drop-in. CHRIS PFANNER: The architect
that designed it was a surfer. So I guess he was really
wave inspired. [CHEERING] CHRIS PFANNER: All right. RICHIE LOFFLER: Because of the
weather situation here, in Germany, a lot of skating
revolves around skate parks in the wintertime. We had one of the better skate
parks here in Hamburg. So a lot of people came here. There was also like a four in
one checkout where we got some tricks in the tube. Jan Waage, he was ripping
at that time. And then a little bit later,
Marcus Jurgensen and Fabio Fusco, and Patrick Eling. He’s still around. What up, Eling? Nice. -What’s the name of this tube? RICHIE LOFFLER: We just call
it hard boiled wobbles– like wobbles, because
it’s wobbling. CHRIS PFANNER: It
counts, though. We’re in the red light district,
one of the most famous ones in whole Europe. Naked women everywhere,
sex shows up and down the whole street. So yeah, that’s what
we’re going to do. Come along. Lucullus, sick ass
sausage spot. One big ass queue there. What’s going on? Is the sausages for free
today, or what? Well, let’s go check it out. Mouth’s all watery already. Check them out. All kinds, white ones, red ones,
thick ones, thin ones. You guys want any, as well? Sausage? [SPEAKING GERMAN] And you know when it
even taste better? When you’re hungover, and then
you’re on the way home. Before you go home,
have one last one. Nightlife Hamburg. Better than McDonald’s,
way better. It was an amazing day, amazing
night in Hamburg city. So whenever you get to Germany,
make sure you come check it out. It’s a really fun city, lots of
stuff to discover, a lot of stuff to do. Yeah, come see for yourselves. Check it out. DANIEL SPIEGAL:
[SPEAKING GERMAN] JAN KLIEWER: For Germany
it’s really a unique skateboard scene. Not only for skateboarding,
but a lot of young people move here. That’s what makes DANIEL SPIEGAL:
[SPEAKING GERMAN] -My god. JURGEN HORRWATH: The skate scene
in Berlin is actually, it’s booming. It’s blasting, you could say. I mean, all those kids come from
all over the country to skate the park. You could see the wide
acceptance of the skate parks, especially for the young kids. They come to do clinics. They come to do the workshops. We do them now, actually,
every morning. And there’s like 20,
30 kids that– they want to learn to skate. And they don’t have even
the basics so it’s quite a good sign. This whole neighborhood
is quite freaky. It’s known– it’s called Friedrichshain, but
we call it Freaklyshain. Because there’s a lot of freaky
people living there, hardcore people, that are into
hardcore music, tattooed. Anything that’s sort of like,
extreme, in a way. It’s kind of cool. That gives it a nice feel. I grew up skating street. And I had to, because
there was nothing. There was not even an indoor
park at the time. And we skated– we basically skated in subway
tunnels in the winter time. Like, just gloves, beanies,
and there you go. That was what we had then. Berlin had quite some talent,
like Sami Hirithi, and guys like him. They were actually known
throughout the country and maybe even throughout
the world. The vert ramp was actually
my idea. The actual first plans didn’t
involve a vert ramp. And I sort of came up with the
idea of building a street course around it. So we can still have all the
room behind the vert ramp that we didn’t need for decks, for
like, the street skaters. And have a big enough street
course to have international comps on. Yeah, so I just went through the
planning all over again. And just did all the drawings. And I built it myself. I have something that’s
made from cement. We were actually interested in
the way of working with some cement, goes. That’s how we came up with
this little project. We actually were building one
quarter pipe that was like two feet tall at the beginning,
and just added bits and pieces to it. And then we just realized,
hey, it’s totally doable. We can build a little
cement miniramp. Well it’s not properly
a miniramp. It’s more like a vert ramp
that’s three, four foot tall. But it’s a really fun
place to skate. It just turned out to be
one of my favorite sports in the world. Because I skate this
all the time, normally, when I’m outside. And I just love it. It’s challenging. It felt great, actually,
to open the place up. And be like, hey, what
do you think of this? Look what we’ve built. Getting the first reactions of
the people that liked it, that were actually into it? It was amazing. Especially when someone like
Busenitz in spring time said, hey, this is one of the most
creative parks I’ve skated. You get these sort
of reactions. It’s just amazing. Once you’ve made your dream come
true, and someone tells you that it was good dream you
were dreaming, and the outcome’s great? That’s one of the best
things that can happen to you, I think. You always get the people that
are sort of talking bad on skate parks. But on the other hand, myself,
I always skated everything. I grew up skating street,
parks, vert, bowls, everything. It’s all been interesting
to me. It all made my skating growing
in total, as a general thing. I never said, I’m a vert skater,
even though that’s what I do for a living. I’ve always tried to maintain
all the types of skating and make them become one
thing in the end. [MUSIC PLAYING] CLAUS GRABKE: I was born in
Gutersloh, which is pretty much the belly button
of Germany. Small town, 80,000
inhabitants. People laugh about this, but I
never saw a skateboard before I built my first skateboard. My cousin and I were
just joking around with a bunch of stuff. We had built a– what was supposed to be an
airplane, that we wanted to fly down this little
hill with. And totally crashed. We had like this week
of just total chaos, and ideas, and things. We found an old roller skate,
like really old style roller skate, in the yard. And we taped– duct taped– a piece of wood on top
of it, sat down. Rolled down the hill, thought
it was funny. Tried standing up, fell. The thing came apart. We took the two pieces and built
what looked like a self made skateboard at the time. Just kept doing this
for a week or two. And then on television, there
was a little something about– on skateboarding. A German team, called the Banzai
team, I guess Banzai was an American company. And they had like a German
team, or something. And they were all on a sports
program we saw. We couldn’t believe it. Because we’ve done this
for two weeks now. And then there they are. You know, ’76, you go figure. It’s just 360s, some
hand stands, and that kind of stuff. And then we kind of just kept
doing it, you know? Every day, total craziness. But I never actually saw
a board before I first stepped on one. Never saw anyone skate. Much, much later saw
the first real made skateboard in a shop. Stole 80 Deutschmarks– at the time, that’s like $40,
or something– from my mom’s purse, and bought it. She was mad. She wasn’t around. We wanted it. We wanted it now. We couldn’t wait. Let’s go grab the money. And my brother and
I bought a board. We obviously just got better,
liked what we were doing. In a town next to my town,
slightly bigger town called Bitterfeld, they had a
skateboard team and a club. And they had a contest in ’77,
which we went to thinking we wouldn’t win anything. But I won everything. Got sponsored by this aluminum
board company. There were called Calypso,
German company. And they made aluminum
double kick boards. We started entering
competitions, like German championships, European
championships, in freestyle, high jump, and slalom. Just like everyone else
did at the time. And at some point, my dad saw
these British soldiers’ kids. Because obviously, we were
occupied by British soldiers where I live. And we’ve got the second largest
military airport in all of Europe, in my hometown. So the British kids had caught
on to skateboarding, I think a year earlier than
the German kids. So they had magazines. And there was contact
to shops in England, and stuff like that. Through them, really,
we all of a sudden– we went to England. We visited skate parks. We had contact with a skate shop
call Surrey Skateboards. We kind of were in contact
with one of the salespersons there. And he kept us updated
on what’s going on. At some point we met Shogo
Kubo in England, in the Rolling Thunder skate park. And just seeing him skate,
we just went crazy. We built a half pipe at home
and just went off. My mom was flicking through
the newspaper. And she was saying, ah, in this
city about a half hour away from here, called Hamm. There’s going to be– an American team is having
a half pipe show. And we had just kind of finished
our half pipe. And thinking, wow,
American team. Who is it going to be? Great, let’s go, let’s
watch this. We arrived and it’s this
humongous half pipe without flat bottom, with a big
Titus logo on it. Like a blue, very
shaky half pipe. And some people were
skating it, about halfway up, kick turning. I saw this one dude with
this long beard. And so I said, my mom said that
this American team is going to show up, and
do a show here. When are they going to arrive. And he was giving me
this attitude. Like, dude, you know,
this is the team. Don’t tell me you
can do better. So I say, yeah, we can. We got our boards with us. Can we skate? And he’s like, yeah. Like, totally challenging
us, saying, let’s go. So we dropped in. People just went nuts. Because they watched them kick
turn halfway up all day. We climbed up to the top,
dropped in, did rock and rolls and front side airs and stuff. We obviously became members
of their team. They’re kind of like,
ah, oops. Can you skate for us? It was not about the
show part of it. It was more like skating
a different half pipe once in a while. But then the guy, obviously,
I talked to– was Titus. Which I didn’t know
at the time. He just had a very weird
beard in the beginning. Until about ’84, I never thought
this was going to be something I could earn money
with, or anything. It was always just about
skateboarding. You can’t really explain
what’s so fun about it. But something really drives
you to just keep doing it. I think it’s an international
thing, everyone knows. If you’re a true skateboarder,
you will know why the hell you are on this thing. And that’s all I cared about. But obviously you try to make
contacts, and so Titus made a board with my name on it. I thought it was kind
of cool, obviously. Someone says, let’s
make this board. I thought up the whole clock
idea, and everything. Which I kept through all
my boards, pretty much. But in ’84, I got picked up by
Powell and Independent Trucks. And they sent me to the states
in ’85, for the first time. And then, this is the first
real big craze. Pros having to sign autographs
for an hour. People loving it. MTV catching on to it. That’s when I kind of
though, all right. So I could be in this
for longer now. -Did you have the deal with
Santa Cruz worked out before you quit Powell? Or did you just quit Powell? CLAUS GRABKE: Oh, no no. I just quit Powell. I just quit Powell. And it was easy, at the
time, to do that. Thinking back now,
it’s like, wow. That was a pretty bold move. As a major company interested
in you. Wanted to bring out a board. And Stacy just wasn’t
catching onto it. Giving me all sorts of advice. Coming across like
a dad too much. And I didn’t really
want another dad. I had one already,
who was kind of pissing me off at times. So I just told him
on the phone. I said, look, fuck it. The board’s not what I
want it to be, and communications not good. I know that you’re a big
deal, and I could get someplace, but fuck it. I had no plan B, so to speak. I skated the Vancouver World
Championship, got sixth place in half pipe and bowl. And that’s when I got my
offer for Santa Cruz. I was on Santa Cruz when Santa
Cruz was having their heyday. They were a super-supportive
company. Biggest carer move, so to
speak, I ever made. These were the best days. Best few years of my life. [MUSIC PLAYING] CLAUS GRABKE: I’ve moved out for
a couple of months, a year or something like that. Lived in Santa Cruz up 44th
street, up on the supermarket, with the skateboarders
at the time. Jason Jessee was there. Hosoi would stay
once in while. And then pretty much every
employee of Santa Cruz skateboards lived up there. But I never officially moved
out of my house. There were certain times when I
stayed in the states longer, or when I stayed in Berlin
for a longer time, something like that. But I still live
in that house. It’s my house now. It’s my parents’ house,
and now it’s my house. If you look at it now, and
how everyone’s traveling internationally, it’s kind of
hard to see why back in the days it was so important
to go to the States. Because I think that the
companies really wanted you go over and prove yourself there. Whereas now they’re sending
everyone and their mother over to Europe, to find great skate
spots and look good. Back then you really
had to go over it. The last, I’d say, five years,
for some strange reason, it feels like I’m really feeling
the benefit of what I’ve done before. Back in the day, when you’re
one of the top guys, it’s pretty hectic. You have to plan your
day differently. And you have to kind
of prove yourself. And I don’t have to
do that anymore. I can kind of look back at
what the little kid from Gutersloh has achieved. And it’s pretty crazy, to look
back and think that I’ve done all these things. And it’s relaxing. It’s very relaxing. When you go to bed, it eases
your mind a lot. To think back, to think, I had
this goal, and achieved that. And I actually did. Which is crazy, and
I excelled. I even got a lot more out
of it than I thought. I’ve always loved it. And I really admire some of new
guys out there, for doing what they did. Because I mean, technically,
it is light years away from what we were doing. Fucking little bonus one on the
top of a half pipe, it’s easy compared to some of the
stuff that they’re doing. So they really took it to a
completely different level. I really saw skateboarding
from kick turns to what it is now. And nothing can surprise me. Some guy will come
up with something completely new tomorrow. I saw Rodney doing ollies in
Sweden, in the summer camp, not knowing the potential
of what he was doing. And the same summer camp I saw
Mike McGill doing the McTwist which seemed pretty
incredible. But it’s not like I was
surprised by it, overwhelmingly. It’s more like, oh yeah. Skateboarding, there you go. [MUSIC – CLAUS GRABKE,
“STRANGER”] RICHIE LOFFLER: I’m going to
start off with introducing my team riders, from TRAP. He’s been on the team for
like six years now. And he’s stoked. He goes a little bit faster,
likes bowlish kind of stuff more. He’s not really that
much of the street skater, but bowls, vert. Here we got the little– he’s also more into
bowl skating. But he skates street
pretty good, too. Lolli getting over a 360 hill
flip he just made last week. This is like our
Asian tech dog. He’s like all over
curbs and stuff. Sometimes he slides
with his body, and sometimes with the boards. He’s just like for downhill,
you know? He takes downhill stuff. He gets really gnarly. He goes like 110, standing up. He likes to eat female skaters,
too, So he gets into trouble from time to time.

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