An RIT advertising and public relations student is ranked 15th in the world for downhill longboarding.
Max Wippermann hopes to improve that ranking this year, beginning with a race in British Columbia two days after he finishes his first year at RIT.
The rankings are determined by a points system that is monitored by the International Downhill Federation, the sanctioning body of the World Cup. According to Colin Beck, who manages the rankings for the organization, 899 riders were ranked in 2013 based on their five best performances.
Wippermann grew up riding skateboards, getting his first board when he was only 4 years old. He entered his first downhill competition in British Columbia when he was 15 years old and picked up a second place win in the junior category.
In 2011, he became the junior world champion after winning a race at the Maryhill Festival of Speed in Seattle. The win was a full circle moment for Wippermann, who had watched his idol, Scott Smith, ride in the festival shortly after Wippermann moved to Seattle in 2008.
“Three years after watching that race I raced Maryhill for the first time and won the junior championship on that same board,” said Wippermann about Smith’s board. “Maryhill is a special place for me in that regard.”
But it wasn’t until after his junior world championship win that he become serious about longboarding as a profession.
“I realized I wanted to push this until my body can’t handle it anymore,” Wippermann said. “So until then I’m just full board going for it.”
Following high school graduation, Wippermann decided to take a year off before starting college to travel with the longboarding World Cup Circuit.
He competed in three downhill cup races in North America and two in Europe. Wippermann’s results gave him the score necessary to secure his spot at 15th in the world when the final rankings for the season were posted.
“I had set out the season with a goal of top 10,” Wippermann said. “I had been following my results all season so I knew what my ranking was going to be before it was published.”
When fall rolled around, and after a five-week stay in Europe, it was time for Wippermann to comply with his parents’ request to enroll in school. He picked advertising and public relations as his major so he could learn how to market and sell himself as an athlete and gain sponsorships.
He said the diversity of classes offered at RIT allows him to collaborate with students from other majors.
“I really like custom gear on my boards,” Wippermann said. “As a communications major, I can come up with an idea for my board, get together with an engineering student to build it and work with a film major to make a sweet commercial for it.”
In between cup races and homework, Wippermann longboards on campus. When the weather is nice, he typically skates more than 20 hours a week, practicing slides and other maneuvers with fellow RIT longboarders.
“I’ll be traveling all over the West Coast, Europe and South America chasing another World Championship Ranking for 2014,” Wippermann said. “I hope this can be what my life is for years to come.”