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Interview With Steve Schoenhals

Author: Kent Kingsford
Date: 2-20-2005

When Wakeskating.com asked me if I could find time to do an interview with Steve Schoenhals for the site, I immediately jumped at the chance. What was special about this interview was that the members of the Wakeskating.com community were asked to submit questions that they wanted answered by Steve, so naturally I was happily obliged to use as many of those as possible. I was also allowed a little latitude in submitting a few questions of my own.

I was shocked however, to find how little some of the members knew about Schoenhals. Hailing from Michigan, Steve not only took 1st place beating out Arron Reed and the Iconic Thomas Horrell, at the Ft. Worth tour stop in 2004, he also bested Brandon Thomas and Brian Grubb to take the Vans WWA Wakeboard Nationals.

The win at Nationals earned Steve the title "2004 Pro Wakeskate National Champion," making his second first place finish a memorable one. He also had a breakthrough part in Liquid Force's 04/05 team video by Justin Stephens, RELENTLESS.

Having learned a little about Steve myself, and now armed with an impressive list of awesome questions from members of the Wakeskating.com community, (as well as a couple of my own) I contacted Steve and put the screws to him. Here are the results.

Wakeskating.com (WS): Alright we'll start this off easy. How about your name, board, location, and favorite trick right now.
Steve Schoenhals (SS): My name is Steve Schoenhals, right now I'm riding the 41 LF IMPULSE, I live near Detroit Michigan, and I don't have a favorite trick.

WS: How did you first get noticed in the industry?
SS: I rode in the Detroit pro tour stop a few years ago. After my first run, Don Wallace from LF came up to me and said they were putting together a wakeskating team and asked if I wanted to ride on it. After that they helped me out getting some exposure and hooked me up with some other sponsors.

WS: What's an average day for you like right now?
SS: I usually go work at this ski hill near my house. It's pretty cool though, my friend Brian is in charge of making the park and all the rails, so it's kind of like our own snowboard park. So I go work there, then in the afternoon me and my friends ride there or go hit up some handrails and chill for the rest of the day.

WS: I heard your nickname is Schnoodles how did that come about?
SS: Well no body can pronounce my last name ever… so Schnoodles came about. I think Aaron Grace started calling me that when we were in Powell. The way you actually say my name is more like Shane-halls. So get it right!!

WS: Being from Michigan, and obviously having to deal with a real short season, what advice would you have for other riders that only have a limited amount of time on the water?
SS: Well when it's summer here for a brief three months I just ride as much as I can. I used to never have the chance to ride because I don't live on a lake, and had no one to ride with. But now a lot of my friends live on lakes so we ride a lot. For all you other northerners don't think of it as a disadvantage, because in the winter we get to snowboard. Also, I skate as much as I can the rest of the year it helps me get new ideas on things I want to try when summer comes around. Skating and snowboarding have influenced me a lot, and helped me get where I am.

WS: What tricks are you working on right now and what do you think will be the next "big trick" to pop up on film this year?
SS: At the end of the summer I was just working on a lot of switch stuff. I think the next big trick will be a three flip or some new w2w flip trick.

Steve Schoenhals

WS: Word is you get pretty "heated" about missing a trick, and often times you'll go right back out and land it first try; how do you feel about that?
SS: Yea it's true I have a pretty bad temper. Sometimes I wish I could stomp out my wakeskates like I do my skateboard decks. I don't know why I get so mad, I think sometimes I just expect more from myself than I should. It's weird too because Ill get all mad and just keep trying it over and over again until I stomp it, and then I calm down. I guess in a way it kind of helps me get better, but lately I have been trying to chill out more and just have fun with it.

WS: What other riders do you feel are currently pushing the sport in a new direction and how?
SS: I think George Daniels, Danny Hampson, and Ryan Lemons are definitely pushing the sport. Whenever I think I'm getting ahead of the game up in Michigan, I always come down and me and George go ride, and every time he'll go out there and do some warm up shit then he will just nail something crazy out of nowhere. When we go ride I'm always thinking "damn that was sick I got to learn that," he definitely helps push me and everyone else. Danny definitely has a sick style. He's really smooth on all the tech tricks he also just ads his own twist on normal tricks and makes them look sick. Ryan is really good he learns stuff so fast it's crazy. Like whenever I talk to him he's always landing stuff no one has ever done, so he's definitely pushing everyone to get better.

WS: What do you think an up and coming rider is going to need to be successful on the pro tour this year?
SS: The key to doing well on the tour is try to be consistent. So don't go out there and try your hardest stuff and fall 3 times in a row. I always go out there and try to hit a consistent run with a couple bangers in it.

WS: Do you feel like Tim's leaving liquid force has pushed more of the spotlight on your riding as well as, Joey White, and Phillip?
SS: Yea, Tim leaving definitely put more of the spotlight on the other riders on the team like Joey, Philip and me. It's good though because now it's more of like a team of equals and not one rider towering over the rest.

WS: What do you see as being the future direction for wakeskating, with regards to boat versus PWC or even S.T.D.s (stationary towing devices) and what are some things you like to see improved about, or behind these mediums?
SS: Well all these things like Boat's, Jet Ski's and Winches will play a big roll in the future. Cause all these things are different parts of the sport. The w2w riding behind a boat is still so young and there's so much room to push it. I think Jet Ski's will always have a part because they are great for hitting rails and going into shallow rivers to get that butter. Also I like learning flip tricks and other lip tricks behind them because you don't have to wait for the boat to turn around, the Jet Ski is back by the time you are ready to go again. Now winches are sick, they make it possible to ride any spot you see. I think they will help to bring a lot more variety to wakeskating in the future. That's what's so great about wakeskating: you can have fun behind anything, not just an $80,000 wakeboard boat.

WS: Why do you feel more and more pros are leaving there life jackets on the shore?
SS: I usually always ride with a life jacket, but like in Relentless if I'm not wearing one it's because the water's clear and like waist deep. I have definitely slapped my face on the water and seen stars; I have also come real close to smashing my face on the board. I wear one because I don't want to end up getting knocked out and sinking to the bottom of some lake.

WS: Have you ever found yourself poking around Wakeskating.com, and what do you come here looking for?
SS: Yeah I check out Wakeskating.com sometimes. I go on more in the winter to just see what's going down in Florida and what other riders are up to.

WS: Are there wakeskate groupies yet and if so, have you had the chance to take advantage?
SS: Well a lot of the time you will be talking to them and they will be like "So are you a pro wakeboarder?" and Ill be like "nope I Wakeskate" then they will pull the "what's Wakeskating?" and then cruise over to PB.

WS: Well thanks for your time this is where you get to do your part for the sponsors so who's backing you up Steve?
SS: LF, Spy Optics, Globe Shoes, Twc Surf and Sport, Epic Camera cells and Session Boats.

About The Video - by Steve Schoenhals
The vid was put together by my brother Kurt. It is just some free riding I did toward the end of last summer. The footage was just sitting here collecting dust, so we figured you guys at Wakeskating.com would want to see it. All the stuff in the beginning is mostly from my grandparents place up north on Lake Huron. The rest is a few shots by my house in the Detroit Area. And all of the w2w stuff is from a set I took up north at Brian Snabes secret spot.

Watch The Video
  • Steve Schoenhals Video

    About The Photos - by Steve Schenhals
    The Sequences are by Brian Snabes, who did a good job of driving the boat and taking the photos.

    View Photo Gallery
  • Steve Schoenhals Photo Gallery

    I would like to thank Dave at Wakeskating.com for giving me this opportunity, and I would like to thank Steve for his time and his awesomely candid answers (sorry about the double question thing). Most importantly, I'd like to thank the members of the Wakeskating.com community who really made this interview; with their awesome questions. I hope you enjoyed it and until the next time remember to ride for two things: fun and yourself.

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