Martin Winkler is a freerider and likes to push the boundaries of the laws of physics – he has been loving the waves and snow slopes since he was a child and, as a qualified ski guide, he knows the mountains around Warth and Schröcken inside out. The 40-year-old surfer is even able to persuade Lake Constance to give up a few spectacular images and experiences.
As a famous freerider, he has travelled the world, won many prizes and raced down steep slopes at breakneck speeds for films. He knows the mountains from Alaska to Chile, from Scandinavia to Spain and back to Vorarlberg – for years, he lived mainly in hotel rooms and out of suitcases. But he always felt that at some point he’d return to Lake Constance.
Martin Winkler, who’s a native of Bregenz, has been living with his small family in Lochau, three minutes’ walk from the lake shore, since 2012. “Much revolves around the lake these days … I’m really happy living here in Bregenz,” says the passionate surfer. In summer, it’s almost every day that he crosses the road carrying his stand-up paddle or surfboard to start the day on the water. And when it’s been a good day, he’s able to end it there too. The powdered state of water in the mountains is his first passion, his second are waves – the ones he can find on Lake Constance but particularly the ones thrown up by wild coastal seas. So much so that he borrowed a small bus to drive to the Atlantic coast to learn how to surf, when he was still only 18 years of age. He became acquainted with the hard side of the water surface in the Bay of Biscay near San Sebastian – and he simply didn’t give up.
“It’s probably one of the most difficult sports to learn. I had no idea when I was starting out how much had to come together before you could surf a wave. But I was infected with the surfing bug from the outset in spite of the frustration,” he says with a smile. “The waves on Lake Constance are high enough perhaps two or three times a year and then you have to get out straight away…” But that’s something he can’t do very often because the freerider in front of the camera has turned into a producer behind it at ZERO DIVISION. ZERO DIVISION is a company that makes advertising films that stand out from the run of the mill and so quickly started working for really big clients all over the world. He founded the company with Wolfgang Berlinger and Markus Holzer in 2005, initially with the aim of producing cool sports films, but meanwhile the business makes professional productions for international corporations – and it can be proud of its remarkable reverence list of clients and projects. Although he’s gradually leaving his active time as a freerider behind, he still regularly travels around the world: “Last year, we spent a month in New Zealand filming for a major client. And I’m part of the production on the Freeride World Tour where I provide commentary for the live broadcasts at the tournaments in Japan, Canada, Andorra, Austria and Switzerland. We’ve converted a multi-van that we use as our home so that we can still follow the waves.” His wife and little daughter accompany hin on his trips whenever possible.
He’s pursuing a project that is pushing the boundaries of the laws of physics even further at the moment because he just can’t help himself – there’s a piece of film that shows him gliding through the deep snow on his surfboard. Without a binding – as if the mountain slope were the trough of a wave in the Atlantic and the snow a burst of salty spray. It’s crazy but it seems to work. The man in the film is gliding gently down the slopes and the board is obeying him as if it had been invented solely for this purpose. He says at the same time, “I’m not as wild as I used to be because I hardly practice anymore and you lose your edge quickly. You have to be in top shape to be a professional freerider. The nice thing about it is that you can still do it, you just have to be able to properly gauge your own strength, be familiar with the circumstances and know the condition on the particular day. I don’t really take any risks –safety is important to me.”
And because it’s also more interesting to push the boundaries of the laws of physics on Lake Constance, he loves surfing behind a motorboat – without a rope, which means that he cleverly positions himself in the stern wave and then lets himself be pushed forward on that. Freeriding on the water, then. And why not?