Windsurfing has long been established and enjoyed worldwide, but not everyone has easy access to water. RT went to take a look how Russian adrenaline junkies have found an alternative.
Windsurfing is synonymous with the ocean, the beach and the sun as thousands take to the waves every summer.
But it’s a completely different prospect when you swap the water for snow, which is how many Russians make up for a lack of nearby sea and lakes.
“Everything of course started on water and somehow continued into winter,” winter windsurfer Pavel explained. “Especially, seeing that we have very few bodies of water that allow for wind and kite surfing and in winter it's a way to enjoy boarding without having to go up a mountain or a hill.”
Windsurfing gained popularity in the 1960s and soon after surfers began to venture into the winter version of the sport.
In theory, it isn’t much different to its summer cousin – the same equipment can be used. Though, as practicing it has become more popular, many minor modifications have been made to the boards and skis.
The boards have come a long way since the first homemade ones appeared. And, like with any improvements to equipment, they directly influence performance.
“I began winter windsurfing back in 1985,” Vasily Ilyuchin, five time Russia’s winter windsurfing champion, told RT. “After windsurfing all summer I wanted to continue doing so during winter. And why not? Our winter is much longer than summer. So I began surfing on a homemade board similar to the one I showed you. Looking back, it all seems so funny and amateurish, but we didn’t care”
The abundance of snow every year helps guarantee the sport attract enthusiasts and has led to Russia becoming one of the top countries in the world for winter windsurfing.
“The Top 3 countries in winter windsurfing at the World Championships are Finland, Poland and Russia – the rest cannot compete,” winter windsurfer Aleksey stressed. “I guess it’s down to being used to winter, people aren’t afraid of minus conditions, many people from northern parts of the country actively windsurf. No one likes to sit at home, especially during winter – so any idleness is quickly usurped by sleds, skates, and skis and everything else just follows suit.”
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