Featured rider: Alexey Romanov

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Great insight into the longboard scene in the far reaches of Europe with Daddies’ boy – Alexey. Even though Russia is so far culturally and geographically, it’s great to see our love for skating is the same.
Hey Alexey! Where are you from?
Hi! I’m from Saint-Petersburg, Russia.

When did you start skating?
Not long, about three years ago. I understood that my snowboarding skills should be supported through summer time. I started to look up something I heard about – ”longboarding”. And then I met an old pal who he showed me his longboard. I was addicted immediately. I started to cruise here and there. Then did some simple slides. We don’t have any hills in St-Pete, so flatland is our usual territory. But we travel to hills several times a season.

Was this a friend in Saint-Petersburg?
Yes. It was Ivan “Zlodey” (Evil) Zeitz, an old-school and well known rider in St-Pete. He was the first who showed us how to tuck. The first time I tried to bomb a hill, I got nice and hard speed wobbles and slid on my chest for a pretty long distance. He taught me how to stand on the board when going downhill and since then we’ve spread this gift all around!

Why is his nickname Evil?
It was given to him when he was the commander of the historic war reconstruction club. I met him there long ago. We did vikings epoc. He fought like pure evil. He still does. I took part in a fight with him last year because when we arrived in Moscow for a local Longboard Day we had to battle some local bullies. No fear in this guy.

Is that like warcraft or Call of Duty?
Kind of. It was started when Warcraft was offline and run on PC 386. And the hits are much heavier since you get it from steel swords and axes. They deform your armor really badly. So, well, yes – it’s like Warcraft.

Did he skate outside Russia?
No, he didn’t. He’s completely local and was in Europe but didn’t ride there. It’s pretty tough to leave Russia, it requires a lot of money. Not everyone who wants to ride a board can afford it. Longboarding is still underground in most of Russia, though it  grows fast and some people are ordering many hundred dollars worth of completes from USA and Canada.
But we plan to hit Finland this year. Let’s start from there, we can reach it by pushing for a day or two from St-Pete.

Do you know any riders out there?

Not in person. One of our local riders lives mostly in Finland and spends some time here in Saint-P. He’s a rad Russian rider and he knows guys from Helsinki who ride.

How is the scene in St-Pete?
There’s a pretty big and fast growing community. We officially call it “White Trash Coast” (not sure why). I run it’s page on a Russian social website. We have more than 1500 members but only about 10-20 ride, you know how it is! We are very open and ready to support anyone who is just starting – there are many of them this season!
Who started this website?
A well known photo editor of Sobaka.ru (a popular city magazine). His name is Sergey. He doesn’t skate much and he’s not completely in the movement but we are in contact.

What local longboard day in Moscow were you referring to?
It’s a big party with many people, many cute girls and metrosexual guys. Moscow is a VERY fashionable city.
Everybody is hanging around in the park where a big cycle track is situated. Boiling some hot wine, making some joints, talking, walking, skating. Sometimes some races or competitions happen, then people get their prizes, wine, girls, joints, live music again. Camping after dark around a big campfire.
It’s amazing.
There’s an LGC in Russia?
We have many girls who ride but the crew is just more web community than riding party. But some of our girls are good skaters. I’ve heard you are connected to LGC of Europe, the girls who made Endless Roads. It’s a big inspiration for Russian girl skaters. I’m sure it connected many of them. I’m in touch with some girls crew from Krasnodar city – they’re trying to make a big web community and they’re gathering information about longboarding for girls. I translated Amanda Powell‘s interview from WheelBase Magazine for them. They are very inspired by western girls skaters, so say hello to European girls from Russian girls!

How is the scene in your city growing?
Pretty fast. There were about 7-10 active riders in St-Pete two years ago. We are still the core of our local movement, but now we have much more knowledge to answer the endless questions about longboards. We do not force the process of growing. We prefer healthy organic development rather than a gang of square riders with badly made boards. There’s always big commerce near the popular movements and longboarding is very popular. So there are tons of crap but expensive stuff in the local market. Today there’s more selling than riding in Russia. If you want to start longboarding but know nothing about it, there’s a 95% chance that you will buy expensive crap, it’s almost everywhere and they call them “longboards”. It’s a paradox – the most internet addicted nation in the world cannot use the internet to figure out what is good or bad.
We try to prevent such growth, speaking a lot with people about proper longboarding everyday. I started a little online longboard shop selling only high quality setups and locally made decks because Melanie (DaddiesBoardShop) said it was a good way to influence the movement positively.

Is your shop the first longboard shop in Russia?
Technically – yes. We sell longboard stuff only and started with necessary things – trucks, wheels, bushings. Also snowboards and balance boards since I love that too. It was really hard to get it in Russia before us and prices were crazy. We forced some local ”all-board” shops to match their prices of wheels and trucks with ours. Our second mission is to support local high quality manufacturers. We distribute and advertise their products.

Who are the locals making decks?
We represent two great brands – SuperApe Longboards and Different Eye Longboards (DEL). Both making great decks and work on raising their quality from month to month. A year ago no one knew those names. Now SuperApe is a big name in Russian high quality new school shaping and DEL makes good and reasonable old school decks. Good price is always important when you need a great board but you are student. That’s what we do.

How does the price and quality compare to the best imports?
Exclusive distribution is still “monopoly” in Russia. If some local distributor has exclusive rights to sell some big brands you should not expect reasonable retail or dealer prices. Big brands were nearly twice as expensive as in the USA. We ordered trucks and wheels from Daddies Board Shop and it was always much cheaper than getting it from local shops. We decided to reach out to some USA distributors for straight shipping and we cut some prices this way. But exclusive distribution is still crazy expensive.
Is longboarding emerging in other parts of Russia?
Sure. From Saint-P to Vladivostok (you can see Japan from here if you have good eyes). Moscow has the biggest longboard community since it’s the capital. They do great events with live music, they have the best stuff etc. St-Pete is the second city where a lot of people are addicted to longboarding. Our community isn’t that big but very strong!
I have my great friends in USA – Daddies Board Shop – and used to get goods from it. A year ago I started to help local people to order from DBS (they don’t ship to Russia because of credit card frauds) and I understood that all big cities in Russia have their communities. Maybe 3-4 guys and girls, but they exist. I started to send their pictures and videos to USA skate blogs and it became a great inspiration for little communities. They are really rad riders, believe me! I hope to meet them all at big events this year.

How did you make contact with Daddies?
We used to get goods from DBS for custom decks we made here for a couple of years. I contacted Melanie Loveland (the starter and owner) in hope to get a discount. She is the one of the greatest persons in longboarding I ever met. She inspired me to start the shop as a way to influence the movement. I’ve been sending her pictures of our decks and she said “you guys have to make it a business, people should have the opportunity to ride them!”.
One day they stopped shipping to Russia – some locals defrauded DBS a lot of money. I asked her for an exception for me and my friends and she agreed. Then I started to help more and more people and Melanie offered me to be their guy in Russia. It’s not official but we deal with any questions fast and easy. They are great team. This year they helped us to organize some events with big prizes never seen here before. You have a chance to win some if you come over here to take part.

So you’re Daddies’ boy in Russia?
Yes. I am a Daddies Board Shop team rider.

What is the longboard scene in Moscow like?
Many, many, many people riding, chatting, slope-sitting, jerking on brands etc. They are great in fact. Moscow makes the greatest videos and pictures, they have greatest riders and events in Russia. What is popular this season? Loaded? Then Moscow is full of Loaded boards. Next year – Rayne? Original? Then expect them to keep up with the trends. Their community webpage is full of ads “Selling Tan Tien, used for 1 year!”. I help Moscow to order Apex and Demonseeds. One day they hate advertisements and commercials, next day their web page is full of commercial advertising. Big city – big mess!
SuperApe Longboards is in Moscow. Their team riders are in Moscow. A Moscow girl rider Maria Esyutina won Ukrainian (Kiev) Slide Jam a couple of days ago – girls and boys mixed.
We love them and they love us. St-Pete and Moscow are always together. They also have core people who run the movement. Their community name is Longboard Syndicate!

Who are the team riders?
You never heard their names but they are pretty known here. Max Daday, Evgeniy Ivkov (he’s the photographer and he made “Russian” page for Daddies Pups Calendar), Dmitriy Muzalevsky and Me!

Have you been to any of their events?
Moscow Longboard Day 2011 was one of the greatest community sessions I’ve ever seen! It was fun just kicking around whole scene, watching contests, taking part in contests, drinking some light alcohol. It was well managed – free bus from the city to the place and back for everyone, good contest track, electronic timing for the downhill contest, live music, beautiful girls and friendly guys. Everyone is open minded and helpful. I remember it with warmth in my heart.
Less crowded events are fun too, even non-riding, like club parties. People from White Trash Coast are always welcome there and visit it.
Who are the guys behind the activity in Moscow?
Alexander Pakin and company – organizers of all Longboard Syndicate events and parties. Soul and easy riders. We are trying to keep connected and attend more of their events. This year they stepped off the organization and gave in to the commercial side, which is the destiny of every popular activity (as I said). Now Max Dadai tries to keep it real there, contacting with commercial organizations and taking part in organization of events, to not let them fuck up the events haha!

Do any Russian riders compete in the IGSA?
That’s funny but only one guy took part in IGSA events – Ilya Minayev who rode inline skates. He made a nice movie of the event in Teolo: http://vimeo.com/29226892

How was last season for you?
Every season I raise my skating experience and ride as much as I can and every season I try to do better than previous. The last was full of events and discoveries. I found out that if you never stop the season, jumping from snowboard to longboard and wakeboard, the level grows fast as hell. We visited many hills, met many great people and made many good friends. It was great season.
What plans do you have for this season?
We plan to organize great events and visit as many hills as possible, to scout new local and outdoor spots, to invite European skaters to our competitions and I hope you help me with that! Maybe some of us will visit foreign events. Also more slides, higher speed, more new people in movement – but that’s not a plan, that’s life!

Anything in particular you want to invite European skaters for?
Minsk Longboard Day 2012, Raubichi, Byelorussia. There’s a short but gnarly tracks for freeride, slide and bomb contests in a beautiful place out in the countryside. You’ll definitely like the track and the company. Also great prizes!

It would be awesome to see you on our side of the continent!
Thank you. We’ll meet in person, I’m sure, on both sides!

What do you predict for the future of longboarding in your city/Country?
Huge growing, total bloom. It is already pretty popular but will be extremely popular in a few seasons.

What do you ride?
I cannot ride normal decks like other people do because I always test new proto decks. It’s more fun but sometimes I really want to try Kebbek, Fullbag or Sayshun.
Now I ride several decks we test for our shop – SuperApe Exodus prototype (for 2 years already), DEL downhill prototype, Nevsky Surf maple sandwich freeride proto and maple+bamboo carve-freeride proto. I use Paris or Gunmetal Magnum 50’ with O’tang Durian or Abec11 Retro Freerides for carving-freeride and Gunmetal Double Barrel with Venom Cannibals or Abec11 Centrax for hill bombing. Always use Venom bushings – best for me.

What do you do when you’re not skating?
Sleep. I also snowboard. I spend a month of winter on the mountain side. I wakeboard. I work as head trainer in an inline skating school and spend a lot of time inline skating with my students. I take part in musical studio project Daologic, composing and producing. In the past I used to play PC games, there’s no time at all for it now but I wait for Diablo III and some other hits just to try.
Choose 3 numbers between 1-26
5, 9, 21.

5 – What is your favourite skate video?
My big inspiration and favorite video is “Let Go Longboard” where Kyle Chin freerides beautiful terrain with beautiful background music. When someone asks me – ”what is longboarding”, it’s the first movie I link him to.

9 – Favourite song to listen to when you skate
Many. Depends on mood, spot and kind of shredding. RATM, Slayer, Depeche Mode, Boards Of Canada, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Araya, Queens Of The Stone Age and many others are perfect for all styles of riding.

21 – Would you pick the red or blue pill?
Whichever one is for shredding! And glass of beer please!

It’s been awesome speaking to you bro! All the best in your future endevours!
Thank you, same here. Come to Russia and ride with us sometime.

Any thank yous?
Sure. I want to thanks Daddies Board Shop for the greatest help I ever got from people I never met in person, all crazy riders for inspirations they give and all my friends and partners for supporting this growing movement.

Links
Mostly in Russian, but this one I try to keep English: http://www.facebook.com/NevskySurf
PS: thanks to Dan Vaculík for making this happen

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