Have you ever heard about the Republic of Karelia? No. Well it’s right next to Finland and has nearly half the size of Germany. Still no? Well, to be honest, we neither. Especially not in a skateboard context. But Kiril Korobkov brought the Vans Russia team there, to enjoy the spots – and the cloudberries.
Karelia is such a nice-sounding name. At least I find it this way. The combination of letters and sounds in this word seems to be pleasant for ears. This was one of the reasons why Karelia won over other options where to go with Vans Russia. Another big reason why we ended up in Karelia was one of our younger boys Eugene Nikolaev who was born and raised there. It’s always exciting to explore where one of your riders is from and listen to all those small stories about the first spot, early video parts and first flip tricks. Also, there is only a very limited period of time every year when you can enjoy the short northern summer. We took this chance and put another pin on Vans Russia’s skate map.
Karelia is the name of the land at the north-western edge of Russia. Most of the time it was part Russia but indigenous people are very close to Finns. When Russian people think of Karelia, we think about endless lakes, woods, swamps, cranberry, cloudberry (have you ever heard of cloudberry?) and fishing parties. When Russian skaters think of Karelia they don’t really know what to expect. It’s not a common direction for a skate tour. One exception was Dutchman Sebastiaan Vijverberg. It was such a random fact that he had already skated Karelia before. Let’s keep it for the secret part of the encyclopedia of international skateboarding.
The biggest city of Karelia is Petrozavodsk. This was where we had our residence for one week. When I watch our footage I like that in many shots the Karelian capital has a European look. The architecture out there looks more European than in most of Russian cities. This part of Russia neighbors Scandinavia and it was interesting to look for similarities and mutual influences. Some clips look like we could be somewhere in Northern Europe. But European doesn’t mean it was all smooth. Actually it was the opposite. Long and harsh winters made the local urban environment a tough zone for skateboarding. The boys and girls have been trying to make friends with cracks and holes on run-ups and landings for the whole stay.
We had a wild crew. By saying wild I mean the amount of people. We managed to take more than 20 people on tour. All the major players got mixed with flow riders, girls and legends. Normally we call it skate tour, but this time it was more like skate invasion when we showed up at the spots. It was very good for the team spirit and skateboarding proved itself again as the most universal language between different generations. I am pleased we managed to get together such a solid local team in Russia and I am very happy to be their captain.
Why do we travel? We travel to see new cities, to discover places we’ve never experienced before, to learn new things, to meet new people, to try new food, to go through adventures and to live life. During that week in Karelia we did it all. On the top of all we got enough clips to come up with a new tour video. Eugene Nikolaev showed us his homeland and we are excited to show it to the rest of the world. And yeah, cloudberry jam is delicious. You better believe us.