From Russia With Love

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I’ve always wanted to go to Russia…and here I am, landing in Sochi, the designated host of the 2014 Olympic games. The small airport stands by the black sea and I’m quite surprised to see palm trees through the plane window. We make our way through the taxi drivers, chose one of them by the size of his car, and drive 45 minutes to Krasnaya Polyana. This place looks like a remote European resort…40 years ago.

Oakley always travels with a fun crew, and this trip is no exception. Grete Eliassen, Gretchen Bleiler, Angeline (who has missed her flight) and Marie-France Roy (who had some visa issues and will arrive in a couple of days).

The lift is sketchy! You sit on a red metal 2 seater while the chairlift guy holds it by handcraft for one second. With your board on your knees (as well as your backpack, gloves, ipod, etc.), you are hanging about 40 or 60m off the ground. Not to mention the lift makes weird noises. And stops and runs the wrong direction for ten seconds at a time. The way out is even sketchier—the guy grabs the chair and you have one second to jump off and run with your gear in your hands!

Everywhere you look there are Russian body guards. They look scary, but Gretchen got them to be our friends by getting them into our photo albums. So everyday they looked just mean and tough, but when we showed up, they gave us their biggest smiles (with hardly any teeth appearing aside from a couple golden ones).

It’s sunny and it looks like fun powder, but my board is glued so hard to the ground that I can’t even turn or keep my nose up. The snow is pretty much as bad as it gets. Little did we know the worst was yet to come—it rained for a week. We still went up and got a couple of jibs done. And while the skiers were building a wall ride onoe day, Gretchen and I took the lift to the top, which stayed good cause it was just cold enough to keep it together.

That night we decided to drink it blue, which is an easy thing to do in Russia. Anna showed Gretchen and I a couple breakdance moves. I painted on Shin’s face, and Grete did most of the work drinking. It worked, because we woke up to sun the next day.

It had snowed and blown quite a bit on the very top and that was our chance to make it happen. We hiked two bowls behind the top chairlift and found a couple lines, slashes and cliffs. The snow was super fun in the shady spots and I was stoked to finally get to ride! The last run down was so fun, and then we had to traverse for about an hour and hike another hour to get back to the slopes. It was  close to dark, all lifts were closed and what do we find but two of Grete’s fans waiting for her to appear out of the woods. What a good day! It’s funny how one good day can make up for everything.

What an amazing and memorable trip!

Anne-Flore Marxer

Author

Anne-Flore Marxer

Date

March 21, 2008