Introducing JAN SCHIEGNITZ
-A liquid style attack-
Hey Jan, for more than one year now you’ve been living in Kiel, but you are originally from Würzburg. How did you get here to the Baltic Sea?
I was born in ’87 in the south of Germany. My whole family was crazy about sports, and that had a strong influence on my life since I was kid. We spent all our holidays and most of the weekends in the Alps skiing and then later snowboarding. That was definitely a great time. With 14 my life kind of changed when I had an exchange student from England visiting me. He gave me a powerkite as present and told me about kiteboarding. The power of the kite, all the possibilities and varieties of the sport both fascinated me from the beginning. I started to spend all my free time at the lakes near to where I lived to go kiting as often as possible. After my graduation I left my hometown at once, and with an Around-the-World-Ticket in my purse I went searching for the best spots in the world. And now I’m here in Kiel! (laughing)
For real that Kiel is your number one? What then would be number 2 and 3?
Well, maybe not the number 1 before Capetown, Australia and so on. But still, this place has a certain attraction. Nowhere else in Germany you find so many surfer busses in the streets – it’s just a great, relaxing atmosphere. Prior to my time in Kiel I spent several sessions on Fehmarn. Often during the holidays my family and I went on sailing trips in different waters. In 2006 we sailed from Göteborg to Helsingborg, and the summer after that from Västervik to Stockholm. It was then that I really started to love the Baltic Sea. The sessions were awesome in spite of imperfect wind stats and rather cool temperatures. Kiteboarding between the cliffy archipelago and small, wooded islands is just fascinating, beyond words. I really wanna see Gotland and all the beautiful lakes of the country’s inland. Hopefully, one day there’ll be a World Cup tour stop in Sweden.
In general, do you enjoy contests such as the PKRA (=Professional Kiteboard Riders Association) or do you consider them a mere obligation?
It’s definitely fun. Contests are the perfect opportunity to have a good time with my friends on the water and to push each other. A good ranking is great and so is getting the prize money. But that will never be my motivation to participate. Besides, these contests are just a great reason to party.
In 2006 only a few people knew you and then you won the Red Bull Slide Show right away. In 2007 you rode your first Worldcup and in 2008 you could actually improve your results. How do you evaluate your season?
This season was amazing. I travelled from one contest to the next and each time I met new cool people. The year started off with a couple of Kitesurf Trophy Stops. Unfortunately, we didn’t have wind all the time. In the early summer I was at the Legit Jam which was just way-out. Then the PKRA World Cup in St. Peter Ording. Another highlight was a road trip with some friends through the Baltic States in the late summer. There we took these photos. Altogether it was a crazy time and I’m really looking forward to the next season.
This is your third season with Liquid Force. This long-term relation suggests that you feel comfortable working with them?
Well, it was really by accident that I got there. Now I think it’s the best thing that could have happened to me. Liquid Force is the absolute number 1 when it comes to wakeboarding. No other brand fits so good to all these handlepass-tricks. Several decades of competence and knowledge of wakeboard design are reflected in the quality of the kiteboarding products. Up to now the brand has only been mentioned casually, but that is going to change in 2009 due to constant development and improvements. On the one hand, the current 09 products are more suitable for beginners with the Havoc 09, and, on the other, they’re even more radical for wakestylists. For me the Hifi Comp together with the Recoil 09 is the perfect combination. And in addition it’s super-stylish.
The guys behind the brand not only make phat products and do fair business, but they also live the right surf/wake-lifestyle. Damn sure the LF-Crew knows how to party! It’s just fun sharing the same view on the sport and to really take off together.
Same views on the sport? What do you think about kiteboarding?
Kind of difficult to say that in just one sentence. For me all boardsports embody pure style. Records and speed are nice but minor aspects; most important is to get fun out of riding and to take pleasure in watching. Everybody should discover the sport for oneself and live like that. I just love slow rotations and stylish grabs. And I can’t keep my hands off of obstacles. Kiteboarding is all about freedom and the liberty of doing all the fun stuff. Liquid Force simply asks me to do my thing and that’s fun. That’s authentic.
Your pics already suggest that you are committed to wakestyle, but your name also appears in contest rankings outside the freestyle category. And even during your sessions there is a lot of variety in your kiteboarding-performance?? (waveriding, kiteloops). Are you bored by doing wakestyle only?
But is that not what kiteboarding is all about? The best of different boardsports united in one! For me, wakestyle is without a doubt the supreme discipline. But I also enjoy being catapulted horizontally through the air by doing megaloops. And I don’t want to miss out on riding waves with the kite either.
What does a session normally look like? Do you have a fixed procedure and practice systematically or how do prepare for contests?
For contests I had to re-learn kiteboarding completely. It took me many heats of practice until all my tricks and everything else worked out within seven minutes. It was a new challenge and pushed me a lot. Ordinary sessions also change after participating in a couple of contests. The ways out to the open sea get shorter, you choose the right kite more quickly when the wind comes up and then you rip it even harder. I like the sessions with buddies from my neighbourhood the best. It’s all about fun and pushing each other. The thought of the forthcoming contest is not so important any longer.
What’s the most fascinating thing about kiteboarding compared to other sports?
Absolutely nothing is as captivating as kiteboarding. As soon as I’m on the water holding the bar in my hands and feeling the board underneath my feet, I forget about everything else. The steering, board-control and changing conditions require all senses and constant attention. It happens quite often after sessions that I think I’ve been out on the water for only a few minutes, the time in-between: a blackout! Besides, kiteboarding has so many different facets that it never EVER gets boring. When I’m not up for freestyle, there are waves waiting for me to cut through or sliders to shredder.
Tell us about the project „The Liquid Circle“!
With pleasure. „Liquid Circle“ is an obstacle project. Three friends got together to push the park riding within the kiteboarding scene. The idea is to construct a portable A-frame and kicker. The construction consists of different parts that can be transported easily and together they form either a slider or kicker. The whole thing will be built up in different places and thoroughly shreddered this summer.
Your preference for obstacles reveals your snowboard roots. We can’t imagine the mountains without funparks. Do you see in that the future of kiteboarding?
Obstacles open up a new dimension in kiteboarding. With the kicker you can fly the kite even lower, twist your body even more and hold the grabs longer. And sliders are just one hell of fun. With obstacles the style is the most important aspect setting limits to (just) hanging on to the kite. It might not be the sport’s future but rather another aspect. But I think with that (kiteboarding will gain more acceptance among the boardsports.
That’s a good closing. Thank you, Jan, for your time. Good luck and enjoy the next season!
Story/Photos Jens Hogenkamp www.jenshogenkamp.com