Mountainboarding in Russia: We Keep on Riding Till the End
- 29 февраля 2004
How to be in a sport and still don’t be recognized inside the board community? Difficult, but funny. It seems that someone upstairs don’t want to give us the easy way. But as we get the harder we have less competition. Winter came to Russia but in the European part there’s still not enough snow to ride our snow-surfers. In Siberia and Ural people already enjoy the fresh winter snow and placed their summer all terrain monsters into hibernation until spring comes.
Talking about mountain boarding in Russia is not so easy. First of all Russia is large, and through the Ural Mountains the information comes very complicated and slowly. The exact thing is that mountain boarding has taken roots here. As the famous Russian author Gogol wrote, that there are two troubles in Russia, roads and fools. About the second I was always sure, you can watch the politicians on TV, the best proof. About the first I’ve considered myself not to take that as a trouble. Why? Cause it became my element and not only mine.
The new opportunity for self-expression and self-development has strongly struck the board-aimed brains of Russian contemporary youth.
What are the changes and news from Russia, you’ll ask. Well, a lot and not too much at the same time. Taking into account that the general mass of people who ride is concentrated in Moscow, city where it is hard to find a real place to ride. And if you don’t have enough money and connections, the development of the sport slows down. But there are some advantages. Main publishing houses and television studios are situated in the city. People there are always looking for some fresh material and often we discover common ground. As we are at the beginning, it’s not so bad. But surely it is better to make all those video shots somewhere in the south of Russia where views and natural terrain are convenient for shooting and riding.
Southeast from Moscow, app. 400 km there is another city called Samara. Having pretty mountain area, there is a Snowboard Park, which operates in summer for ATB riding. In the local surf shop they sell mountainboards as well. About 10 riders represent this region.
Anapa town, which is situated on the shore of the Black Sea, has ample opportunities for beach mountain-boarding and kiteboarding. Along with the beginning of the Caucasian mountain ridge, slopes are ideal for fun riding. Grass is growing low enough, paths and gravel are ready to carry you hundreds of meters down. By the way, while testing my hybrid with Kheo deck and MBS bindings, straps and wheels, I reached speeds of 70 km/h. Pretty scary, even with green egg-shocks. I don’t advise to do that, only if you’re 100% sure, that there is enough space to brake. After 5 minutes riding I was totally mad, like freestyling for the whole day.
There was some mountainboard testing in the northern city called St-Petersburg, but history keeps quiet about it, only some photos in the Internet. Some guys from Magnitogorsk and Ural region already have 2-3 year experience of kiteboarding and we hope to visit them next season. We have met a lot of guys at the winter kite sailing and windsurfing championship, which took place these November in Tumen, a Siberian city. I don’t understand how we have not been to Ukraine yet, where as I understand plenty people riding ATB’s. We do not communicate with them unfortunately. Czech Republic is not another world either; we do want to attend some event organized there, next season I hope. Honza maximum punk style respect from Russia!
Generally the question turns on the sponsorship. Not all of us can pay for travel, and it’s difficult with having education and work obligations. Last year I left my job and only do traveling to ride and promote the sport as much as I can. My Friend Myasnoy the rider of A-Snowboards and Flexifoil kites has as well Loco freeboard, so we often do journeys together, don’t forget he has everything for kiting! The building of parks is essential but without sponsors it is impossible. After every rain there is a necessity to restore the paths and angles. The representatives of different snow-parks in the suburbs of Moscow are interested only in rich high-pay workers. They build expensive Hotels, Saunas, Aqua arks, Pools. Slopes in summer are partly used for mountainbiking. We do our best in finding places to ride, it could be different paths or just a grassy hill, but the security people always have a power to forbid us to ride. Luckily it doesn’t happen very often.
Frankly speaking I like to ride somewhere far away from the city. People there take you as a wild thing, amazed by the novelty and the mountainboard appearance. In general you do not need any permission to ride, but sometimes you talk to frontier guards or hunters. But not a lot of people can afford such trips; we call people, who travel with minimum cash in the pocket, Kislota (Acid). Guys, who can find the way to survive anywhere.
For people who are stuck in Moscow the season passed in another way. About 20 riders, plus or minus, met every Saturday at the railway station, where after 1-2 hours when everybody was ready after Friday night we traveled to park Volen, 60 km from Moscow. Most photo and video sessions were made there. At the end of the mountainbike course there was a 2 m high jump with a 12 m transfer. One of our riders (Durdom aka Madman) did a huge fs bs 360, with absolutely crazy amplitude that even cross bikers couldn’t repeat. At the same time the beginners could ride on a 400 m to 800 m asphalt course built for the training of our Olympic team. No one knows what kind of team this should be. I did some punk racings down with 1.0 atmospheres in wheels on the 30 degree grassy slope. Controllable speed I should mention.
There are plenty people in this park but only some reach the mountain. In general they stay in the pool or near, rather going to the sauna or massage or SPA. Putting an eye on the relaxing procedures after a working week. I saw very little people who come here doing mountainbiking or rolling. You can find many parks in Moscow to ride the bike, but not hilly enough for the mountainboard. Volen in winter is totally different; all Moscow snowboard and ski community comes here for the weekends. Many lifts, houses for rest and staying, and all the above stuff are at your service. And in summer we attack the park, local slopes and fields like termites! Riding and kiting every free centimeter!
Despite the malicious views from the other extreme communities, mountainboard develops. Of course with our assistance and help from different people. Thanks for the TV shootings and sport magazines sparing space for our materials. The amount of riders grows, not of course with the same tempo as mushrooms after the rain, but it grows. We have some taboo when some cool guy makes a speech on the federal channel and tells that something is absolutely fantastic and great, which is really for middle minded citizens. I hope you understand what I am talking about. Sport fashion… All that sucks.
We need some more time and energy; work with media and riding arc the only way to promote the mountainboard and to build our own track. It is funny but I saw even special tracks for the winter sliding on the inflatable splints, I don’t now the exact name of that activity unfortunately. I hope this year we will make the park for the special ATBmag event here, in Moscow. I should mention as well our participation in the winter annual exhibition Ski Saloon where everybody could test all MBS decks from Grom 6 to Blade. It was fun to watch adults jumping on the Cricket. Poor board. I did some jumps on the fake mountainside for the ski demonstration but decided to survive and to take the opportunity to watch girl ski ballet that was very exciting, you know…
Nature, forests, grassy hills, fresh air, if not rocky neither urban views, pleasing eyes and heart. Forgotten winter battles near the lifts… I am happy to be born and to ride ATB. Believe, all good riders go to the paradise, I mean becoming gray-haired and going to Hawaii for windsurfing and tai-massages! So what we choose?