He’s German, but don’t hold that against him. Photo: Said Burg
Windsurfing, East Germany, two plankers, earthquakes, diarrhea – Benny Urban’s road to rising snowboard uber mega star could have been derailed like the best of them by the aforementioned, or beers, bitches and bad injuries. But with one of the most versatile and creative bags in the game, somehow rising out of the flat lands of Germany, making a name for himself in Europe and now here, in the good ole US of A, is a truly radical story for the 21-year-old German style master. One of the most humble rail riders in existence these days, Germany’s best jibber appears ready to take on the motherfucking world and with appearances in the soon to be released “Hyped!”, shit could happen sooner, rather than later. Hey, Berlin Wall! Benny Urban is coming for you.
So, how did you get the snowboard bug?
I think I already had the snowboard bug before I even tried to ride myself. I just always thought it looked so cool and imagined what tricks could possibly be done on it. I was already rolling around on my first skateboard by the time I was 6. Then my dad was telling me that we’ll go on a skiing trip to the Alps over Christmas. I got super excited and was begging him to let me rent a snowboard for the day. He said okay done deal, but on the very first day I’ll have to ride around the resort on skis and the day after you can get a board. I didn’t like skiing at all. As soon as I got the rental, I was begging him to buy a board for me. So yeah – I instantly got hooked on it at the age of 6. It was a 136 Mad with hard boots.
You are from Hamburg, Germany. You guys invented the hamburger, right?
We have a place in Hamburg, that for sure makes the best burgers in the world. Place called Hesburger in St. Pauli. You should get one if you’ll be there one day. I don’t know about inventing them, though.
Hamburg is the best city, man. It is really far away from the mountains, though. Like 600/700 Miles. I used to travel a lot to be able to go snowboarding. Now I live in Munich, which is right by the Alps and has a good airport to go on trips.
How have Americans, the inventors of the hamburger, fucked up the hamburger?
I guess by just using crappy meat and making them too fast, so that they actually don’t care how it tastes. But I have to say that I’ve eaten really good burgers in the US. In N Out Burger is super good. Some local burger places are also the bomb. In Big Bear they have a real good one.
Wonder what he would be into if his last name was Backcountry? Photo Lolli
Urban Tank Diarrhea – tell us about your video empire. What is this – shitting while snowboarding? Sounds like some Halldor Helgason type stuff.
(Laughing) It’s pretty cool that you know about that. The Urban Tank Diarrhea, or the Turban diary, is just a funny idea that Alex Tank, me and our mutual sponsor Arnette came up with. It’s kind of like a diary, but more like a monthly blog post, including a B-Roll edit and some behind the scenes photos from our filming missions and trips to all the different places we go to film for our video parts. We also write (sometimes) about what has happened and what will be next on our plan.
Summer – it’s over! Did you spend much time shredding the fake indoor slopes and getting ready for winter?
Oh man, I haven’t been riding the indoor slopes for a really long time now. Probably 2 years or so. I was already snowboarding a long time before they built the indoor slope near Hamburg. But at the time it was perfect for me because I just suffered a bad shoulder surgery, so I was out for a year and then still had to finish school, so there was not a lot of time to go somewhere to snowboard. So I just went to their park almost every evening and rode rails. I guess that’s where I improved my trick bag at the time. No one there is watching you and expects good riding from you. Just good rails, friends, music and yourself.
But these days I just go ride a little snow patch with my homies in the preseason. I’m not really into all these glacier openings. It’s always so crowded and busy. As soon as the snow comes around we’ll be up at the spot, hiking our stuff.
Not the Berlin Wall. Actually in Finland. Photo: Ruedi Flueck
Did your parents or grandparents ever have to scale the Berlin Wall?
I think my grandfather had to. My parents didn’t because at the time they were living further away from the eastern part of Germany, so they didn’t really have troubles with it. My mum was windsurfing at this lake once and got caught in the wind so that she had to get out on the other side which was the DDR, Deutsche Demokratische Republik – East Germany. She got into quite some problems because nobody was allowed to step on their ground without permission. But I hope that everyone that is reading this, is aware of the fact that it’s not like this in Germany anymore.
Have you ever thought about snowboarding the Berlin Wall and truly unifying East and Western Germany once and for all? Would people be stoked or what? Would the wall be good for shredding?
Yeah, I actually have thought about it, because people already snowboarded on it. I think it was the Pleasure Magazine that made a story about snowboarding in Eastern Germany. And there was a shot of Sebi MÃ¼ller, I think, who actually bomb dropped the thing pretty much to flat. It was raw. The wall is broken apart all over now. In 1989, East and West Germany unified and there are only left over parts, but you actually just inspired me. I should put that on my to do list.
I was told you love Cobra Dogs to death. Tell us about this. Are delicious hot dogs illegal in Germany?
(Laughing) Yes, that is a true fact. I have to say, that I love food in general. So much that my homie Alex Tank always claims that I’ll be fat when I quit snowboarding. Cobra Dogs are delicious man. So good. They should open one somewhere around here.
Did your mom use to run security for you on street rails? Was she down to banshee bungee you into shit or shovel? Does your mom shred?
Nope, my Mum doesn’t shred, but my dad does. After he bought me the little hard boot board when I was 6 and he saw how much fun I was having, and how convincing it looks to see me jumping around, he tried it himself and loved it. (Laughing) I never went to a spot with any of my parents but they’ve been to some contests when I was still competing in some events. They liked watching.
Why land on snow when you can land on a wall? Photo: Flo Trattner
Is European security mellower to deal with than the surly rent a cops and police force in the U.S.?
For sure dude. The cops in the States are a pain in the ass. It’s horrible. You just have to step on your skateboard or strap in to your bindings and they’ll make you feel like a criminal. Calm down, we’re just riding our skate and snowboards. But I guess the reason for this, is that in the U.S. they are just way more used to seeing that. In Europe a lot of cops haven’t even seen people riding their snowboards in the city, so they stop, and they will be all excited to watch and kind of forget about the fact, that we’re actually scratching something. So most of the time they don’t really do anything.
You’re 21. Girls, snowboarding or partying. What’s the most fun? Or, just combine all three into a wild orgy like the Helgason’s would do?
I think the Helgason’s are really good in combining those things. At least that’s what you get to hear and see. But they’re both still so focused on their thing, so why not? For me, I rather prefer to do each at a time, even if that sounds lame. I really don’t like riding when I’m hungover. It’s fun if you just lurk around and do stupid shit. But I like it more, when I can really work on a trick or even learn new tricks.
But there is nothing better than a good night out with the homeys after a full good day shredding when you hop on a plane the next day and you can sleep, anyways.
You’re going out. What’s your drink of choice?
Seriously, he loves landing on walls. Photo: Christian Brecheis
Did you lose your virginity to a hooker like they do in South America? Dad’s take their boys to brothels down there and have a prostitute show them the ropes. Not a bad deal, huh?
Are you kidding? Holy Shit, I didn’t know that stuff like that is still present in our time. (Laughing) I guess I’m just too naive.
Do you detune at all? Do you do any special German to your setup we should know about that we would be unfamiliar with in the states?
Normally I don’t tell because it’s a secret. But I have to make an exception because this is Yobeat. Okay, so what I do when some of my boards are too stiff. What sometimes happen because I still like to ride regular camber boards – real snowboards so to say. I put them on 2 German Augustiner BrÃ¤u beer boxes. One on the left one on the right so that the part between the bindings is free. Then I put heavy rocks on top between the bindings so that they flex the board negative. Leave it like that. Go to bed and the next morning you’ll have a poppy ass board which is soft and still has response when you press super hard. This only works with Augustiner BrÃ¤u beer boxes and those you can only get here in Germany.
Would you consider yourself World’s Most Famous German snowboarder?
Hell no. David Benedek. Living Legend.
I read somewhere that Canada is one of your favorite countries. What’s your problem with America?
Ohh Canada!! My Mum is French Canadian. So I got Quebecois blood in me and am proud of it. But I’m really not the typical European that has a problem with America. I know that will bring some hate, but I just prefer Canada.
Switch boardslide 270-out: Photo Yarrek
School is for people who don’t snowboard very well. What are you going to school for?
I just thought that there is still lots of time in my life which I spend on doing useless things like laying around in bed all day after partying on a Monday. So I snowboard, I skateboard, take photos, hang out with the best girl in the world and I go to school. I’m studying a subject which is called sports-science / sports-engineering. For me it’s something which is really interesting because as a snowboarder I experienced a lot of the stuff they teach us in person already. I only go to school in the summer and fall so I pretty much have time to snowboard all winter. Not easy to combine, that’s for sure.
Plans for this winter?
No injuries, have fun progressing my riding, being able to do what I want and Film a full part.
You just got back from Costa Rica and made it through a horrific earthquake. What was that like?
Costa Rica was freaking crazy during the earthquake. We woke up that day because our room was shaking like mad and I didn’t really realize it until my girlfriend was screaming at me that we should leave the house immediately. It was a tough experience for sure. After that we got a text message from Europe that there was a tsunami warning for Costa Rica and we should leave as fast as possible. So we packed all our gear so that we would be ready to leave if this would be the case. Anyways, after a while they took back the warning, so luckily nothing happened and we could stay there.
In closing, any Benny Urban words of wisdom?
Thank you! Yobeat is awesome. Snowboarding is awesome. Don’t take it too serious. Have fun riding and watch snowboard videos.