“Incredible and overwhelming”
“The contrast in culture and personality made this adventure one to remember”
— Patrick Switzer
The name ‘Greener Pastures’ comes from the beautiful geography of the Swiss Alps. It provides a more calm and mature aesthetic than what’s seen in most skateboard media. Many of the best roads come from the natural phenomenon they’re built upon. Greener Pastures pays homage to this.
Greener Pastures represents all companies together, with no bias. This allows for uninhibited cooperation between riders. It’s this sense of community and cooperation that’s at the heart of contemporary longboarding. Tap the pics and read what the Greener Pastures riders say...
Greener Pastures featured rider: Samy C
edited by Sweet Billy Robinson
Hey buddy! Where are you from?
I'm from Farden in the state of Graubünden, Switzerland.
That's a tiny village, 28 people live there and it's in the middle of a 8.5km DH run...
Nice. When did you start skating?
I saw street skateboarders while visiting my Grandma down near Zurich at the age of 9 or so, and went on about me wanting a skateboard 'till I finally got one for X-Mas when I was 10. (1988)
Do you still ride one?
I ride an old-school-pool-tool in bowls and parks and for tech sliding, no more french-fry "real street skateboards" though. Too old for that stuff.
When did you start longboarding?
I met Mike from Summit Skateboards at a sports goods expo in 1998 and got myself a Summit Raptor, with Independent truck in the front, Seismic in the back and Slick wheels. Those wheels were developed to slow you down on very steep gradients, so it was perfect for me to get down to the bottom of the valley. I previously had done the run on my street deck, but a 14% one-lane road on a street deck wasn't too much fun. That first Longboard changed EVERYTHING! In 2001 Dhyan Fischer and Andreas Pfander gave me a ride to Hot Heels in Kaunertal, where I first saw someone put his board sideways. That was the beginning of racing and my first encounter with the downhill family.
What were you doing at a sports goods expo as a 10 year old?
1978-1998 = 20 Years of age...
My maths is better than my longboarding
I hope not...
A ride from Switzerland to South Africa?
Hahahahaha... you haven't been in longboarding for too long have you? Original Hot Heels used to take place in Kaunertal, Austria. Organized by the LEGEND: Gerhard Lanz. 2001 was the 9th issue of this Event. They stopped it in 2003 'cause he got screwed by the main sponsor and lost a HUGE amount of his private money. This may be the moment to say it again: THANK YOU GERHARD for organizing the most legendary races EVER! Gerhard set up camp, kitchen, and HOT SHOWERS (no-one had that at the events at the time), right in the middle of nowhere. They drew 4 kilometers of tube down the valley to have water at the camp. EVERYTHING had to be brought there. For electricity there was a massive generator running 24/7... Yup, 7! The event started with training on Monday - no, actually the event started the week before the event, when the first riders arrived to help set up. Nobody was paid to skate at the time, and most people were short on cash, so we'd go and help set up to get a discount on entry fee. The actual event started on Monday, training all week, massive parties all week, time trials on Friday, heats on Saturday, Sunday morning you can imagine... then stick around to take down the whole structure again.
When and Why did it move to another continent?
The Hot Heels events took place both in Austria and South Africa at first. Gerhard's event died and only the South African Hot Heels continued. Gerhard was the one who got Marcus (Rietema) and his company the IGSA to come over to europe. Gerhard can be found on Facebook. He'd be the guy to interview for a history lesson.
Why don't you like the IGSA?
There are lots of stories where decisions made by Marcus and his officials were kak, but the main reason why i don't agree with the IGSA is the elimination system they run. Fact is that we are all paying to race, and we all pay the same entry fee. So we should all get to race and have fun on a closed road. Thanks to IGSA we get to lose a whole day for time trials that only about 15 people in the world really care about. Don't get me wrong, that's the 'truly professional' way of doing it, but we're paying to go there! Truly professional 'athletes' would get invited, fed and taken care of. We pay for the races, so we should skate and not be told: "you were too slow yesterday, you can go home before it even started..." Or even better: "It's raining, even though we didn't organise the race we decide it's unsafe to ride in the wet, so you ALL get robbed and can go home..."
The second big issue is the fact that they are allowing any home made piece of shit to be used as a helmet. So-called safety on one side, no safety whatsoever on the other. I simply don't get it. How am I supposed to take someone seriously who says: You can't ride in the wet cause it's unsafe, but hitting Teutonia's 120km/h run with a piece of self-made untested piece of sometimes barely padded crap on your head is safe.
What do you mean about home-made piece of shit helmets?
Back in the Kaunertal days motorsports-tested helmets became MANDATORY in Classic Luge and Streetluge Unlimited as a first step to safer protective gear. (That saved a Frenchman's life at Almabtrieb; he hit a post at over 110km/h with his head wearing a brand new motorsports tested helmet in semi-finals. A paragliding helmet on his head would NEVER have kept that impact off his skull.) The year after, ANY helmet was allowed again because IGSA was scared someone may sue them if there was a case where the extra weight of the helmets would cause an injury. ('American-court-bull' in my opinion.)
I still can't believe how careless everybody is with the choice of their helmets. And pleeeeease don't say "DOT helmets are too heavy" unless you want me to call you a wimp. If Motorbike racers can handle the weight at the speeds they're doing we can too. Your muscles will build up quicker than you think. And by the way there are "Aero" lids in the racing that outweigh my Motorbike helmet by 500 grams. The problem is always the same: if it's not mandatory some are too cool to wear a bigger lid and the kids dig it and it all goes back to no safety. IGSA has the power to change that and make it mandatory. Every single skateboarder who dies because he has a shitty helmet on is one too much.
What would you change about this?
I'd do Nate's "race for final rank" format so EVERYBODY goes to the finals. 128 riders can sort that out in 6 runs. All you do is taking the World ranking and maybe a Last 3 Race results ranking as imaginary qualification time (as it's done in all other sports like tennis and so on) and get people to RACE... You can race in the rain, hail or even snow 'cause it's the same conditions for the 4 guys on the track. The better skateboarder adapts best and wins.
Is this format operated anywhere?
'Nate the Great' from Canada told me about this format at 2007 Rock 'n Roll in Austria. Apparently it's been used at a event in Canada when the timing system failed. Koma used a system based on that but with points in a French cup last year too. Friends of mine said it was awesome; so much riding, not much waiting. The French hopefully will show IGSA the way. The French know how to organise stuff - they managed to get the sport recognized and integrated in the national sports department. If the French can do it...
Yeah, Koma and I spoke extensively about this. Koma is a BEAST! The structure of descente.fr is definitely something to be emulated!
Back in the Kaunertal days the French were the ones putting no feet on the ground, pre-drifting EVERYTHING. That's 11 years ago, way ahead of everything. Manu Antuna, a LEGEND from France, won the 2001 Hot Heels, and I had the pleasure to be in two heats with him before being eliminated.
Your first experience on a longboard was down a hill?
Sure it was down a hill... Where I grew up there's only UP or DOWN. I already was too lazy to go UP, so I went DOWN... turned out to be a good decision.
You've been riding hills ever since?
It's like with the surfing bug: once you get bitten by that you can never leave! For me it's easy; I was born on a hill, I grew up on a hill (I remember skiing down to school in winter), and I still live in Switzerland. If you've seen the Greener Pastures videos you know what that means.
When did you start racing?
2001 Kaunertal was my first DH race. I had done some slalom before though.
Do you still slalom?
I teach the kids how to slalom first but I'm not racing.
I paddle and drink salt water... yes I try. It's hard in Switzerland though. I just got back from a two month surfing holiday in Morocco and Western Sahara. I'm on a 9'6" singlefin and enjoying it a lot, even if I suck big time.
2 months not skating! How did you survive?
That is a question only a non-surfer can ask: If you have waves you don't need a skateboard. You don't need girls, you don't need ANYTHING. Skateboarding emerged from surfing. Surfers searched for a pastime when there were no waves. That's what skateboarding is and no more. It's to bridge the times between the swells or when away from the ocean.
Must be hard being landlocked!
It'd be MUCH harder being landlocked in a FLAT country.
True. Where do you skate these days?
After two months off work I'm back at it. I service tennis courts at the moment and that's the toughest job I've worked so far. The guys running the company are madmen. 279 hours worked in one month, can anyone top that? So for now not much time to skate. After 6 days of working until 10pm you need to rest, 'cause it's kicking off 6:30 on Monday morning again. 13 hour days pushing wheelbarrows with 250kg of sand in them is very tiring.
What city do you skate these days?
City sessions in Zurich 'cause it has cable cars and a whole bunch of friends who live there, and sometimes Biel with the Beaumont Crew.
Sounds tough. No energy to skate after? But at least the ladies must love your suntan and new muscles
If it has tits or wheels it will cause you problems. I stay away from girls. Too much trouble. On top of that I'm growing a beard for a movie, not much of a ladykiller since girls seem to like metrosexual-gay-type men these days. They'll have to find them elsewhere.
The northern European girls dig the viking look! Don't give up on love :p
I didn't... she did. But that's another story.
You're a movie/rock star?
No no no... A friend's girlfriend makes movies and she works with 'non-actors' only; real people without acting school training or anything. And she wants one character to have a long red beard for her next project. So I said I'm in and haven't shaved for more than two months now. I look like a caveman I guess...
What is the longboard scene like in Zurich?
It's pretty cool, from the 10 year old kid to the midlife crisis, I-have-to-do-one-more-extreme-thing guy, every imaginable facet. Slalom boards were pretty big ten years ago, everybody carried one as accessory or to replace his stolen bicycle, now longboarding has kicked in. Friends of mine run the Roll-Laden (Roll-Laden.tv, the only true longboard store in Zurich) in town and they say they're selling ok. The city of Zurich even has slalom skateboarding and slalom skateboard building in the city's kids annual holiday camp. Bettina Luginbühl, Jojo Linder (In charge of Roll-Laden) and myself are the instructors, so we acquire the kids straight at source and educate them to be hardcore badass DH skateboarders when they grow up. One of the kids from last Fall's camp managed to close a road in his neighbourhood with the help of a social worker. He wanted to have a road to skate and set up a mini-ramp so everybody can go skate there for a day. He's 14 and got that organized. Respect!
You're training future champions?
I 'trained' past champions. Tamara 'Squirrel' Prader (Women's World #3) I put on a skateboard for the first time 2 years ago. P-Swiss took over part of her training in the meantime though. Bettina Luginbühl did quite well back when she used to compete, and there it was me who took her DH skateboarding and to all the races. But the rankings is just a very small part of skateboarding to me. To me it's much more important that the newbies learn to be safe. Rather be a little bit slower and alive. And what's the fun in it when you get so serious that you're down and crying if you don't win?
Does she beat you now?
Even if I can kind of keep up riding wise she sure kicks my ass as it comes to the stoke. She quit her job to start another job to be able to take time off to attend all the races, she's putting friends and workmates on the skateboard, teaching them how to brake and stuff... she's pure stoke.
You must be so stoked! Another graduate of the Samy C school of tucking!
It's AWESOME! I don't have to care about all the races and events and stuff anymore. Squirrel will ring and go: Are we going there and do you go to this event and... I just have to say yes or no and we're set.
Who organises stuff out there?
It's pretty hard to get things organised, since one huge point of skateboarding is that you don't need anybody else to do it. France is amazingly well organised nationwide, we're still far behind and not really doing anything to catch up. Two mates and myself stepped into a different direction to official clubs and stuff last spring as we purchased the Swiss Skatevan. It's an association created around the van with the main objective to keep the vehicle alive and have fun freeride sessions between friends. We're free to kick anybody out who rides too risky or is too sketchy, but we will take people to our favorite roads if they ride safe. We take beginners with us on the big hills and make sure they use their skills to be safe rather than fast. As John says in the Greener pastures: we're trying to have another run or another bunch of years of legal DH skateboarding....
The trend in the big European cities is for a loosely organised community (usually on Facebook) organising events and whatnot.
I started the group 'Rigiblick session NOW' on Facebook because I realized there was no group. It has a bit over 100 members, most from the city and it's more like a shoutbox: day, time, and people go yes or no or I'll be a bit later. The Funicular leaves every 6 minutes, so every second one you catch. Hardly ever been skating there without bumping into other longboarders. If somebody shows up without basic protection he's gonna get shit from everybody else, since safety is the main priority. Skateboarding is 100% legal on the roads we skate (30km/h zone - it's in the Swiss road code that you can use those and some other types of roads under certain conditions for skateboarding) and the cops know it's happening, they cruise by, have a look and not even stop us anymore. No one wants that law to be changed so we have to be careful that no accidents happen.
Cable car on railroad tracks - two cabins connected with a wire.
Sweet. How is the longboard scene in the rest of Switzerland?
There is a pretty active crew in French Switzerland; they organise the Bukolik freeride. We have the Beaumont Crew in Biel (Batt, Rüfli, Bekks, Kevin, J.P., Anni, Nico, Stuck...); they have evening sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays. There are crews in Luzern with number one shop, and we have another crew in the Italian part, actually former Streetlugers that started to ride Standing up. Roll-Laden does weekly city cruises in Zurich.
Are there plans for a national association?
Maybe. I personally don't have any though. We're road-legal on certain types of roads, so we don't really have much to fight for where a national association would help anyway.
They could help set up a Swiss Downhill Cup?
Well, it's a tough one. Do we want organized sport? Do we want drug testing, uniforms and Olympic games? Do we want fame and prize money? I started Snowboarding in 1990. I remember not being allowed to use ski-lifts because I was on a board. Well, try tell someone today you can't go up a lift cause you're not on skis. Back then we'd speak to each other, about gear, riding technique - today try stop a random snowboarder and go 'hey, you're a snowboarder too - where are you from and how did you get into that?' He'd probably call the cops to lock me back where I escaped from. I saw what money and official structure does to a core sport. I DON'T WANT THAT TO HAPPEN to DH-Skateboarding... but it probably eventually will, and I'm gonna be the grumpy old man telling the kids that it all used to be better once upon a time.
Haha you can't drug-test skaters, man!
That's what snowboarders used to say once upon a time... And for the record: I don't do drugs... or alcohol, or smoke, or anything... not even coffee. So I'm proof that you can have fun without all that shit.
There are definitely benefits to increased organisation; it takes sponsorship pressure off the skate companies.
What pressure? That's the cool thing about skateboarding. There is no pressure! Except being the one eliminated at the race. But maybe the elimination gets eliminated one day. Everybody can eliminate it by only attending freerides and not races.
The financial pressure of supporting every single event which approaches for much needed cash.
I've organised the Chill on a Swiss Hill together with Clemens back in 2006... ok, HE organised it and I helped, but as far as I remember the finances it was all paid for by the riders' entry fees. Sponsoring was just peanuts in comparison. People always seem to have cash for the fanciest trucks and carbon fibre decks, not to mention tons of booze and weed, but if you charge a couple of bucks more for the entry fee everybody starts crying. Nobody wants to pay entry fees in advance except for the world cup races 'cause you're not registered before the payment is there and somebody else will take your spot. If I'd try to organize a regional event it would be really hard to fill spaces 'cause everybody would wait and try pay on site if the weather is good and not come and not pay if it rains. As a organizer it's even more expensive when it does rain because of the damage to the field you have as the campground and the hay bales that become worthless. But you'll have fewer riders. Bottom line is that organizing events sucks. No one wants to do it. Why would you? If you find a reason to do it, go read critics about all the other events being torn apart and you'll not bother organizing. Your only chance is IGSA, because everybody is keen on WC Points, sponsors and all that crap. It'll be fully booked and you're safe. We were lucky with our event. No rain, we got cash out. Alex from Austria lost tons of cash, The Kozakov guys lost cash in their first year for sure. Well, appreciate it more if people organize stuff for you! And give them a hand if they are in the shit! It's quite surprising, no one has cash, but everybody gets drunk and/or stoned...
How was last season for you?
Last season was cool, even though I only attended 2 races. We built a very nice new interior for the Roll-Laden shop in Zurich, we cruised Switzerland with the Greener Pastures crew, we went to Verdicchio and Slovenia, but best of all was the freeride sessions with the Skatevan. We started to spot-ride, that means the first person stops at the first blind corner and marshalls till everybody went past, then follows the group and has now as many corners with marshalls as there is people in the group. Safe bombing on open road. AWESOME!
What did you enjoy most about Greener Pastures?
Watching the result... We had a blast shooting it, but seeing what the 3-heads made from all the footage was the bomb!
How did you get involved?
We went skating with Pat and a bunch of overseas skateboarders last year a bit and he loved the roads. Since I live in a 9-seater it kind of became my job to take people for skating. The original plan was to take my car, but since I knew it would be too small I bought the Skatevan just before the beginning of the trip. Thanks to a cool job I happened to have the cash and we'd been talking about getting a van to go skateboarding for about 3 years. So Pat's project was the spark that got things to happen. As I keep saying, I was more like the driver since I'm not a extraordinary skilled skateboarder.
Ah yes of course, you were driving and waking everyone up in all the episodes!
The driving yess. (Don't let North Americans drive stick-shift!) Waking up people is more Rambone's job.
Would you do it again?
I WILL do it again...
There's going to be another Greener Pastures?
Not this summer unfortunately. I'll have to concentrate on my other hobby: Bobsled track skating. There will be events at the Altenberg (Germany) and La Plagne (France) bobsled tracks. Invitations are out, we're gonna rock that shit again!
You mentioned earlier that you went to a sports goods expo many years ago. What was that like?
Sports goods expos are cool. You get to see all the new products from the next year, and normally only Shop owners can get in. Since a friend of mine owns 2 Stores he got me a ticket to give him my opinion on gear to sell in his shops. For me it was a big deal at the time to see next year's snowboards before the shops had them. Nowadays I try to keep in touch and party with all the people I got to know over the years. I ended up taking my sponsor's boards to the ISPO in Munich last winter. I basically was the marketing director of Fibretec skateboards for a weekend!
What are your plans for this season?
I want to work a lot to get a budget for a surf trip further down the Atlantic coast of Africa in winter, skate a bit in between, the freeride in Slovenia, The beton on fire events in the bobsled tracks will be highlights and I'm gonna help at the www.womenlongboardcamp.com. Kiki Rasta organizes an event in france, there is the 10 year anniversary event of the legendary KS, and we still have the Swiss Skatevan to go road trippin'. That's gonna be a lot of fun too.
What do you ride?
Ultimate designs 9'6" singlefin, Fibretec Switchpill (Custom shape from a Flying-Pan blank) on G.O.G. BB3s and DTC-wheels, Fibretec Fat 'n Flat 820, Bennet Vector trucks and DTC-Wheels, Fibretec Pooltool, Indy trucks and Powell Bowl Bombers 64mm SPF. And a Landcruiser HJ61 4 liter 6 Cylinder turbo diesel to get me anywhere and back...
What is Fibretec and what is your role in the Fibretec family?
Fibretec is my sponsor and a true core skate brand, 100% Swiss handmade by skateboarders for skateboarders. Reinke Blättler runs and owns the company, Christoph Haller is head of carbon fibre products, Grom (Raoul Clavadetscher) does the destructive testing. The 'Team' is just his friends he sorts out with gear to ride; nobody has a written contract, no-one gets paid if featured in the media. We all help to promote the brand since Reinke is a very talented boardbuilder but doesn't care about marketing. He was the first to build a board with a complete ABS outline as impact protection, but not many people out there even know that. Reinke's explanation: I don't want to sell too many boards - that would mean less time to go surfing.
My role in the Fibretec family is being the driver I guess. Wether it's in my car or the Swiss Skate Van, I drive a lot so we can all skate, and I drive some of the samples to ISPO in Munich or KnK in Slovenia to represent the brand the best I can.
If I may add:
Thanks to: Mom for letting me skate when I was a kid, Maurus Strobel for hooking me up with Slalom comps, Andreas Pfander and Dhyan Fischer for taking me to Kaunertal, Gerhard Lanz for organising Hot Heels, Mike Wiki for sponsoring me with Summit Skateboards back in the day, Reinke Blättler for sponsoring me with Firetec boards since Summit closed its doors, Alex Ullrich for the DTC-wheels, Chrigi Hämie for Taking care of the Swiss-Skatevan, Jojo Linder for Rocking the Roll-Laden, Nick Ripz for awesome graphic designs of the Fibretec boards, Fee for organizing the Longboard Girls camp, and SPECIAL THANKS TO GRAVITY for driving us forward!