Russia: I’ve always wanted to go there! And here I am, landing in Sochi, designated host of the 2014 Olympic games. The small airport stands by the black sea and I’m quite surprised to see palm trees through the plane window. We made our way through the taxi driver scrum, chose one of them by the size of his car and drove up towards Krasnaya Polyana. It s a 45-minute drive. This place looks like a remote and small European resort, but 40 years ago.
Oakley is always a fun crew! Grete Eliassen, Gretchen Bleiler, Angeline (who missed her flight), Marie-France Roy (who had some visa issues and will arrive a couple of days later), and I.
The lift is sketchy!! You sit on a red metal 2-seater chairlift while the chairlift guy holds it by handcraft for 1 second, with your board on your knees as well as your backpack, gloves, ipod etc.. You are hanging about 40-60m off the ground and the lift makes weird noises, or stops and runs the wrong direction for 10 seconds. The way out is even sketchier! Same thing, the guy grabs the chair and you have 1 second to jump off and run with your gear in your hands.
Everywhere nearby the chairlift you can find some tough Russian body guards. They looked scary but Gretchen got them to be our friends by getting them into our photo albums! So every day they looked mean and tough but when we showed up, they gave us their biggest smiles, with hardly any teeth appearing or maybe a couple of golden ones!
Never mind, it’s sunny and the snow looks epic but it’s really warm… and yep it has been really warm and sunny a full day already, you should have been there YESTERDAY!
It looked like fun hot pow but my board got glued so hard to the ground that I couldn’t even turn or keep my nose up! That snow was pretty much the worst you can get! No way to work it… and worst was to come – it rained for a week.
And still we went up and got a couple of jibs done. There was no water in the house (no showers) but all was good cause the girls were sooo fun to hang out with!
While the skiers were building a wall ride, Gretchen and I took the lift to the top. Super sketchy avalanches went down on the whole mountain! Wet, heavy, huge avalanches all over the place but the top stayed good cause it was just cold enough to keep it together. That night we decided to drink it blue which is an easy thing to do in Russia. Anna showed Gretchen and I a couple of breakdance moves, I painted on Shin’s face while Marie-France was holding him and thanks to Grete who puked that night cause it worked and got sunny the next day!
It had snowed and blown quite a bit on the very top and that was our chance to make it happen. We hiked 2 bowls behind the top chairlift and found a couple lines, slashes and cliffs. The snow was super fun in the shady spots and I was stoked to finally get to ride! And to slash pow YEAH!! The last run down was sooo fun!! And then we had to traverse for about an hour and hike another hour to get back to the slopes. It was close to dark, all lifts were closed and there were both of Grete’s fans!! Waiting for her to appear out of the woods. What a good day!! It s funny how one good day makes it up for ten bad ones.
That was our last night in the mountains and we all went to the Russian Sauna to get naked and beaten with branches by a Russian type of Tarzan!! The best thing ever!
We left to Moscow the next day and that was super fun too! The Red Square was on my to see list.. pretty mind blowing! Thanks to Oakley, Shin, Anna and Marie for making this trip a trip to remember!
Check my podcast for a ride on a chairlift with Gretchen and I..