Date of birth: 14.06.1988
Place of birth: Dachau, Germany
Zodiac sign: Gemini
How did you get into slacklining?
Through climbing and friends. I first came across it in my neighbours' garden and, after I'd had a few goes, decided it was absolutely impossible. But when a fixed line was installed behind the climbing hall, I started practising on it quite frequently and then used it for rehab following a knee injury.
What's so great about the sport?
Simplicity, independence and individuality. You can fix a slackline just about anywhere and just let it inspire you. There are no limits and every day you can achieve something you'd never have thought was possible. In fact, where slacklining is concerned, "impossible is nothing"!
What do you need to become a good slackliner?
For a start, patience and tenacity! Later on, when it comes to tricks on the line, a background in gymnastics is very useful and the more you get into it the more you have to work on your pain barrier! Really though, it's not so much a question of skills you bring with you to the sport. It's much more about developing hidden talents on the line. Everyone develops their own style with their own favourite tricks and challenges.
When did you start breaking records?
Well, the first personal record I broke was when I'd been practising for about an hour and I walked from one end of the slackline to the other! When I first started slacklining, I didn't have the faintest idea where it would all lead to! For me, personal records and personal bests have always meant a lot more than world records, although, of course, the one quite often leads to the other. Like, in 2010 Michi Aschaber and I set a world record walking a 254-meter long polyester slackline. Things are moving so fast in tricklining that it's really hard to talk in terms of setting world records. But there are at least a couple of things I've been the first to achieve recently that I'd like to mention here. One was a combination of a cartwheel and backflip, which we're already familiar with from floor gymnastics and another was a combination of several grabs (leaps where the hands and feet are brought together in varying positions) finishing with a backflip. As far as I know, nobody has ever repeated either of these combinations!
And where did you get your inspiration from?
Like I already said, one of the fascinating things about slacklining is the possibility of thinking up new ideas yourself and then putting them into practice. As the sport is still very new, there are still loads of opportunities to be the first to walk special lines, to think up new tricks and combinations, to go on pushing out your boundaries and to actively shape the sport. And I've no intention of missing out on any of these things!
What's your biggest slacklining success to date and what's your most memorable moment?
Walking the 254-meter line was an incredible feeling, the culmination of months of training and time spent focusing on the material - a dream come true. But there are also so many highlining and tricklining moments I never, ever want to forget. In 2010, at the Natural Games in France, I came second in the high-level international slackline contest. That was another dream come true. Not to mention the foreign travel – like my trip to South Africa with Adidas – opportunities like that have really enriched my life and have given me new inspiration for my dreams.
How do you go about preparing for a highline?
Hard to say...It's different every time and depends on the individual situation. But there isn't really a preparation stage as such. You just get on with it. Learning by doing.
How intensive does slackline training need to be?
The rapid development of slacklining is making it harder both to be a good trickliner and to achieve spectacular highline performances. And if you want to push the limits in longlining you really have to work flat out. At the moment, I do trickline training at least once a week and try to do highlining almost every weekend. Mostly, I do longline training when I've got a record attempt coming up. That's just my training plan during the semester. During vacations, I devote my time almost exclusively to long-distance travel and projects.
What goals have you set yourself. What do you still want to achieve in this sport?
I want to walk an even longer line with Michi Aschaber. Just see how much further the it will carry us. Apart from that there are a couple of spectacular and above all incredibly long highlines coming up as well as a few competitions that I want to be really well prepared for!
What has been your best line so far?
Can't really answer that one. But I'm always on the lookout for an even more perfect, more beautiful and more challenging line!
Have you ever experienced a really scary situation on a highline?
To be honest, fear is your constant companion when you're up there but it stops you doing all kinds of stupid things! We're always very careful and it's especially important to know your material really well. If you do, then I think highlining can be a very safe activity!
What would you say are your particular strengths?
Motivation. I'm chronically over-motivated. In fact, I could say that's not just my greatest strength but also my greatest weakness!
A lot of people do slacklining barefoot but you wear shoes. Why's that?
Well, jumping in particular is much more comfortable when you're wearing shoes and, more importantly, you're better protected from injury. When I'm on a very long line then I do like to be barefoot because that way you get a better feeling for the line!
What shoes are best for slacklining?
The shoe needs to have a flat, slip-resistant sole that musn't be too thick. So skater shoes are often quite good but there's also a shoe designed for watersports – the “Boat CC Lace“ by Adidas makes a great slackline shoe particularly as it's so lightweight!
Do you practise any other sports or at least do strength training to keepfit?
I still climb and swim regularly and that's all I need to do to keep fit at the moment. Having said that, I have started to think quite intensively about finding some other special way to keep myself fit!
Would you say there's an upper age limit for slacklining? How long do you think you can carry on doing this sport?
I don't really think there's an age limit. Just walking on a slackline is probably one of the least demanding physical activities you can imagine and I know quite a few people who are still enjoying it at a ripe old age! Of course, the extreme forms of tricklining and highlining are likely to take their toll but I hope I'll still be on the slackline when I'm really old!
You mentioned your trip to South Africa – what exactyl did you do there?
At the beginning of 2011 I found out that I had the opportunity to tag along with adidas to South Africa within the scope of the Absa Cape Epic – a mountain bike race – of course I was on fire. After a brief research I had first contact with the local Warren Gans, who was already able to walk some highlines around Cape Town. As he seems to be the only highliner in whole South Africa and quite fed up with being alone, he was super stoked once hearing my plan! The plan was quickly composed, I was suppose to fly to Cape Town together with Niclas Loeffler, a young and very ambitious filmmaker, where we did some nice Slacklines and shooted a film for adidas.