Our globetrotting friend, pro skater and CEO of Natural Koncept, Josh Zickert, just reported back from a recent trip to Russia. Have a read and check his travel photos. Follow @jzradical on Instagram as he’s currently on another adventure in India.
Within 10-minutes on the train from Vnukovo International Airport to Moscow, I was drinking wine out of a two-liter plastic bottle with the couple sitting next to me. They offered, and I thought it would be rude to say no. The 45-minute ride to the center of one of the largest cities in the world was so strange yet exciting. I was officially in a very foreign, somewhat lawless part of the globe. I knew this trip was gonna blow my mind!
Patrik Wallner had arranged for me to link up with the skaters in Moscow through his good friend and Russian kingpin of Absurd Skateboards, Kiril Krobkoff. After checking in to my hostel, I headed straight to Gorky Park where Puma Shoes and Kiril were holding an event that day. Within 15 minutes I had already made several new friends and had a beer in my hand. And by the end of the best trick contest in the Puma bowl, I had some Rubles (Russian money) in my pocket!
The next 12 days were spent in Moscow skating the streets all day and night. The Nasvay Crew—Pasha, Stas, Yuriy, and Dimitry were the main skaters I rolled with on the daily. These guys were the shit. They knew every dope spot in Moscow and beyond, skated tough as f—k, and made sure I was always looked after. Check out Nasvay, along with Absurd, it's one of the raddest skate companies in Russia.
Typically around noon we would meet up each day at Red Square or Victory Park, get some lunch and than make a plan for the day. The spots seemed endless. There were so many awesome skateable sculptures, marble banks and ledges it was insane.
Getting around Moscow was really exciting. The Moscow metro transit system is absolutely incredible. It's built ten-times deeper underneath the city than any subway in NYC. Literally it's a five-minute escalator ride deep into the earth. However it features the most beautiful marble decor when you get to the tracks. It's unbelievable. Trying to read the station names is basically impossible. Each line is numbered and has a designated color so that's what I used to get around (and I pulled out my metro map occasionally and pointed to my stop and a random person would come to the rescue). It's exciting to be completely lost and out of touch and not hear anyone speaking English.
I did have one dear friend, Kat, who works at Allure Magazine and another friend Etnie, a jewelry designer from NYC that took me deep into the nightlife side of Moscow. I was rolling into the fanciest high-end clubs in the city, I couldn't believe it. The Russians sure know how to party and the girls are out of control, beautiful and they love Americans. Enough said.
My final day in Moscow, Kiril had arranged for the NK video to premiere at the best skate shop in the city, Druzhba. First they played the Nasvay vid and then Natural Koncept's Creepin' for Life. It was an awesome premiere and the skaters were hyped and a big session took place in the Moscow streets following the movie.
An hour before getting on the overnight train to Saint Petersburg, I had some random chick film me ollie into a scary curved hubba directly in front of the central station. First try, I smacked my head on a pole at the bottom and was bleeding profusely. I got up quickly and yelled at her to keep filming and pulled it the next try. Trying to get on the train with my head full of blood wasn't easy but I pulled it (put a T-shirt over my head and than my hat on top). I'll admit I was a little scared as I knew I needed stitches.
Saint Petersburg was absolutely gorgeous with canals running through the city along with several castles and amazing cathedrals. The first day I checked out The Hermitage, which was built in 1764 and is one of the oldest and largest art museums in the world. It was pretty cool to say the least.
Yuriy from Nasvay had cruised to Saint Petersburg a few days earlier so we linked up and he introduced me to the Saint Pete crew. These guys killed it just as hard as the skaters from Moscow. We met up at Moskovskaya square and within 20-minutes mad shit was going down. All the skaters had such love for skating and killed it! Everyday we met up at the Gostiny Dvor station and hit up spots ’til dark. The spots were endless and the police could care less about us skating the best marble monuments ever created.
I definitely learned a lot about Russia and its history during my stay. Stalin, Lenin, etc. As of 1992 it's recognized worldwide as the Russian Federation and no longer the Soviet Union. This country has been through the ringer and they still keep a positive attitude and everyone throughout the trip made sure I was safe. I definitely want to go back this summer! Get to Russia and skate that marble! I'm meeting up with the entire Nasvay crew for a skate tour through India next week!
Thanks to Arizona Iced Tea, Drunknmunky, Rockstar bearings, MILK Studios for making this trip possible!
Red Square. I was staying just a few blocks from here. It's the most central point in Moscow. I thought it was named Red Square because of Russian's association of Communism but it's actually named that because of its beauty.
Yuriy, Stas Provotorov, and Pasha Kryukov kickin' it at the most famous street plaza in Russia. Prospect Park.
Stas Provotorov is sponsored by Fallen, Indy, and Dakine in Russia and is a ripping skater and epic dude all around. Steezy back D. Moscow. Photo: Alexey Lapin
Yuriy locked into this Smith grind like a champ in Moscow. Photo: Dima Krayuhin
Skate Posse. The kid on the far left reminded me of The Muska!
May 9 is know as Victory Day in Russia. It's one of the most popular public holidays as it celebrates the end of the Great Patriotic War in which Russia defended its homeland against the Nazi Germany invasion and its allies. It's appropriately named Victory Park. It's the Love Park of skateboarding in Moscow with marble ledges everywhere!
Victory Park crew: Yuriy, Stas, Pasha, and friends.
Our crew: Yuriy, Katya, Stas and Pasha gettin' that footy. We skated here for two hours, ate lunch, drank beers—no problems at all with the security. It's so chill in Moscow.
Probably my favorite spot the entire trip. I had to jump over a massive fence to get to this wallride. Photo: Yuriy Renov
These girls lived in the same building as my friend I was staying with. When I first arrived to the apartment this is what I saw. I had to run ahead to shoot this photo. The girls’ parents couldn't believe I was actually from the United States. It was kind of trippy.
The skateshop crowd hyped on the NK premiere!
The second day in Saint Petersburg, we already had a massive crew rollin' through the streets. This marble ledge spot was off the hook! Monument Dzerzhinsky.
After the session in Moskovskaya Square, Vova Ivanov, Vitalik Zvorigin, Pidjak, Kostya Kulagin, and I drank beers in the park. The Russians know how to live it up!