Kaspar Heinrici: Catch Him If You Can
Kaspar Heinrici is a legend of New York City’s longboarding community. He has earned this title by winning the most consecutive Broadway Bombs as well as the fastest timed run. The “Bomb” is an outlaw skateboard race down Broadway from 116th Street to Bowling Green, through red lights, traffic, pedestrians, the works. The annual race has grown to over three hundred riders, so Kaspar’s victories and the tales of his death-defying feats are the stuff of modern-day heroes. Kaspar continues to train regularly and push boundaries in the sport with the help of his sponsors Earthwing Skateboards and Surf-Rodz trucks. Freshpaved’s Nethanial Cohen sat down with Kaspar for a conversation.
Interviewed by Nethanial Cohen
Photos Courtesy of Kaspar Heinrici
What do you enjoy about everyday life that makes you get up in the morning?
Well, for a long time, my life has been driven by general ambition. I love making and designing things, especially when it comes to drawing and physical activity, which can also be an art form.
Tell us about your art.
I grew up with a lot of pop art in the 80s and really enjoy those bright colors. My work is about repeating colorful patterns. Just as much fun as you have with skating is the same way you can get wrapped up in all those amazing designs and ideas.
What led you to longboarding?
The other day I got a bit restless and headed out for a skate. It’s the stress release aspect that originally drew me to longboarding.
How do you balance your career with your dedication to this sport?
Well it’s difficult now…it was much easier in the beginning. At a younger age, I had far fewer career opportunities, but now I have to skate any chance I get, because sessions with the crew are too few and far between. In a previous life, I was a competitive ski racer, so I have a background for fitness and competition. Nowadays, I just use (longboarding) to get around as transportation and to hang out with my friends and stay in shape.
Why do you compete?
The getting to and from work – the point A to point B challenge – is why I compete in long distance races.
How do you train for races? Or is skating so engrained in your day-to-day life that race day is just another day on your board?
I would say that when I started doing these races it was just another day, because I had so much time to be out skating. Nowadays, I have to focus on it and use the training from my ski racing and apply that to my skateboarding so I don’t skate to the point that my body breaks down. I mountain bike, surf, do plyometrics, etc. because it all improves your skating.
Do you have any race day preparations or rituals?
Stretching mostly. Otherwise, you’ll hurt yourself when you’re older.
Do you have any words for people trying to become faster riders? What does it take to win?
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Whoever shows up on race day with the most heart and stoke is going to be the person to win the race. The person with the most devotion spends the most time on his board…people should think you’re a psychopath. You should have a burning desire to be as fast as you can be on your board.
In light of all the emerging skate genres, what do you feel makes the most well rounded skater?
I think the key to being a great all-around skater is gravitating towards the people you find are doing interesting things at the time. That’s how I got involved in distance pushing. Then the Earthwing team got into tech sliding, and I became interested in that that. Finally, you have people like Cory Wilder and Adam Colton and the amazing things they’re doing with cross stepping. When I skate around town, I toss a cross step in there because of them. When you see something that impresses you, you try to incorporate it into your own skating.
What do you like about the scene, and what do you feel needs improvement?
What I like most about long boarding is that it’s unique and it’s irreverent. There is a feeling that it’s you against the city…because here, no one’s your friend on the street, and you definitely pick up that vibe. When I started skating in 2003, there were only a few people, but now…there are so many more people involved, and that’s why this is the year of long board! In ’09, we had over 400 people at the bomb and I think that’s crazy, but that’s why I love it. The more the merrier…that’s how you get more styles out there.
What drove you to win the Broadway Bomb four consecutive times?
At the Bomb in ’03, Doug Dupin came in second…Ian Nichols won, I think. I was watching these guys, because I was behind them most of the way, and they just pulled away at around Union Square. I was so impressed that these guys were really pushing as hard as they were. I was so inspired, especially by Doug, because he had also beaten me at that year’s Central Park race. I thought, this is something I can do, and the more I skated, the more confident and comfortable on a board I got. Why would you ride the train or bus when you realize you can get there just as fast on your board? It’s nice to say you’re the fastest skater in New York…at least for a little while.
Do you still have it out for Doug Dupin or are you guys buddies now?
Sometimes I wish we could have a masters race…kind of a return of the legends because I haven’t seen him since 2004. So, Doug, if you’re out there, I’m looking for you buddy!
Since you’ve already done so much for the skate scene and yourself, how would you like to grow as a skater?
Corey Wilder has always inspired me along with Adam Colton. They should get together!!! It’s like watching your idol and trying to imitate your idol, so I’ll try to keep it fresh. There are longer races now that also take teamwork, and that’s a new aspect of skating. It’s all new, emerging, and changing. It’s a really exciting time for skating, and I’m just happy to be a part of it all.
Skating is getting more fun and extreme all the time. Don’t take it for granted that this sport is growing so fast. Wear your helmet and have fun!