Stepping my foot on a longboard for the first time, I never imagined that in 6 years I will be going to contests and riding for one of the best longboard companies in the industry. As grateful as I am this is not what matters the most, what matters is what was in between - the process.
The main problem starting off with longboarding was and still is that I live in a small town in Switzerland where there is no one to longboard with. This can be demotivating and challenging at times, but beyond great challenge always lies great reward.
If you are just like me, trying to skate in some little town, alone, wanting to get good, I want to show you that with passion and dedication one can go distance, or in our case ride the distance. My heart is with you.
Convincing Mom to Get My First Longboard
My longboard odyssey began when I went to a mall with mom when I was 11 years old. In the sports section I found a pintail longboard with blue transparent wheels and a weird graphic that resembled a tattoo that girls from the 90s would have slightly above their buttocks. I knew nothing of longboarding but something deep inside told me that this shit is for me. That “something” had no reason or explanation but I knew it was right. It took some serious persuasion to convince my mom to buy this board, but eventually I got what I wanted and there began my longboard journey.
Starting out I didn't know how to ride a longboard, how to choose a longboard and had no friends to skate with. I did not progress as fast as I could and at times it was very frustrating. Luckily, my prior snowboarding experience allowed me to learn cruising pretty fast. Soon, with the help of YouTube, I discovered that there are different styles of longboarding which I have yet to learn. I wanted to learn everything.
Click here to learn more about how to longboard from Brandon DesJarlais.
Exploring Downhill Longboarding and Not Dying
I gave a try to all styles: downhill, freestyle and longboard dancing. Although, now I mainly do longboard dancing and freestyle, in the early OG days I was into freeride, going downhill, and doing slides. Who wouldn’t be? Watching these guys ride down the alpine roads, captivated by the picturesque views as well as a combination of risk and freedom I wanted to be like those guys. I was like that bee in the Bee Movie looking up to the cool patrol bees and wanting to be them.
I was bombing hills with my disaster of a longboard. I could only foot brake, but foot breaking only worked until a certain point. Because of this, I tried to stick to roads that eventually went uphill at the bottom. I had no one watching for the cars nor I could break properly. Lucky for me, the Longboard Gods were on my side and I lived to tell the tale.
I was reckless and dumb on open roads. Today, I wouldn't do it and certainly wouldn’t recommend it to anyone either. Search for the public parks and paths where there are no cars. These are great learning environments.
Wake Up, Eat, Skate, Eat, Go to Bed, REPEAT
Two years after getting my longboard I moved to Switzerland from Russia. I had a hard time making friends because I couldn't speak English or French like the other kids and longboarding became even more important to me. It was all I ever thought about, apart from girls. Having no friends and an aching need to channel my teenage rage I started to longboard more, that’s when the most progress took place. On top of that, I got a new board that was good for tricks and slides.
My slides got better. I even learned stand up slides but I still crashed a lot. My legs and ass would always be red from road rash. Showers were torturous. Simultaneously, I was trying out new tricks. I wasn’t bad and I wasn't risking crushing into a car or a barbed wire and freestyle slowly took over for me. The more time I put in the better I got. I was lost in the flow of it and soon enough I started to get good.
I remember the summer of 2017 clearly, partly because there is not that much to remember, I was skating every day all day: Wake up, eat, skate, eat, go to bed. Years passed, I kept learning and having shit ton of fun, still all alone, but by that time it was already a norm.
Check out a video of a 17 year old me doing big daddy moves, I still remember these yellow socks with surfing minions I would put on and look like a cringe lord, that’s where I got all my skating powers from. You would think that there is nothing good about skating alone but you would be wrong. Since you don’t have anyone to look up to and imitate, you end up developing your own style.
Why I Chose Freestyle and How I Got Good At It
I loved Freestyle and its appeal of endless possibilities for exploration and self expression, constant challenge and the girls looking back at me when I did tricks. You can never stop learning nor say that you are very good at freestyle because there is just so much more.
Cannot stress enough the importance of consistency. Just like in anything you want to get good at, you need to put in the time. But don’t be too hard on yourself, find that golden line between practicing as much as you can and having fun, don’t disturb that balance, keep it Yin and Yang.
Personally at first I was very inconsistent which prevented me from progressing as fast, however at a certain point I started skating all the time because I realized that I couldn't otherwise. That’s when I progressed the most.
Making Podium at My First Longboard Competition
For 2 years I skated for fun, made videos and got to know the community online. In summer 2019 I decided it was time to level up my skating and bought a Moonshine Elixir to practice for the Paris 360 Open contest in Paris. There, I did pretty well for my first contest, I made podium for my best g turn and best trick, went up into finals for main event and most importantly I surprised the community with my unique style.
So much so that Jeff Corsi, a beast rider from Moonshine, approached me and connected me with the team manager, Brandon DesJarlais. After some chats he welcomed me to the Moonshine family. Ever since I ride and make videos for Moonshine as well as train to represent them in contests.
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My final run @360longboardopen . Thanks @katevoynova for the video) My first contest ever and I made it to finals. Frankly not happy with my run as I messed up on things I should not have. My previous runs were better. Also, I didn’t know that for dancing to count, one needs to carve it so I self sabotaged my scores. I learned from my mistakes so I will show y’all what’s up at SYCLD next. In a pro category. I’m very determined to master @moonshinemfg elixir and show some crazy shit nobody ever saw.
The American Dream Achieved by a Russian in Switzerland
There is an American dream and then there is a skateboarder dream. I fell in love with longboarding, and that love has guided me. If there is a point to it all is that if you really love doing something, in my case longboarding, don’t let circumstances dictate your dreams. Enjoy the process and the right things will happen. Now that I finished writing this article imma skate. Cheers guys!