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Interview: Martin Siegrist talks about TSG’s new fullface helmet

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Martin Siegrist is one of the most influential downhill skaters of the last decade. In 2004, 2006, and 2007 he won the world championships, and has always been a force to be reckoned with on the race course. Being an industrial designer as well, he’s always brought an level of insight into the dynamics of skate equipment that goes above and beyond. When we found out he was working on a new project with TSG, we figured it was a good time to catch up. –Ed.

Dan Pape: Why don’t you introduce yourself?

Martin Siegrist: I’m Martin Siegrist and in 2011 I’ve retired after 10 years of racing downhill skateboard to concentrate on product design. I’m currently working part time with Airflow Skateboards which leaves enough room for personal projects and experiments. I am still skating as much as I can. Zürich has some great city runs and a new bowl. Still stoked on spinning wheels!

What is TSG?

TSG has been making skateboard helmets for 25 years. It started with Titus, a skate legend from Germany. It is now owned by two Swiss guys and their base is in Zürich. I’m stoked to be working with a local company!

How long have you been working with/for them?

I presented my bachelors diploma helmet at TSG in 2009. Back then they didn’t want to make the helmet but in the meantime longboarding got so much bigger and demand for a fullface helmet increased. Last summer (2012), they contacted me and we got back to working on the project. I couldn’t believe it….

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What is your education/background?

I did an apprenticeship as survey draftsman. Studied geoinformatics for two years but then switched to industrial design. My grandfather had a carpentry and my dad is a master carpenter. I’ve learnt how to work with wood as a kid. I’ve always enjoyed making things and creating something with my own hands. I also love to touch things, laugh at me, that’s cool!

You hinted at something innovative a little while ago when we chatted last, is this the magic sauce?

This is it, yeah!

Martin Siegrist speed gun & helmet

An older helmet project and Siegrist’s personal race board

What makes this helmet different? What’s the innovation?

I wouldn’t call it an innovation. But I’d say it’s a fresh design and we started designing a helmet from scratch. I’m not a big fan of how oh so many companies get their products designed these days. Of course everything needs to be cheap and there might not be enough money to create new forms and designs. The field of view is very big and the nose/chin bar is definitely stronger than what you see on most other helmets.

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Wind tunnel testing of an older helmet project

When are you anticipating the first helmets to make it to the top of those runs?

Coming soon! Whatever that means. TSG is definitely motivated to get the helmets done asap. We want to make sure it’s perfect so please be patient!

How much? What colors?

I cannot give any information about that yet. Don’t know…

You’re talking certified, what European certification this helmet will have?

This helmet will get the EN 1078 certification which is the standard for all bicycle and skateboard helmets. TSG does not sell any non-certified helmets so you really don’t need to worry about that.

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Who else is on the team?

There isn’t a downhill team yet.

Did you guys test the aerodynamics in a wind tunnel?

No we didn’t do that yet. I’ve been in a wind tunnel a couple years ago to test different helmets and tucks. I think it’s quite difficult to test a helmet and say that one is better than the other helmet. Something tells me the sharp edge on the back of the helmet might improve the aerodynamics but of course I’d like to prove that effect with numbers! Maybe we can do a test this year and compare a couple helmets.

What’s up with that visor Martin? From the pic it looks metallic or not usable for riding? It also looks niiiiice.

That is a 3D printed visor. The manufacturer painted it silver. It’s not see through. It is part of prototyping, we had it made to check the shape.

All those years with that other helmet, your white cross is actually iconic to me. “The one to beat”…..was that helmet a TSG helmet?

The Swiss cross…. That was a Beat Engel helmet developed for SCOTT some time ago. An awesome helmet. It was handmade in Switzerland and never certified. Production in Switzerland was too expensive and Beat Engel always made more money on dive helmets which was part of the reason why that helmet was so expensive and never really made it!

I know you’re a very passionate guy when it comes to your gear. I’m guessing this passion comes into consideration when you guys choose the TSG downhill team?

I guess I have a unique combination of experience as both product designer and downhill skateboarder which was key to team up with TSG. We have not talked about a team so far.

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A previous speedsuit project that Martin was working on.

Are you coming to Canada or USA this year?

I don’t have anything set up yet. I really want to go to Norway for the freeride on that crazy hairpin road.

Do you think as the money and sponsors get bigger for these killer events, people will still be giving props at the bottom of the heat? With bigger purses that are sure to come, will people still be saying “it’s all good” when controversial passes are made? I’m on the fence about the unwritten rules of racing.

Racing is for sure more aggressive compared to a few years back and money definitely changes everything. People might say “it’s all good” ’cause that’s what everyone wants to hear and everyone likes you when you always say nice things about everything…. I’m for direct and honest communication and I don’t hesitate telling the truth.

Do you see yourself getting into more freeriding? Fairly recently you posted a video with Ramon & Ross. Looked fun!

Seeing all those videos of longboarders doing 180s and riding backwards I thought that can’t be so difficult. I rode fakie on snowboards many years ago. I’m not that confident riding switch on a longboard and I’m still learning but it’s a new challenge and after that much speeding in my career as a racer, I was up for something new to learn. I’m not a trick guy but it’s fun to experience different perspectives of skateboarding. Drifting might not be the fastest approach to all corners but it’s definitely fun and that’s my main drive right now. Having fun spinning wheels!

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Before we check out here, any words of thought about the progression of competitive racing?

From what I’ve heard about racing last year, I do not see any progression in racing. They’re still dealing with the same problems. Of course riders develop their skills and all that and there might be more people attending races but apart from that I really don’t see anything pushing forward.

And I gotta ask, how’s the whole IGSA & IDF thing settling with you.

I don’t bother about that much. Never say never but I’m not interested in racing anymore. I’ve achieved more than I ever wanted and I have so many awesome memories. Whatever happens with the association thing, I hope people make it happen for the better and I wish to see progress in racing. People should be scared and afraid of a race course. It has to be more of a challenge in my opinion. Steeper, faster, more tech riding. More hills like Kozakov, Mt. Stuart in OZ or Snake Skeleton in South America. Insane roads!

Last words?

I’m really excited for the remaining development and release of the TSG helmet. BTW, it will be named «PASS»

Thanks for sharing the project on Skate[Slate] and I hope I’ll get the photo issue soon.

 

check out the websites:

http://www.ridetsg.com/

http://mrtn.ch/

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