We caught up with Pro Wakesurfer Markus Lahmer at his home in Vienna, Austria.
Where are you right now for the people that don’t know?
I’m at home in Vienna Austria, Europe. Sitting here… It’s winter. It’s -10°C outside, which is not the average but it is actually quite Canadian right now here. And yeah, enjoying the winter as much as we can. We also have COVID. We also have lockdowns. Ski slopes are open. We need lifts to operate but yeah, we don’t get to ride as much as we usually do. But we do what we can, yeah.
You turned pro in 2018. You are Austria’s only pro rider, correct?
When it’s not snowing outside and freezing cold and all of that, where do you get to ride?
Actually, our winter is not that long. We have a pretty long wake surf season. Usually we start in March-April, around then. Then we go all summer, obviously. It’s very comparable to most Canadian locations actually. We have hot summers, cold winters. We usually ride until October, November sometimes, before we have to put the boat away and get the snowboards out of the shed. But yeah. We get to ride for like eight or nine months a year, which is not so bad.
I know your set up is a little bit different than most. You’re not on a lake. I know Austria has beautiful lakes all over the place.
Yeah, we have a few. We have a few lakes. Then, we have very few where we can operate boats. We have the venue we are surfing. It’s on the river. It goes straight through Vienna City Centre. We have the underground actually. The underground stop is right next to where we keep the boat and it’s perfectly connected in the middle of the centre of the city. We surf there every day in summer and have good times. Usually, under the bridge.
So, you take the subway to get to your boat? That’s how you get to your boat?
Well, I don’t take the subway to the boat because I usually have a lot of stuff with me. But no, it is just to demonstrate how central it is. Basically, St. Stephen’s Cathedral is our main stop in the city and that’s four stations on the underground so we’re very central and there is no walking. Perfectly connected. There’s a lot of infrastructure being built right now. We’re getting a new station for Ohana Vienna. We’re going to build this out later next year. I’m very excited about that. To finally make a cool home base. When you guys finally come over, we’re going to hang out and we’re just going to ride our asses off. We have the river. We have current. We surf through a couple of bridges even but it sounds way worse than it is. You’ll be amazed where the city centre is and just nobody thinks of surfing and there we are. It’s awesome. Good times.
I know. It was weird. I was supposed to be coming there in June was our plan last year until the world had different plans for us and nobody could go. You are actually the last of my international friends that I’ve seen in person before this whole thing shook down.
Oh yeah, man. Don’t remind me of that. That was a sad story. Seeing you was the best part by far. I guess for everyone. I had booked the Heli ski trip to Canada. I even won that. I didn’t even have to pay for it, which was even better. But then yeah, COVID came in and we had to turn around. I took the flight until Vancouver. Didn’t make the leg to Kaslo. Took a room overnight and headed back the next day. It was a fun night. It was probably the last night out at all.
Same thing for me. I’m like, it was kind of still normal. We were like, what’s going on? People were talking. He went to a restaurant for dinner. There are people out still. And everything the next day kind of changed. It was weird.
Wild times. Wild times.
Who’s helping support your wake surfing?
Okay, yeah. Well, phase five obviously as you mentioned has been really good to me from my first worlds in 2015 on. I believe I was the first European team rider or international team rider. Ever since we had good times and great support. Best sports obviously I love them. Can’t imagine riding another one. It’s just really good. And other than that, I have Mystic Wetsuits supporting me. Most of my friends. Flo, the cage surfer. He supports me a lot.
You actually normally get down to Florida for a bunch of riding with all your team, Phase Five Riders.
Usually, if it’s not Corona times, yeah.
You miss Florida?
Oh yeah, man. Don’t remind me. Yeah. It’s been a while actually. I think it must be one and a half years by now or something like that. It’s crazy how time flies actually. Yeah, what can I say? Good times. Obviously, I got to take part in the Phase Five Team photoshoots. A couple times and love to come hang out with John, Keenan and all my buddies. I really miss that. I really miss the good times. But we’re talking frequently. I have a little son. He turned one three days ago. Isn’t that great?
Oh man. I missed his birthday. I feel bad.
Yeah. Actually, Sean should feel bad. Sean is his Godfather. Sean Silveria, man, you missed out. You can make up next year man. But no, anyway just kidding. Been talking a lot and we were actually really trying and hoping to come for Christmas, going to Florida… Obviously, it did not happen. Times did not allow it and we have to take it as it is. But I think we are on the right path. I think it could be over soon. Nobody knows but I’m pretty positive. I think we can’t change the situation anyway. You have to make the best out of it. Go out as much as you can. Enjoy nature. Do other things that’s not clubbing or going to a bar. I mean I’m a fresh dad. It’s easy talking as a fresh dad, I know. I think there’s so many great things to do out there and it gives you a little different perspective on life maybe.
I know I’ve tried to make the most of it. I picked up where you left off. I’m never really home in Canada for the winter but you would always fly and come see some of our friends in the winter and you started snowmobiling.
Oh yeah, I did. It’s been a while. That was on the list too for this year. Snowmobiling, it’s fun. Actually, I ended up starting doing it with Phil Wilson. So many people invited me. All the Canadian guys basically. They were like, “You have to come in winter. You’re going to love it. It’s so awesome. Let’s go snowmobiling.” I guess taking Phil up on it was the best idea ever. He’s the best snowmobiling coach that I can think of. I wouldn’t want to do it with anyone else. Phil, if you see this. Muchos Gracias. We hope to be back soon and cutting down some trees. Help me dig my sled out. We need those Philly bear muscles. Yeah, good times. Sledding is fun, man. It’s not allowed here in Austria obviously. We’re too small of a country. We don’t have those regions. But yeah, no. Canada, man. Yeah, I miss it.
It is an incredible amount of work riding a snowmobile. Is it not?
Especially if you have no pre-experience in any bike riding or anything like that. Oh, man. Too many funny stories and memories. I think I remember… One of the main stories I always tell is when we got to the first hill to basically try for the first time out in the powder to get up the hill on a little face basically. I think on the first time up, I went up wherever and then I just ended up letting go of the gas. The snowmobile rolled over obviously because I got too scared. Phil came. We dug it out. We rolled it over. Second attempt. I was like, “Okay. You have to keep on the throttle.” I remember that. I get up and kept going. It was flat. It was nothing really like… nothing. I remember I went to ride and I was like, “Okay. Just keep going. Keep going.” And then as they tell you at the driving school, don’t look where you’re going basically. And then there was a bunch of trees and I kind of navigated through those and then it was this big ass tree. I obviously looked at it and thought, “Don’t hit this one. Don’t hit this one.” Next thing you know, Phil came over and gave me a little chainsaw. “Yeah, bro. That’s your tree. Cut it down.” A lot of sweating. A lot of digging. A lot of rolling snowmobiles over but so much fun. So rewarding. Best thing ever. Can’t wait to be back doing it.
It made me rethink winter a little bit.
What about you? Didn’t you get into snowmobiling recently?
Yes, I’ve been sledding a lot.
I remember you never joined us. When I was there, you never joined in.
I was never in the country. I was always somewhere warm. I don’t participate in winter ever.
Corona got you into sledding then.
Yes, I’ve been going with Gary and Phil. It’s pretty cool.
Not to mention Gary. Big help from Gary.
He’s a beast. He’s constantly getting me out. The poor guy. I’m fully responsible for his six pack. That’s me. He often helps dig me out. No, it’s been cool. I really enjoy it. It’s totally different than any other sport. I ride boards. No Motorsports. I should own nothing that goes fast at all. It’s a terrible idea to give me something fast. At least in the snow, it’s a soft landing. Like, when you’re trying to jump them and stuff. But yeah, it’s been good. I smashed my knees all up the other day. I tried jumping something and it didn’t go. It looked different than I was hoping.
Was it deep snow at least?
Yes. Yes. Yes. The problem is it’s not the snow that hurts when you hit it. It hurts when you hit either a tree or your snowmobile.
Beneath the panels right?
Oh, yeah. Yeah. Super fun.
It’s nighttime there?
Yeah, it’s nighttime here.
I’m joining you even though it’s morning where I am. (sips beer)
Cheers. (sips beer)
Cheers Corona beers nowadays.
Yeah, exactly. Let’s go back to some of the stuff in your neck of the woods. You guys have a pretty cool Austrian surf series going on. I know that you got some up-and-coming riders too. You speak to kind of both of those things.
Yeah, we do. I think in general, in Europe, the sport is growing quite fast. Especially Switzerland, Austria. We do have our tour obviously. We’re going to have three stops this year, most likely as it’s looking. And always with the final in Feldman Lake to say which is just the best lake ever. It’s gorgeous. It’s a nice little town. There are usually good parties. We are always looking forward to that. And then, Switzerland. Switzerland is really booming in wake surfing. It’s crazy what’s going on there. Yeah, up and coming riders. I mean, Seb, Ant, and me, we’re kind of getting older. We’re not really getting younger. And finally, we have some young dudes chasing our tails and kicking our butts. I mean, it is like it is. Mike Kunz is killing it. And then, we have a really good… he’s from Switzerland. And then we have another Swiss dude, Oli Scokaert. It was a little bit unfortunate at Worlds last year but a lot of potential in my eyes race for Phase Five Two. I see a lot of potential with him. He’s, I think, 19 years old. it’s just good to see that Europe also has like some of the really, really young people that are getting after it and becoming… challenging the guys overseas. Keep challenging the young guns. There’s so much talent out there right now and it’s crazy to keep up.
That’s really awesome. Speaking of trying to keep up… You got some goals? You got some new things you’re working on this season?
To be honest, for me, the whole COVID thing was… if it has a good part, it was probably how it affected my wake surfing because as I said, I have a little son at home. He is one year old. We spend all summer on the boat together. I’m turning 35 this year. Perspective changed a little bit. For me, I really miss competing in terms of seeing people and meeting new friends all over the place, seeing them again. But like the whole competing itself for me, obviously, it is getting to the background more and more. it’s just fun. I just want to have fun with my family and my son on the boat. I’ll still be around. I’ll still travel and I’ll still come see you guys as soon as it’s possible again. I’m not sure how intense anymore but yeah, I definitely don’t want to give that up.
It looks like he’s having a pretty good start to a snowboard career.
Oh, yeah. He is snowboarding. Yeah. You saw that on Instagram. Yeah?
I did. I did.
I took him snowboarding, like proper. We did a couple test sessions before. But on a real hill, like we actually went up on the lift and everything and I strapped him in this mount that I can carry him with. I mean, he’s able to walk and to run around. But obviously he can’t really snowboard. His stance is a bit too wide. But now I strapped him in and he loved it. We just went up and down the mountain I think six or seven times. And yeah, good times.
What is that device you have for him?
I think it’s called a walking aid. Just strap it to the kid basically. And then, you have like a… How you call this? Like a theater, you know? A theater where you have those puppets. Yeah. That’s pretty similar.
Yeah. I saw him going down the hill and you had him riding switch. He hasn’t chosen stance yet, but I guess if you start him like Dad, he’s going to choose.
I just had it on my Insta story. I’m a lazy Insta poster lately but I have to post that one for sure. Yeah, I’ll put it on my Instagram.
That was really awesome.
Yeah, it’s awesome. He loved it. And it was a beautiful day too so, what more do you want? And yeah, good times.
Life’s pretty different but it’s still pretty cool these days, man.
I kind of found I got to do a whole bunch of stuff that I normally wouldn’t. Like snowmobiling for instance. I would come home and like snowboard one time over the winter and fly home for a week and see family and do all that kind of stuff. And then… I would go out for a day on the mountain. But now I kind of snowboard one day a week. We can pretty much mountain bike here all year round too. It’s kind of weird. In Vancouver there’s snow in the mountains but not in the city. So, you can golf year round here. I started golfing.
So, did you go ride in Whistler? Where did you go?
Ah, no. Big White out of Kelowna a whole bunch. And then if I’m on the coast, I’ll just go to Cypress… I got a pass to a local mountain here. You know when you were in town, I showed you there’s three big sets of lights above the city on the mountains? There are three local mountains so you can snowboard at night and see like the entire city lights.
I think we’ve even seen it. You showed it to me.
Yeah, it’s pretty cool.
I don’t remember exactly.
No. I’m sure there’s good reasons for that… Before you leave us here, anything you want to part us with? You got any dirt on people? Share some secrets?
Oh, dirt on people. The only thing I’m wondering is have you seen Chad Hudson? Is he around still or fucked off in Mexico with his side by side never to be seen again?
Yeah, he might be…
I don’t think he tried to snowmobile.
He tried it one time.
He promised me every time to come when I was there and he never made it out. He never made it.
His exact words are it is… “The stupidest explicit beep, beep, beep, beep sport I have ever been a part of. No.”
Maybe we can prove him wrong one day.
We’ll kidnap him. It’ll be a good time. When the world returns to normal.
Awesome, man. It’s been really good talking to you.
Really good talking, seeing, hearing you, and talking wake surfing.
Absolutely. Absolutely, man.
Yeah. Looking forward to get back on the water soon and hopefully together.
I can’t wait, man. I’m looking forward to it. See you buddy.
All right. See you. Good times.