David Benedek Versus TWS Readers

The German freestyle heavyweight takes on questions from snowboarding’s toughest customers—you.

We’re busy enough around here what with foosball tournaments and updating our Friendster profiles, so when David Benedek said he’d rather answer questions from our readers instead of fielding an intensive, well-researched interview from one of the TWS staff—we were all for it. Read on as David talks about everything from drugs and politics to his recent breakup with Annie Boulanger. Oh, and don’t feel bad if you sent in a question that he didn’t answer—pro snowboarders really are busy.

How long have you been snowboarding, and when did you become serious about the freestyle scene?—Michael Curtis

I’ve been riding for quite a while. I started in ’89 at the age of nine, which makes this season my fourteenth year shredding—that really makes me feel old. There wasn’t a certain point when I got more serious about it—I think it was a pretty constant development from local contests all the way to where I am now. On the other hand, I always dreamed about going pro from my very first season snowboarding, so I guess I became serious about it right away, if that’s possible.

Do you drink a lot or smoke marijuana?—Ben Bortner

I do drink once in a while, but I think smoking weed is pretty lame. I’m not saying alcohol is much better than weed for your health, but I’ve just seen a lot of people who had great potential loose focus and motivation because they smoked a lot. A newly released study from the U.S. says that seven percent of marijuana consumers encounter psychotic disorders—I think that’s a pretty crazy amount. I’m sure 93 percent of the readers right now are thinking, “That’s bullshit!”

All I’m saying is that you should keep it in perspective, but if someone smokes a doobie when he gets up in the morning, then he has a problem in my opinion. I mean, who gets up and drinks vodka? Besides the Finnish, of course.


I live in Hamilton, Ontario, and there aren’t many places to go snowboarding—pretty much just Blue Mountain, and I live in the terrain park there. Were you in the same situation as a kid, or did you have the opportunity to go to many places?—Chad Rosart

When I started riding, there weren’t any parks in Europe at all—there’re hardly any good ones now. But living only an hour away from Austria gave me access to pretty amazing mountains, so I grew up freeriding way more than jumping. The only times we rode parks or pipes were at contests.

I think it helped me a bunch that I was first able to control my snowboard well before trying to launch off bigger jumps. I feel like a lot of kids these days forget the actual riding part, although it’s ten times easier to learn a new trick when you don’t have to worry about the riding and can concentrate only on the actual spin or whatever. So go shred around as much as you can, and maybe try to improve your board control and carving skills—you don’t even need good terrain for that. Have fun.

First off, your part in Afterbang was off the heezle. Were you bitter about not getting the four nines in Afterbang, and did you make sure you got ’em all in Lame? Oh yeah, and did Annie {Boulanger} dump you, or was it vice versa?—Unknown

Yeah, I was pretty bummed when I realized that we forgot to put that frontside 900 in my part last year. Really bummed, actually, not necessarily about not having the four nines in one part—because that was never the plan, really—but about simply forgetting one of my best shots of the season. Now it’s all good, ’cause I put it in my new part for Lame.

Oh, and my private life really isn’t that exciting—but if you want to know, Annie and I split on mutual terms, and we’re still good friends.


What are some of your plans for after your snowboarding days are done? Will you work in the indusstry, or just get away from it all?—Dennis Foster

I am actually not quite sure what I want to do after shredding. It’s such a good lifestyle that I’m sort of scared to answer that question. I’m really into architecture or pretty much any sort of design, so maybe I’ll start from scratch and go to college for one of these things … who knows?

If you were locked in a room for 24 hours with any three people—alive, dead, figments of your imagination—who would they be?—Greg

I think I would put Dick Cheney, Ariel Sharon, and Yasser Arafat in the same room for a day—that’d be pretty interesting.

Maybe those idiots would figure some shit out for once. On the other hand, I’d probably forget about my world-saving ambitions when I realized I could spend 24 hours with three Natalie Portmans.

Hi, David, I remember seeing an article where you talked about reading No Logo by Naomi Klein. You recognized the irony that as a pro athlete you had to sell yourself to be successful, and you enjoyed reading the book because it provided a better understanding of your situation. How do feel about co-opting the purpose of the book? Just as Adbusters was furious about ad agencies copying their style, do you feel any remorse for using the book in opposition of its original end, which was to confront the overaggressive forces of the market economy?—Jean-Yves Terreault

Hi Jean-Yves,

When I said the book helped me to understand my own situation better, I didn’t mean it helped me create a better way to market myself—that really would’ve been using the book to an opposing end. Reading about the difficulties of marketing and image creation and all the problems that come with it simply made me more aware of the responsibilities we have, either as a consumer or as a part of the marketing machinery.

In my case as a pro snowboarder, I started worrying about what sort of factory my pro-model boots were going to be made in, for example, or what consequences certain marketing decisions have. So you see, maybe my intentions weren’t all that bad. In my opinion, one of the biggest sins of marketing is to purposely steer people away from their own visions and replace them with the company’s idea of what makes you happy—which is most likely some shitty product. I urge everyone to read about that kind of stuff, since it’s our generation that’s most targeted, and ours—if any—that can change things.