Name: Heinz Löhle
Home: Munich, Germany
Riding for: 12 years
Favourite spots: the Portes du Soleil, Arlberg
Sponsors: Rossignol, Level, Nixon, Reef, 5ive Skateshop
Angles: +18°, –12°, 56cm
Board: a 5’11” Fish surfboard! And for the winter a Rossignol Decoy 55.
Hobbies: surfing and skateboarding
“Heinz is a small, sturdy guy who likes to skate a lot. In fact, he often tries to transfer his skateboarding skills to his snowboarding. He chews gum non-stop (always the same brand) and is always well dressed. His father is a VW and Audi car salesman so it’s not rare to see him rocking some pretty nice cars, like the RS6 at our week in Garmisch two years ago. He also likes a good party. At the Kaunertal Opening 3 years ago, he won the qualifying contest, went out and got smashed and wasn’t able to compete in the main event the next day. He’d won his finals for the event.” – Damien Giraud, Rossignol
Despite featuring in international snowboard magazines for several years now, Heinz Löhle is a pro rider that prefers to keep a low profile. As a result of his timid and reserved nature, there are few people who know much about this talented German rider. Onboard decided it was time to take matters into its own hands and shed some light on the up-and-coming ripper.
From the Black Forest to Bavaria
After an infinite series of cell divisions and DNA metamorphoses, Heinz finally saw the light of day in Stuttgart at the age of zero. That was 27 years ago, somewhere in the Black Forest not far from the French border. Born into a family of big sport enthusiasts from whom he clearly picked up his natural talent for all sports, his family later moved to the Bavarian Alps when he was 17 where he was able to immerse himself in snowboarding. Five years later, he turned professional. His fast track to becoming a pro snowboarder is proof of his natural talent, even if he likes to stress his love and dedication for the sport, which have also brought him to where he is today. “Natural talent is definitely a factor, but it wasn’t the most important thing in my progression. I know quite a few guys who were a lot more naturally talented than me at the beginning! But there’s no secret, you have to ride non-stop and constantly work at pushing your limits if you want to progress.” He also admits to having a preference for riding backcountry terrain and handrails.
“There were no decent halfpipes where I started snowboarding, so I turned to riding snowparks and handrails, and then later spent more time off-piste. I love going off to discover new spots and work on perfecting a few tricks, a bit like when you’re street skating. And then of course there’s nothing better than hitting up a good powder session with your mates”, he says. His media coverage came hand-in-hand with his first contest results, including a few solid performances on the Ästhetiker tour. Heinz isn’t necessarily what you’d call a contest rider, but he says that he’s looking to take the contests tours more seriously next season. For years he’s chosen to stay away from competition snowboarding, but with the arrival of the TTR Pro Tour, its appealing innovative contest formats and fresh interest it’s created within the industry, he’s looking for a change and new challenge.
Mr Low Key Dot Com
Last season Heinz spent most of his time doing photo shoots and filming with Darius Heristchian and Joël Strecker, among others. “I got to ride a lot of backcountry in Switzerland with Pat Vermeulen and the Thermos crew. We shared a lot of great times. I’m going to have a few tricks in several different video projects, but no actual section of my own”, he adds. If you want to see what Heinz is capable of, you can also log on to his website (www.heinzloehle.com) and view some of his action. He updates photos, video and travel stories on a regular basis. From his site, you can also tell he’s pretty good at dabbling with computers.
People say that Heinz is one of the hardest working and most dedicated snowboarders around. Proof of this was the speed with which he came back to the forefront of the scene after a bad knee ligament injury in 2003. Heinz is definitely no quitter, and that is probably his number one strong point, hidden behind a quiet smile and low-key attitude that’s liked and respected by so many. Our hippy senior photographer Pat Vermeulen sheds further light: “Eric Bergeri introduced me to him 3 years ago and we got on really well right from the beginning. We were keen to hook up and shoot again. I’d seen a few photos of him, but never actually had the opportunity to watch him ride until this year. This season is when I realised how talented he really is and been able to appreciate how easy-going, friendly the guy is. He’s a consummate professional and definitely deserves to be known outside his native country.”
Heinz has his own distinctive style too. Take his handrails, for example. When it comes to riding in an urban environment, Heinz has a totally unique approach to riding. “Approaching handrails with a skate attitude and a good bag of tricks is one thing, but there’s more. Weather permitting, I like to hit rails without goggles or a jacket. First off, because they look superfluous, and secondly because I like to bring a street skateboarding touch to snowboarding. I find that photos and video footage of handrails look better if the rider doesn’t look like a freerider.”
No jackets, no goggles, no arms flaying in all directions, Heinz is all about fine-tuning his style – a style that’s stemmed from hours of skating mini-ramps. And if you ask him what his favourite trick is he’ll invariably tell you, “the ollie”. So it’s no surprise that those riders Heinz looks up to most today are two masters of style: David Benedek and Eero Etala. “I couldn’t tell you which are my favourite riders, there are just too many, but those two are definitely at the top of their game.”
Living the Dream
When asked what has been the best moment in his snowboard career so far, Heinz replies without hesitation: “When I realised I could make a living from my passion for snowboarding. There’s nothing more I could ask for right now.” It’s a very mature and detached answer in the light pro riders’ hectic lifestyles today. Travelling is another aspect of his ‘job’ that Heinz appreciates. Last season he was given the opportunity to explore a few unusual destinations, including a hilarious trip to Romania with Yannick Amevet, and a trip to China with Jonas Emery, Manuel Bernert and the Pirates crew. “It’s an incredible experience to see how different people are over there. It was pretty hard to communicate with them, but nevertheless everyone was super friendly. The whole country has opened up to the rest of the world, and the same goes for snowboarding. The kids are so motivated! They’re also extremely respectful, which is really good. You learn something new every day and all those new experiences act as a great source of inspiration,” he says. A big fan of surfing, there are few other places he also loves to visit as often as possible, like Indonesia and Central America. But he’s also aware that you don’t necessarily need to travel to the other side of the world to have a good time or make the most of life. For him, the Alps remain an eternal playground, with different European cultures waiting to be explored around every new summit. So it’s no surprise that he spent most of last winter in the heart of the Alps (in Les Crosets) shooting with Mr Vermeulen.
Heinz is the first to recognise his good fortune. “There are still lots of things I’d like to do, but I’m very happy with what I have right now!”
Heinz Löhle would like to thank his family, friends and sponsors.
Check out: www.heinzloehle.com