Snowboarders in Ukraine and Russia Speak Out About The Invasion

In the age of social media, the world really shrinks for those with smartphones and access to the internet. Are we exposed to too much? Not enough? Is our interconnectedness around the globe a good or bad thing? Does it bring us closer together or make us feel empty? Who knows. That is for the historians later down the line to decide. They will have plenty to sift through. We can see what people around the world post and in turn, they can see what we post the moment it goes live. For 99% of the time, as a magazine we use this to keep tabs on snowboarding online. Alongside riding and talking to the riders, we too, just like the rest of you, watch social media to see what the hell is going on in our culture. But the internet is much more than snowboarding (and vice versa). That obviously doesn’t need to be stated, but this is for the “stick to snowboarding” crowd. Global events strike, and we all see it. Like it or not, snowboarders are everywhere and it is all intertwined. We aren’t here to inject our uninformed opinions on global politics, we are just acknowledging fellow snowboarders that are in the world, experiencing things beyond our imagination, and sharing it with you. 

After reports of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we thought back to the Double Triple Rail Jam held in Kyiv just a little over two months ago. Besides that being an absolutely insane set up, it was easy to see there is a strong snowboard scene there. We reached out to a few riders (Russian and Ukrainian) to see if they would like to share what their experience is currently in both countries. 

“My name is Nastya aka Rusalka. I’m an action photographer from Kyiv and yesterday woke up at 6am from a call my friend. “The war already have started. How is the situation on your district?” During the first few hours, I couldn’t accept this fact, that this isn’t a fucking surrealism it [is] reality…how, in general, every civilians in Ukraine. Russian started to attack at 5am in cities on the borders. Strategic military bases and infrastructure were bombed and then here we go…

Of course I’m worried, especially for my family in other city and close friends. But first of all, I tried not to panic, keep my mind in cold and filter all incoming news about the military situation. And sure to believe in our heroes of Ukrainian army.

Since uncontrolled anxiety is a worst enemy of each of us. Time by time, I was distracting on my working projects, books and thoughts about “how cool it would be snowboarding in Gudauri, because my friends and I had tickets on 26 February” …but Putin screwed up all the plans at the wrong time with his senile plans. But I am more then sure, that our next attempt to fly there will be actually symbolic!”

In the morning I managed to run into the stores and buy all necessary stuff products before “kilometer-long” queue: water, bread, cheese, pasta, canned food, some vegetables, various cereals, sweets of course, matches, and holy toilet paper. 

Close to 4pm I met with my two friends and we decided to spent this night in subway closely to our home, because Ukrainian government transmitted information that a new attack from the country/aggressor could begin at night in Kyiv. At the same time, I want to say a biggest thanks to the Ukrainian military, who take care of our rules and freedoms 24/7. These are the strongest people!

And well, now 4:58am by Kyiv’s time and I [am] hanging out under a few meters of one of the main roads of the capital with children, cats and one cute corgis :).  At the end, this is an interesting company and definitely a non-trivial experience.

About my future steps say hard… From one important side: I love my country, where are all my family, I grew up and surrounded by wonderful, talented and strong-wiled close people. From the other side, the most disturbing thing right now is uncertainty of development of military actions anytime, anywhere. I’m considering the possible plan to leave on the western part of Ukraine–it’s possible to cross the boarder there, but everything will depend on the situation, and when I will sleep at least a couple of hours.

It was nice to get an incredible number of a message from foreign friends with support and a proposal for help. Guys, such involvement in the situation, and in general, is something incredible. It warms the soul and once again we realize that the world of “like-minded” people is very small. Much love and big hug to all! If you have read to the end of my tirade, this is already a victory, ahah. My main message to everyone will be short: Be open to the world, don’t forget about critical thinking, recognize your foothold, and of course, love mom 🙌🏽🖤. Peace for everyone.” – Rusalka, Kyiv

“It is ‘ok’ but this morning was not like usual. All the resorts are closed and we can’t go back home. We are seething here and waiting for news, but the way is closed. All the guys talking to stay in the mountains. We have been working here for two months and should work for one more month.” – Stefan Uskov, Shaper, Bukovel

“Luckily I’m in western part now at ski resort. It’s closed but we decided to stay here and wait for further information. My family and friends are in Kyiv now and it’s been air attacks by Russians right now. We need international support right now. Our army is very motivated and doing great job, but I think only unity by all countries can stop this madness.” Andrii Sydorenko, Bukovel

“I’d want extreme sports related people around the world to know that our country is ruled by a group of criminals who are not supported by the most of the citizens. Elections here are manmade, people’s will is ignored and damaged by under-controlled courts, brutal police force, tracking disloyal people through the web and throwing them to jail for reposts on VK (Russian version of FB) and likes under social media articles and more different ‘1984’-like stuff. I have friends in Ukraine and we have no reason to fight, just like everybody from my circle, it’s not just my point of view. I don’t know a single person supporting that what’s happening rn on the neighbor land. We all hope it stops soon. It’s destroying our both countries’ today and future. I’d want the world to treat our government like they deserve, but not the nation.” – Russian Snowboarder (asked to remain anonymous).

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