Interview with Christian Eggers
Chris Eggers ...
He could nearly be called a "living legend".
He's an old hand at ramp skating, since many years he has been skating ramp and street.
You can alway see he is having fun when he puts his feet on his plank.
I don't know how long he has been riding the skate board, but it is always
delightful to have a session with him or simply to watch him.
Since he has experience with skate boarding since almost forever he can tell
you about the history for hours on end and you will listen tensely. A fine thing
to do in the evening, together with a beer.
Chris Eggers: First Mc Twist on Super 8, cleanest inverts and grinding till the coping ends.
Is is still permissible to ask such a skate fossil how old he is and how long he skates?
If it is: What are your answers?
Sure it is! I always get questions like these. I am 36 and skate since 1976 with hardly an interruption.
How did it start? Do you remember your first steps on a board and your first decks? Did you have any skaters you looked up to?
It started because there was a US-Army base at the end of the street where I lived with my parents. The GIs rode down the
street there one day. I could not believe my eyes, I remember my mother saying "look out for the Americans, they ride down
the street on boards with wheels, they are crazy!". I positioned myself on the corner of the street and waited for them to
come back down several times. I even remember the sound those red wheels made............................shtshtshtsht.....I
immediately wanted a board! I got one on Easter 1976 but was disappointed by it. It was made out of plastic, the trucks
did not turn very good, no griptape, no kicktail and the wheels did not grip at all.
But it was fun from the beginning. I remeber the spot where I stood on it for the first time. The road was just paved new.
On the day of my 25th year skating I went back there and skated down that road. It felt great. The board melted one day
because I left it outside in the sun. No joke.
The skaters I looked up to at that time were Eddy Due, a black surfdude from Hawaii (Eddy, if you read this I owe you
big time!), the Banzai Team, and the US -skaters in the magazines: Ty Page (first kickflip--without ollie at that time),
Russ Howell, Henry Hester etc.
Is Slalom skateboarding one of your favorites? Tell us something about your relation to slalom!
It is just like this: when I started to skate there were no tricks. Just turning and carving so slalom came quite natural
to me. The first contests were slalom so I started to practice. I was Bavarian Champion in 1981 (Freestyle and Slalom).
When the ramps came around I almost stopped completely. I justed stepped on a slalomboard once or twice a year. Currently
I am in the process of putting a new board together because I want to get back into it. I have a Fibreflex board and
Bernt Jahnel gave me a set of soft wheels. I'll see what I still can do. I am also thinking about organizing a
slalom contest around here someday. There seem to be quite a few people interested in it again. I also heared rumors
about a slalom event in Dortmund during the WorldCup in July.
What are the other forms of skateboarding you like?
Just Miniramp and vert, mostly vert. Vert is the best and is not as harsh on your bones as streetskating. I ride
street a little but is do it differently than the kids nowadays. I have to watch for my bones because I want to skate
for a long time to come.
Speaking of vert the legendary GreenRamp in Karlsruhe comes to my mind. Tell us something about
your relationship to it and the equally legendary GreenRampJams.
Neverending theme, I could go on for hours. The reason to build it was the demise of our backyard ramp in Ettlingen.
We had built this one in 1981 with our own money and rebuilt it twice but in 1986 it was too rotten to skate it. We
promised to only tear it down when we have a new one to skate and that worked out. I had a little bit of a down time
before that regarding skating. I can say I never stopped to skate but I broke my foot in 1984 after the Summer Camp
in Sweden, I had to pass school, the army and I met a girl I had a long relationship with. All that distracted me from
my skating and I really did not comprehend yet what skateboarding meant to me. Merc Menke really got into getting
the GreenRamp built and I am really thankful for that because I do not know if I would still skate today if it wasn't
for his dedication. The GreenRamp really gave my skating a push again. It was open every day and
every day there where up to 20 people to skate with. It was awesome. Awesome sessions. Sadly enough
there were bad times too. The kids started to skate street more or got out of it completely. When we were just
5 members in the club (only 2 ½ really skated) the Inline-Boom saved us after the club wanted to close the ramp down.
I think it is now Germanys oldest vertramp still standing. OK it is small for todays standards but it is my home ramp
and we skate it 2-3 times a week. It is open Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Having a contest was mandatory action for us, we just did not expect to make it to the tenth! We did not stop because
the ramp had to be torn down like the rumors said, we just had enough of being called guilty for the damages done
on the location. We were in trouble with the officials after every contest and we were just sick of it. Sure some
of the things they said we would have done were really done by the skaters but we were blamed for everything. I just
remember the shooting which caused the cops to show up once which actually was exploding fire crackers in a barrel.
We were sick of that, especially Marc.
And like I said the ramp is not very up to date size-wise, but it is still in a very good shape considering it being
exposed to the German winter since 10 years.
But let me tell you: there will be another Green Ramp Jam!
The GreenRampJams always included Rollerskating. How did that come about?
We also had BMX and girls divisions! We just had in mind that we all have the same reason for diving into 10-foot
transitions. Because it's fun! Therefore it was inevitable. It turned to Inline which I regret but we always had rad
contests. You know it you have always been there. Those who were there know what I am talking about.
Right. The GreenRampContest always had a special atmosphere. Is a contest a competition for you or is it more
like a happening? What do you think a contest has to be like to be beneficial to the skate scene?
It is both. To talk about a real competition in skateboarding is hard because it is completely different from other
"ordinary" sports. There are no rules or mandatory tricks like in figure skating or dancing. It is íncredibly hard
to judge. It is easier in slalom or highjump like we had way back. I remember the officials of the DRB getting smiles
on their faces when they finally got the chance to meassure heights and times. They tried their hardest to put up
freestyle rules giving walk-the-dog 8 points, kickflip 5, 180 kickflip 8, and then YoYo Schulz came onto the scene
doing flatland inverts and they did not know what to do. There will never be a competition like in other sports.
Maybe in downhill and slalom. Furthermore skateboarders are different from other athletes, most of them, even the
professionals see a contest as a good session with friends. Most of them are good friends and a contest is often
used as a reunion party. It is more like a happening because of these reasons.
I think the reason for the special atmosphere at the GreenRampJams was the location and the contestants being vertskaters
throughout. They usually are a bunch of their own.
I think a contest is always beneficial to skateboarding because it brings together people. But it must be well
organized and the ramps must be good. If the officials don't give a damn what a contest has to be like it is bad
for skating and frustrating.
You have seen many ups and downs in skateboarding. What motivated you to stick with it?
What are the consequences for it after all the boom and underground phases?
Having fun always motivated me. Skateboarding is always exciting because it evolves constantly. And my friends.
And ... I don't know, it is in my soul. Like breathing. I cannot live without it.
The underground phases were good to show some people what skateboarding really is again. But those phases will never
return I am sure. It just needed another runup. That's the way it is at the moment. It is as big as never before!
I am sure things will slow down a bit some time but the sad times are over. Nowadays the right people are on top of
things in the industry and organisations like Word Cup Skateboarding. They are interested in the continuation of
skateboarding. A lot of companies are owned by former pro skaters who really show concern and know what to do.
Lets get back to judging. Can you tell us how the forms of judging came about? When did you start
to require five judges? How can we obtain a judging system that will be accepted by all participants?
It did not evolve in the last years. Considering the things I had to see during last years COS Cup Finals in Hamburg
(Vert) it has even gotten worse. More of that later. We always required five judges, you can leave out the highest and
lowest score and still have three scores to make for a good avarage which is relatively exact and fair. It is important
to pick judges who know skating well and take their job seriously. Ist not an easy task. The criteria have to be clear
for all. We are always talking about an overall appearance of the run. That is completele relative, one judge likes a
high clean backside air more than a lower one ending, let's say, with a rad hangup but the rider rides it out.
Both are rad moves. The problem is that you cannot always do it right for everyone there will always be someone
complaining. We should just see the fun in it.
How do you see the current trend? It is mainly streetskating. Where is vert? What is happening on the vertscene?
Lets get back to Hamburg, thats a good example. The vert contest there started 1 ½ hours later than planned, but the boys
and girls on the ramp warmed up to a start on time. Nobody told them that things were late, therefore a lot of riders were
tired once the contest got under way. Then they had 5 streetskaters as judges. I don't want to say they did not know
anything, but I don't know if they recognized Juergen Horrwarths switch tricks. It did not really matter because he won
anyway even if he had done those tricks regular, but I am very sure that happened with other tricks too.
They never informed the skaters how many runs werer planned and if the best run counts or all of them. They agreed on
three runs after Joern Schreiber complained loudly. Two runs into the contest the MC said, "hey lets switch to two runs,
this way its over faster!"
What is happening there?
It becomes obvious which position vert skating has at the moment. Just look at the magazines, but I think that will
change. New parks are being built everywhere with transitions which will produce a whole new generation of vert skaters.
It just takes time. I am thinking of the sessions we had in Boeblingen. There are a few people who will offer some
excitement in the vert scene in the coming years.
Or watch the X-Games finals last year. I gave me goos pimples watching Bob Burnquist's runs. He did tricks no-one
considered possible or could even think of a few years ago.
Vert does not have the publicity streetskating has. Do you wish it would be more? Does it bother you that
the public is more aware of the streestskating?
I wouldn't say it bothers me, I just think it is sad. Vert is a real crowd pleaser at contests. When I read a
skate mag I am getting continously angry if I only see handrails. In my opinion a good skate mag should cover
all aspects of skating. It has to be well mixed. Vert, street, slalom, downhill, freestyle, girlsskating. Everything.
I would like to see that. Skateboarding is so diverse isn't it? For sure streetskating will always be on the
forefront because it is accessible to everone and easy to learn. You go out of the house and just start skating
right away, thats great!
I would really like to see vert skating get the attention it deserves again. But I think that will happen, just look
at the X-Games. Ten thousands of freaked out spectators. I think we are on the right track. In the USA there is a
slalom scene coming up again. That's good, we just have to make sure we don't think in categories again, you know
vert against street, vert against freestyle, freestylers are gay, streetskaters are aggressive and things like that.
We cannot let that happen again.
There are not too many young vertskaters or girl skaters around. What can we do to change that?
You cannot force that. But building skateparks that contain all kinds of terrain certainly helps. A mini,
streetobstacles, a bowl and a vertramp. Look at Boeblingen. At first we were the only vert skaters there, by now a
lot of people have bought pads and participate in our sessions. We try to accommodate them, but sometimes it is
difficult. They fear the height of the ramps. It is just easier to drop into a mini than into a vert ramp even if is
basically the same thing.
But there are new vert skaters, believe me. It just takes a while to get good at vert. And there are even a few
girls who look very promising (I am just referring to the skating here). I really hope that evolves. More girl skaters
would be great, then we could finally have a girls division in the mini ramp contest in Ettlingen.
Lets talk about skate terrain. Do you think there are enough skateparks with good quality?
Who should put them up? Private enterpreneurs, clubs, cities?
There are never enough parks! It looks like a commercial skate park cannot survive. In my opinion the future will be
public skate parks or parks that are supported by companies or clubs. The best examples are the I-Punkt Skatepark in
Hamburg and the Vans parks in the USA. We once tried to get an indoor spot for a ramp, but the rent was incredibly
high. The problem is that the cities have no clue how a skate park has to be like. Sometimes the parks are so bad
that if it had been a soccer field it would have been made a triangle instead of square. We have to try to hold them
back from hiring contractors who don't know what the skaters need. But this is hard because the interests are too
different. The main concern of the cities is keeping the costs down to a minimum, it has to be safe and has to look
good. Sometimes they plant a tree where should be room to push.
Lets get to the money topic. Skate parks cost money. I have the impression that it is not possible
for a skate park to make money.
Right! Maybe it is possible in large cities but the rent there is too high. 6 Euro is maybe the highest price people
are willing to pay.
Do you think it will be possible for all the groups (inliners, bikers, boarders) to get along and
"pull on one string"?
That would be great. But most of the people do not show the neccessary amount of tolerance. I have to admit
that I have a lot of problems with inliners and snakeboarders, but I also have to admit that I had great sessions
with both of them and I always try to show tolerance, I just do not like inliners calling shoe sliding a grind.
You can only grind a truck, not a shoe. But we should all stick together, we have the same interests. I think
we are not enemies, I actually feel like it is getting a little better ... Anyway, I do not see too many inliners
anymore. Maybe it is dying. Maybe rollerskating will come back! That would be nice!
Is sponsoring/pricemoney important for skateboarding?
Sure it is! Nowadays you need media coverage and money. Nothing will happen without that. The industry is big enough
now to feed some top skaters, but they can only earn enough if they get sponsorships from non-skate-related companies.
I think the money coming into skateboarding is positive because finally the skaters who work hard get what they deserve.
Just one thing: a small contest has to work without money too! There are a lot of skaters who do not compete when there
are no big prices on the agenda. That is not good. We have to make sure not to loose the perspective.
Some final words?
I just came back from a wonderful session in Boeblingen yesterday evening. There were 10 (!) vert skaters between 20
and 37(!) years old. Nearly 300 years combined on the decks! It was the best session ever, not only because I finally
had a session without pain in my foot. I just have a feeling of skateboarding getting timeless for me. There are so
many old skaters coming out of the woodworks having fun again and so many young rippers who learn so fast! I am as
enthusiastic as never before and I really think skateboarding is made for eternity. It has influenced my life in many
ways and I must say I am happy it did! It takes new forms for me all the time and I am still having fun. I hope others
feel the same. There are things happening I like to see like the return of slalom and freestyle and the general
acknowledgement of the different disciplines. I just hope that trend will continue.
Whoever calls me up for a session can count on me.
Back to the Sk8Mag.