[Above: (Desktop) Slices of DBK’s cameo in GLUE. Watch GLUE here – it’s awesome. (Mobile) Chillin. Photo: Cyril Mueller]
David Bertschinger-Karg – or DBK as he’s often known – has never been what you might consider a stereotypical snowboard pro. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that he was a bit of a late bloomer in terms of being showered with free product, travel budget and filmers training their lenses on him, but from the get go it always seemed he got the ‘professional’ part of ‘professional snowboarder’ as much as the ‘snowboarder’ part, and when he got his opportunity you sensed he wasn’t going to let it go by taking it for granted.
DBK got his break when a chance meeting led to him being drafted into the Isenseven crew, and he grabbed the it with both hands to quickly become an integral member of the iconic European film production’s later years. When Isenseven called time he had a standout part in True Color Films’ release, before tackling things on his own terms and producing last winter’s acclaimed projectDETOUR series.
Not only this, DBK has a cultured eye for the aesthetic, be it in his snowboarding or – more recently – in his work behind the lens. Partly due to his natural desire to immerse himself in things beyond a snowboarder’s regular cliché of powder, parties and girls, and partly due to the people he’s worked with encouraging him, an interest in filmmaking was sparked and he’s no doubt found success in this field too.
If that all sounds a bit too fawning, he’s also the kind of man who’ll miss a flight to get a tattoo, and went to a Rhianna concert last summer. True story.
– Interview: Sam Oetiker –
Let’s start with the basics. For the people that don’t know you, how did you get into snowboarding?
I started riding in Stoos – a super small resort in the middle of Switzerland. I always went on ski vacation there with my parents and my sisters. I sucked at skiing but then I tried snowboarding – I also sucked at it at the beginning, but I didn’t complain about it, kept riding, enjoyed it more and got better – and so we kept on being a winter sports family. My sisters snowboard, my parents snowboard now. Everyone. Then I grew up with the NBC crew – a crew from Hoch Ybrig, my home mountain – met Howzee [photographer Dominic Zimmermann] and when he had his “hype” he just took me with him, and that’s how I got my first photos. I had some contest stuff happening, not too much but I did some and did not too bad at them, and that’s how I got my sponsors. Just some magazine coverage, some contests.
How long ago was that?
[Thinks] I was… 17 maybe. I was pretty late. Maybe 16 was my first sponsor, like I was a shop rider super early but stayed a shop rider for ever. Then I think my first real sponsor was Bataleon Snowboards. I’m the rider riding the longest for Bataleon, now Gulli [Gudmundsson] kind of stopped. I remember my first Bataleon shoot was in Avoriaz, I was there, an 18-year-old kid, first time going somewhere for a shoot with Bataleon, and I remember how I admired all the riders and of course Julien [‘Larrogs’ Haricot]. It’s kind of funny to look back now when I meet the team and Dennis and Danny, I’m like the guy who’s been on Bataleon for ever, you know?
As a Swiss kid growing up at the time you did, there were some sick guys making names for themselves from your homeland, like Nicolas Müller. Did their riding influence you?
They definitely influenced me a lot, though I got into the whole ‘sponsors, media’ and all that quite late. I didn’t watch all the movies when I was super young because we didn’t have a TV, but whenever I looked at mags and stuff, Nico was always one of my big heroes. Gigi [Rüf] also, but I was always a big Nico fan. I met him back in the days but I never really knew him, it was just for me he was like a superstar. They were my fucking idols, I went to Freestyle.CH, I was so into snowboarding, and now I hang out with them, go skating in Zurich with Nico. That’s pretty cool.