Words & Photos: Jeff Mathis

There’s something to be said about a place like Germany. A place with all the comforts that you would expect of a modern, thriving nation, stacked next to architecture that has been standing, and will continue to, for centuries. It’s a place that is so rich with history that it felt like every village we happened upon or any building we walked by had a story to tell. And their stories were all told through the people we met during our stay (when we could understand what they were saying). Luckily for us, we had three tour guides in Felix Georgii, Nico von Lerchenfeld and Andy Kolb as translators. With a cable park pretty much within spitting distance at any given point, and six of the best cable riders in the world crammed into two vans, it wasn’t hard to find a good time. We journeyed 1000+ km all across the country, shredding any park we could find, winching some untouched scenic spots, and even managing to dip into Austria for a couple of days before coming back to the good ol’ U.S. of A. With six riders, four camera men, two “chaperones”, and the occasional baby (Nico’s), we all got very close over the 10 short days we were there, and learned more about ourselves along the way.

Guenther getting acquainted with his new pro model rail board

Hey Nico, what’s German for “wallride”?

If you’ve never traveled past one or two time zones, then making the trip to Düsseldorf, Germany from Orlando International can feel like a time warp. Not only is the flight about 11 hours but you fast forward six hours of them, so once you touch down, you’re not quite sure where you are, who you are, or what time it is. I never knew jet lag was a real thing but after that, especially the return flight, I was a believer. Our group from Orlando consisted of myself, Cole Vanthof, Guenther Oka, Shane Bonifay, Felix Georgii, Aaron Grace and Joe Highfill of Liquid Force, and although we had all traveled halfway across the globe, we were all itching to get some riding in the moment we hit the ground. We loaded up the vans and were off to our first stop: Wasserski Langenfeld. This spot is one of the most known parks in the world and for good reason, it’s an absolute paradise. With four full-sized cables, a handful of 2.0’s, and the first UNIT wave pool, there’s way too much to do in one day. Not only that, the onsite restaurant and employees were as rad as they could get. What keeps coming to mind when I think back is how good the coffee was. I know what you’re thinking, “Coffee? Really? Come on now …” But it’s true. (And not only at WL, every spot we went to basically had a breakfast buffet each morning and I couldn’t get enough. It definitely kept me going as we shot and shredded day-in and day-out.) We got acquainted with the site over several cups as we waited for the rest of the group to join us. Daniel Grant, Angelika Schriber and Raph Derome trickled in later that day from wherever they were in the world, as well as Nico von Lerchenfeld and Andy Kolb, who call Germany home. We geared up for the upcoming week of travel with a few beers and a lot of high fives.

“This was my first LF team trip and it was extra rad because it was in my home country. I’ve been traveling with everyone on the trip but never as a team. It was cool to see everyone working together and being stoked through this trip through Germany and Austria. I hope we get to do more of these trips soon!” – Felix Georgii

Methods for breakfast

Dan stays t’ed up

The next morning, we jumped in the vans and cruised over to the world famous Bricks Wake Park. Most parks in the U.S. are out in the middle of nowhere but not this place, it’s right in the middle of the city of Duisburg, just outside of Düsseldorf. It’s a perfectly manicured spot in the middle of a sports complex, and unlike the lengthy stretches we found at Langenfeld, the Bricks has two full-sized cables that have some of the quickest lap times in the world. It’s also unique because of their signature rails that have been cemented into the ground, so there’s absolutely ZERO rail shake when you hit them, and if you’ve never experienced that it’s the way rails should be. Everybody slayed it and once we were done riding, the German hospitality kicked in again with the employees cooking us a full dinner right there at the park on their outside grills. One thing that became apparent very quickly was their love for food and beer, and we made sure to enjoy every bit of it.

Next stop was Area 47 in Austria which was a seven-hour trek south. Along the way, we kept seeing these beautiful flower fields and just had to stop at one for a photoshoot. These spots spanned as far as the eye could see so we made the most of it. We were fairly sure we were trespassing so we hopped back in the vans and kept rolling. As we got closer to Austria, we came across Neuschwanstein Castle, one of the most famous ones in Germany, out in the middle of a field. It was built in the 19th century and was the intended to be the home of Ludwig II, the king of Bavaria at the time, until he died in 1886, before it was finished. It was then opened to the public afterwards, and is a huge tourist attraction to this day. Raph and Joe had been giving each other shit during the car ride so with the castle as a backdrop, they decided to wrestle out in the field. What better way to honor King Ludwig II’s memory, right? Raph came out victorious after he threw a choke hold on Joe and we hopped back in the vans and shot down to Austria.

Four out of six ain’t bad…

Who doesn’t love a good slaysh?

Skate or die at the Bricks

Concrete rails for the win

Waking up at Area 47 in Austria was about as surreal as anything I’ve ever experienced. Nestled in the mountains, the park definitely takes the cake for the cable with the most scenic views. And when you add that with the crystal clear water, it made for an epic spot to shred. Not only does this place play host to a rad park but is a full-on outdoor complex, with more stuff going on than we could have ever known. We’re talking rafting, mountain climbing, a gigantic ropes course, indoor (electric) motocross, the list goes on. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to partake in any of it but we did get a tour around the facility and had a chat with the manager about how the compound came to be, and their plans for the future. So if you ever find yourself in Otztal, Austria then make sure you go check it out. But back to what you’re here for … wakeboarding! The cable at Area 47 was too good to be true. With plenty of features to handle all the beginners the resort gets but pro-level features like Dom Hernler’s signature Shape rail, everybody was finding new lines and even the butters around the corners seemed extra epic due to the amazing backdrop. Watching Raph and Guenther session Dom’s rail-to-rail feature back-to-back was definitely one of the highlights of our stay. Their creativity and originality on each hit is something you can’t teach. Not to mention, Nico, Dan, Ange, and Felix all ripping around as well. It was almost too much for the cameras to capture. But all good things must come to an end as we loaded up the vans again to head to our next destination. What came next though was supposed to be an easy winch mission. We had heard about this lake on top of a mountain just outside of Innsbruck, Austria and figured it would make for a solid shot. We mapped it out and made our way up the mountain as best we could. What we didn’t realize was that the entrance of the park we were heading into was pretty tricky to find and after turning the vans around a couple times and Joe bottoming one out on the side of the mountain, we finally found our way in. A quick winch set-up and Raph swimming out in the freezing water made for an epic shot with the snow-capped peaks in the background. In and out, we were done before anyone knew it.

Ange cranking one back in Austria

This trip was a uuuuuuuge one. This is exactly what team trips are all about. the team shoved into some vans hitting up tons of spots and hanging out with the local riders. Germany is epic.” – Raph Derome

On our way out of Austria, we were stopped at the border of Germany because I guess we looked “suspicious”. Two big vans filled to the brim with ratty looking wakeboarders and tons of gear? Yeah, definitely suspicious … and if you’ve ever seen an action movie with German police in it, well, they’re just as intimidating in real life. Luckily, everyone had their passports and they didn’t hassle us too much so we were through fairly quickly. We rolled on towards our next destination of WakeToolz Wake Park about an hour outside of Munich. This spot had just been taken over by new management and they were stoked to have us out. They had just revamped the whole park so it was in prime condition for some good times. They also had an awesome 2.0 bi-level set up that Dan just tore to pieces with handrails and hubbas galore. He handled it in true Daniel fashion, boosting and gapping bigger than anyone. It happened to be one of the chillier days we were out and they had a wood burning hot tub out on the dock so you know that thing got some use. There was only time for a morning sesh there before we rolled out to find another winch spot in the town of Landshut. We happened upon this park that was filled with people barbecuing, sunbathing, and just hanging out that had this perfect ledge that Felix and Nico were frothing to hit. The winch was rolled down without so much as a look from anyone and they were sessioning it in a matter of minutes. It wasn’t the gnarliest ledge ever but the backdrop with all the old German architecture and cathedrals was breathtaking. Again, we were in and out before we knew it and headed down to our hotel for the night.

The final day was even colder as we made our way to Wild Wake & Ski Cable, one of the older spots we got to hit that was an hour and a half north of Munich. This cable had been there for quite some time and had more of the old school obstacles but that didn’t matter to anyone. It was built onto Steinberger See (see = lake) and we saw sailboats cruising back and forth the whole time we were there. Met with yet another breakfast buffet when we showed up, we knew that spot was going to provide. The wind was howling as everyone suited up but that didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits because it was our last day and we knew we had to get after it. Everyone began lapping around the cable as the cameras rolled and the juices started flowing. We finished up the day with an epic meal right on the patio overlooking the lake and reflected on all the amazing things we saw over that week and a half. From the streets of Cologne to the mountains of Austria and too much to recount in between, we all had a newfound appreciation for the people and the culture. We met some of the nicest people I’ve ever come in contact with, ate some amazing food, saw some incredible sites, and got to ride more than anyone could handle. If you ever have the chance to make it over that way, do it. As for me, I’m going to start planning my next trip now. Danke!

Tail presses and fancy architecture

Backlips in Bavaria with Nico

Album dropping soon-ish…

Guenther dodging the cops

Get it right, get it tight

Daniel Grant over the grass at WakeToolz

Ange making the best out of a chilly day at Wild Wake & Ski

“Cruising around Germany for 2 weeks with the Liquid Force crew calls for good times only. We had such a blast visiting some of the best cables in Germany while shooting all our new product. This was a trip I’ll never forget!” – Guenther Oka