After Winterclash I already knew what will be my next blading destination, and that was no tropical south side. With help from my travel companion Konstantins Makarovs and support of the local blading community I made my way to Russia for the third time in my life.
Words and photography: Kaspars Alksnis
Our goal was only 5000 km away from our home in Krasnoyarsk which you can call as “Pearl of Siberia”. Industrial city with unbelievable nature treasures around it. Besides these true facts there is something more which was one of the main reasons to fly all this way to the middle of Asia.
The reason was the huge indoor sports arena named “Sportex”. In other words, it’s a “Woodward style” skatepark (made by two Russian legends Zaytsev & Spartak) area with all kind of spot options and a small crossfit club on one side, and an acrobatics area on the other. If you are a kid with parents who want to raise an active and healthy human being with help from positive and open minded trainers then it’s hard to find a better place probably in the whole of Russia.
Arriving five days before the event’s start gave us a chance to turn into chill mode. Everyday, we slept well in our amazing hostel, walk around the city during day, joined in for an afternoon lunch / training session in the park and ate self-made dinner or street food with childhood lemonade “Tarhun” in the evenings.
As we explored life in Krasnoyarsk more and more it didn’t take us long to realize that it all reminds us our hometown Riga but with slightly different contrasts between old and new, poor and rich or well-considered and careless. All that comes with the famous Russian hospitality and their language which is common in old Soviet Union countries. This gave us the opportunity to talk with all riders who came from different places in Russia and appear on local TV for an early morning interview. We loved to say that we lived the “pro lifestyle” by representing only riders aboard from “Team Latvia”.
The Red Jam event started with qualifications on Friday where all riders competed in jam format runs in the street style area. Everyone starting from small to big riders did their best. In that moment, I realized that these guys take blading pretty serious in a good way, and that’s because they have so much natural talent which comes together with bright smiles.
The finals were on the next day, with the top 20 competing in front of a big crowd of spectators. While the MC and DJ were doing their thing, the riders bladed their best to get their spot on the podium. My run as member of “Team Latvia” was short and after the first trick attempt I crashed and opened a bloody black hole in my elbow, so I missed the best tricks and prize ceremony while I was getting my first stitches in a hospital.
Shortly after I came back to the hostel with my arm fixed, met riders and went for an afterparty to say congrats to the Red Jam 2017 champion Nikita Baikov who managed to win the event for the second year in a row. With some vodka shots, funny conversations and dance battles was enough to say that this trip was successful.
On my way back home I remembered talking to local heroes like as Leonov and Spartak, and in their words was something common – let’s keep blading, make it more sober and take care of the future generation. As a blader who has been in the game for last 17 years I totally agree with my new Russian friends. I wish them all the best in keeping this event strong and alive. It’s part of their past and future. Spasiba for everything!
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