Skate World: Skating in Russia
Russia was the starting point of my Eastern European Extravaganza last June that would end 2,000 kilometers and 5 weeks later in Turkey. Ukraine, Moldova, Romania and Bulgaria were highlights along the way as the word on the street was out: “JZ from Natural Koncept is gonna be creepin’ through…So unleash the treasured spots and the finest gems of the city.”
Moscow has countless marble plazas ideal for skateboarding, the most notable are Victory Park and Lenin Square. These are the two famous spots where everyone meets up, shares a smoke, maybe a couple beers and then cruises off to the designated street spots for the day. I stayed in central Moscow in the Bolshoi Theatre District, which is very close to President Vladimir Putin’s residence—The Red Square.
Gorky Park is like the Central Park of New York. It’s massive and has an awesome PUMA-sponsored cement bowl/clubhouse. Most days there ended at Gorky with hip-hop beats blaring, B-Boys battling, foosball matches getting a bit out of control, a parkour arena for the freestyle acrobats and tons of skaters drinking beer while thrashin’ the snake run ’till late into the night.
This was my second trip to Moscow in 12 months. Between Nasvay Skateboards’ native crew of Yura Renov, Pasha Kryukov, Stas Provotorov, Dimitry Krayuhin and Absurd Skateboards’ marketing director, Kiril Korobkov, I couldn’t feel more at home in this amazing city of 11.5 million people.
Emerica’s Wild in the Streets event brought nearly 1,000 skateboarders to Novivy Arbat Street. Mobs of skaters annihilated the streets from spot to spot ending, of course, at Gorky Park. Russian rubles were given out for the best tricks. Kids were giving it 110% for sure. Yura Renov may be the illest skater in Moscow. His style reminds me of my favorite skateboarder of all time – Heath Kirchart. He takes the gnarliest falls and then gets right up, shakes it off and lands the trick perfectly on the next try. Yura has incredible talent with an amazing ability to ignore fear.
One night at Club Solyanka, which is like Moscow’s version of The Electric Room, Marc Arnold, performed his famed track “Tainted Love” to celebrate the club’s 10-year anniversary. Apparently the ’80s American punk rocker resides in Moscow now and he crushed it on stage. Everyone was dancing like crazy. It was madness!
The Moscow Metro is built so deep into the ground your ears literally pop— it’s 100 meters deep at times. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before. And like nothing I’ve ever done before in my adult life, I pissed my pants one late night on this incredibly long 5-minute escalator ride to the street level. Literally there was urine running down the inside of my pants and splashing onto the extremely clean moving stairway.
Kievskaya Station is where I said my goodbyes to the Nasvay crew.
The capital city of Ukraine was just an overnight train away and the word had already hit Kiev that “JZ was rollin’ thru. Take him to the magical skate spots and watch out: This guy pees his pants.”
Photography by Krayuhin