By Yuri Kazachkov
City, Fountains, Wakeskating.
These three words go together well. The connection between the first two is obvious. Every town in the world tries hard to leave a piece of nature in it. This results in flower-beds, tree remainings, senseless city zoos, and fountains, for instance. This way people try to save an illusion of primeval beauty which is being constantly destroyed by concrete jungle.
So why not bring this urge to naturalness through artificial facilities to a total absurd? There’s a “No swimming!” sign near every concrete, granite, marble or just ennobled pond in Moscow. The signs picture a crossed-out fella swimming the crawl. Well that’s just perfect! Then sign has nothing to do with us!
We are the “THM.” Dmitry “Sickboy”, Alex “Ezh” and Yuri “Yeti”. A small group of board-minded lads in search for irregular adrenaline sources. Two seasons ago we stated dreaming about using the Moscow ponds for our own purposes. We made the first attempts to open up the Memorial Museum and Moscow State University back in 2006. We were using a small Nissan Micra for towing at that time. On the one hand this fact did pump up the adrenaline as we were forced to break the driving rules and it didn’t allow us to use the “hit-and-run” tactics. On the other hand it lead to the conflicts with the police which is sometimes way too expensive in Russia.
The problem with the towing device was solved in the 2008 season. We finally became the happy owners of a winch. The winch literally loosened our hands. Nothing would stop us from conquering the picturesque wells of our megapolis now.
All over the world wakeskating is developing this way. Wakeskaters appear in the most unpredictable places in the US. The only term is availability of water. European wakeskaters try to pick the most aesthetical spots. Medieval castles, museums, cathedrals and city quays are their backgrounds. The beautifulness of Russian fountains is widely known. People from all over the world take sightseeing tours and visit them. But let’s focus on five specific spots.
–Dvotsoviy Pond (Palace Pond)–
Not too many people know thу name of this pond. It is situated between the Ostankino tower and the Sheremetyevo manor. It was drawing our attention for a long time. The first reason is the tower itself. It’s the main communication tower in Russia and is as popular as the Eifel tower. There’s a very beautiful church right across the lake. The monumental building of the telecommunications center completes the entourage. The tower and the tele-center are under a reinforced control which means that all surroundings are being patrolled day and night. Yet we managed to do everything we wanted one sunny Saturday morning. The only problem we faced was too much driftweed on the surface and underwater. We had to cancel a ride several times because the rope got caught by the plants while being unreeled and drowned. We stayed on the spot a little bit longer than it was planned initially and made off.
–The Yauza River–
Yauza is a small river which falls into the Moscow river somewhere downtown. It is known for being one of the dirtiest rivers in Moscow region. It seems the part of Yauza where we wanted to ride should be marked off with a “skull and crossbones” sign. There are some armature remains of an old aqueduct sticking out of the water, stains of oil on the surface which would get bigger if you stepped into the mud which was supposed to be the sand bottom. It even smelled like in a car repair shop there. But all this was compensated by a gorgeous “brand-new” aqueduct with huge arcs, a very winch-friendly bridge next to it and a relatively quiet environment broken only by some bums asking for cigarettes. We had enough time so Ezh and Sickboy were listening carefully to Fred and were trying to follow his order again and again. After they had drank enough of wastewater and got their feet all covered with bluish-black silt everyone went to wash off the dirt. Those who didn’t get into the water – went to wash off the feeling of dirt.
–The Vorobievi Hills—
Probably the shortest session we had. We had no luck with the weather: a lowering night sky, it started raining every 15 minutes and the wind was really tough. It felt like the autumn was already there. This time we decided to hit a huge fountain in front of the Moscow State University. Besides the weather we were depressed by the engines roaring and tires screaming. The spot was crowded by headless street-racers. It felt like there were no casual cars out there at all. Nevertheless we got set up quickly and did a few warm-up curves. After a few ollies over the artificial water-lilies we discovered that the water splashes covered the iron flowers and the rider with a little help from the wind. So we tried to get a different obstacle. It was a small outdoor ad pillar that we “borrowed” near some shop the night before. One thing we were sure about was that we would have to stop shooting at midnight sharp. It’s the time when all Moscow skyscrapers turn off their wonderful illumination.
–The Ukrainian Boulevard–
There’s a small fountain not far from the “Kievskaya” subway station in Moscow. It’s made of granite and consists of two parts of one bowl separated by a small bridge. The two parts have different names: “The Columns” and “The Table” accordingly. The bridge and “The Table” made a pretty good composition together. When we came to check the spot a couple days before – we thought that it would be nice to slide the sidewalls. But when we tried that on the “x-day” we have discovered that the granite walls are as rough as sand paper and don’t slide at all. So all we could do here was art shots with beautiful landscape backgrounds. There’s an interesting life going on around the fountains in the morning. The bums wake up, people walk with dogs, young nightlife people finish up their last bottles of beer, street cleaners in orange uniform start sweeping the pavement. Those usually have a leader which is a huge old shrew. And she is the one who dials the police as soon as she sees people messing around “her” fountain with boards, ropes and all.
The idea to make two pools, put a kicker or a rail between them and ride whenever and wherever we wanted wasn’t new. Everyone could see this kind of pools in different videos. They are usually set up at ride-together fests, championships and jams. In the end of 2008 season we finally got an opportunity to build and ride winch pools. Russian wakeboarding “papa” Andrew Rigin has arranged materials and a place in a Moscow wake-club “MRP” for us. With an appreciated help of WakeBrothers community we put two pools on the pier of “MRP”. Between the pools we put a picnic table, poured the water and began to warm-up. After a couple of hours of the photo-session suddenly one of the walls of the start pool broke and in one moment 15 tonnes of water rushed into a parking lot. Later we found out that we just forgot to connect two blocks of the wall.
We had lots of fun riding. Early morning wake-ups are always compensated when you ride with friends before explaining why you are late for work o calling in sick. The laughs you get are priceless. We were happy to entertain the gray public running to a subway station in the morning. We were sorry for the old lady calling the cops. It’s painful to hit a granite block with your back. It’s scary to go head-over-heels on the tarmac with a feeling that there was supposed to be water. Still we will push everything to the next level in the upcoming season.
Special thanks to Fyodor Toschev for the images.