On the Rise.
Photos: Evgeny Pavlov aka Ponchikz
It was a big luck to met Iina in Ruka Park (Finland) a couple of years ago. I thought her riding was pretty creative and stylish and she was also super friendly, so it was easy to find the common language and start our friendship together. She was good at rails, I'd never seen a girl riding as good as this, so I asked if she was okay to make some photos with me. After that, we were always chatting and then decided to make our first trip together to Russia to shoot street snowboarding in my hometown of Saint-Petersburg. She had never been to Russia before, but luckily we made it and the result was printed on the pages of the Finish snowboard magazine. So both of us were hyped about that and we started talking about a new trip. This time I introduced Iina to Sochi, the city in Russia with the mountains, where the 2014 Winter Olympics took place. It’s a pretty cool climate zone, where you can chill on a beach or even surf if there are proper conditions. Then you can just jump in the car and within 40 minutes driving, you appear in a totally different world with the snow everywhere. I also knew several spots to ride in the village, next to the gondola. It was a really cool plan to go and ride some street and pow as well. Iina has never been riding real pow before, so it was also an interesting challenge for her. We booked tickets, she got the visa, came to Saint-P, and our adventure starts. - Ponchikz
"The main story is that you lost everything and we needed to survive," says my friend Masha when we were discussing our trip to Sochi. But the story begins earlier. I had heard things about Sochi and even already visited Russia once before but for sure it was an exciting feeling to jump on a plane with my snowboarding bag in the hold. After landing in Sochi the first impression was awesome! The place and natural scenery looked really beautiful. The architecture as well, the contrast between new and old makes the place interesting. In Sochi, I had my first backcountry experience and I really loved it. Playing in the mountains was pretty funny too, there was this sign saying "Wild animals" with a picture of a bear in the woods on it. I totally felt as though I was in Russia! After riding, it was always nice to come to our hotel 'The Rider's Lodge' where people hang out with good vibes! We found a mini ramp and some jibbing in the village. When you drive down the mountain there is the Black Sea with dolphins, palm trees and skateparks - I totally fell in love with Sochi! Because of my one way ticket, I had an opportunity to stay longer but one unlucky day I got myself into trouble because I lost my phone and my credit card with it. It got pretty difficult because I hadn't planned a hotel room or ticket home. Transfering money to Russia isn't the easiest thing to do. The story is still happy because of the awesome people I met. There was always a room to be shared and a car to pick up hitchhikers so was able to stay longer and head up to New Star camp. Thanks, Sochi and the snowboarder community - surviving was memorable! Huge thanks also to Rider's Lodge hotel for their hospitality! - Iina