In an interview with ISPO.COM, he explains why he prefers wakeboarding today and why the 26-year-old is already thinking about ending his career.
ISPO.COM: Mr. Gührs, you came to wakeboarding rather by chance. As a ten-year-old, you wanted to buy a skateboard, but the salesman persuaded you to buy a wakeboard. Now you are a two-time world champion and three-time European champion - did you ever kiss the man's feet afterwards?
Dominik Gührs: I even went back to the store at some point, but the salesman was no longer working there. That was really cool back then. He showed me a wakeboard and said: "Here, try this! We just got a new one in. It's much cooler than a skateboard."
Did you even know what a wakeboard is?
No, I didn't. But then I tried it out, I really liked it right away - and now I've been wakeboarding for 16 years.
And what did your parents think of the idea?
They've always been totally supportive of me and my brother, and they've always been sporty themselves.
But not on the wakeboard?
You've tried it before, you could do it right away, but you didn't stick with it.
"Munich? Most beautiful city in the world"
How do you like the facility on the Olympic lake?
It's awesome that there's a big-air event in Munich at the Munich Mash! But the kicker could even be a bit higher. So that you fly higher. Now it's more of a step-up kicker.
That means you don't have much time to show your tricks in the air.
Exactly. But everyone has to deal with it; the conditions are the same for everyone.
Your competition season runs from April to December, plus video and photo shoots. How often are you back home?
I'm on the road seven months a year, but I really enjoy Munich the most. Every time I come back, I think to myself, "Awesome, finally being back home!" I've been to so many places, but Munich is the most beautiful city in the world for me. It's just so chill here.
Gührs also takes a break
Your favorite wakeboard spot?
I like to go to the Thai Wake Park near Bangkok in winter, and there are also three cool facilities on Phuket - Thailand is generally awesome! You can just go to the islands for a few days to relax.
Do you ever take a complete break from the board?
Two months. I just do fitness - and take care of my joints.
Your sport is not exactly healthy.
You're always slapping down quite a bit, not into the steep part like here on the ramp, but usually into the flat part. It's hard on your knees and back. But you get used to it.
Wakeboarding - not even that harmless
You had a bad hit in 2003: fracture of the base of the skull.
Someone ran over me. He thought he could still get past me in the turn, but then the lift pulled him in my direction. Back then, people didn't wear helmets because there were no kickers yet.
A broken metacarpal and other minor things. And once, in a fall, it pushed my foot forward in the binding, so that all my toes were dislocated and the blood vessels burst. That lasted three months.
You mentioned the video and photo shoots. Is that becoming more important in the Go-Pro age?
Absolutely. In the past, there was only the competitions. Today, it's totally important to make good films and photos. You can reach so many people via the Internet.
And it's fun, too, isn't it?
Mega! If I fall while filming, I just do the trick again. In a competition, everything always has to be perfect - and sometimes it just doesn't work out.
Your workplace is the most beautiful places in the world. Where do you go?
Florida, Thailand, Bali, Antalya in Turkey.
And now Munich! Do you think it's a shame that the X-Games won't be stopping here anymore?
In the end it doesn't matter, because now there's Munich Mash. I think it's good that Munich is a city that keeps extreme sports alive, according to the motto: "If we don't have the X-Games anymore, we'll just do our own thing." At the Munich Mash, the world's best athletes are at the start. In that respect, it doesn't make much difference to the X-Games.
Is the Olympics a topic for wakeboarders?
It was supposed to be a demo competition in 2020, but it probably won't be. It would be nice.
Could be close for you.
I'm 26, so from my mid-30s on, you stop.
"Monkey sees, monkey does.
Do you have a favorite trick?
I like double somersaults. I'm planning to do them here, too, but I haven't dared yet in training. It could be tight, but I'll definitely give it a try.
How many tricks do you have up your sleeve?
About a hundred.
At some point, every trick is done, right?
No, not really. You often think you can't do any more, but somehow you find a way. Then a rider comes along with a crazy move, and everyone thinks, "I have to do that, too!" I call that "monkey sees, monkey does." There's never an end to it. I'm curious to see where wakeboarding will be in 20 years.
Do you still have to explain your job a lot?
The sport is still in its infancy. It's growing, but there's a lot more to it. A lot of people ask me, "Wakeboarding? Is that the one with the umbrella?" Nah, that's kiteboarding.
You have a skateboard by now, though, right?
Yes, but I can't do it at all.
Snowboarding is quite similar to wakeboarding, but I can't do any sports where I'm not fixed on the board. I would probably have to practice more. But I don't feel like it.
You’ve already mentioned video and photo shoots. Will they become increasingly important in this Go-Pro age?
Yes, absolutely. There only used to be competitions. But now it’s really important to release great films and photos. You can just reach so many people via the internet.
But it’s still good fun, isn’t it?
Definitely! If I fall over when we’re filming, I can simply do the trick again. Everything has to be perfect when I’m competing, and sometimes it just doesn’t happen.
You work in some of the most beautiful locations in the world. Where have you been?
Florida, Thailand, Bali, Antalya in Turkey.
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And now Munich! Is it a shame that the X Games don’t come here any more?
It doesn’t matter in the end because we’ve got the Munich Mash. I think it’s great that Munich is a city where extreme sports are alive and live by the following motto: “If we haven’t got the X Games any more, we’ll do our own thing.” The world’s best athletes line up at the start line at Munich Mash. So it’s not much different from the X Games.
Are the Olympics something that’s discussed among wakeboarders?
There was supposed to be a demo competition in 2020, but that’s not happening now. Of course, it would be nice.
That could be cutting it a bit fine for you.
I’m 26 and you tend to retire in your mid 30s.
“Monkey see, monkey do”
Do you have a favorite trick?
I like double somersaults. I’ve planned to do it here but I’ve not yet given it a go in training. It could be a bit tight but I’ll certainly try.
How many tricks have you got up your sleeve in total?
Close to one hundred.
But at some point you’ll have done every trick, won’t you?
No, not at all. You often think that there’s no more, but somehow you find a way. A rider comes and does a stray move and we all think: “I want to do that too!” I call that “monkey see, monkey do”. It’s never-ending. I’m excited to see where wakeboarding is in 20 years.
Do you often have to explain your job?
The sport is still in its infancy. It’s growing but there is still a lot more to give. Many people ask me: “Wakeboarding? Is that the thing with a kite?” No, that’s kitesurfing.
Have you got a skateboard now?
Yes, but I can’t do it at all.
Snowboarding and wakeboarding are really similar, but I can’t do any kind of sport where I’m not fixed to the board. I probably just need to practice more. But I don’t feel like it.