Later this summer, Russia will hold a series of “national championships” to determine their potential Olympic surf team for the 2020 Tokyo Games, the Moscow Times reported last week. Just two years ago, the Russian Council of Sport, or whatever their national sporting governing body is called — I just made that title up — officially recognized surfing as a capital “S” sport. A Russian surfing federation, established in 2008, is even looking for partners to build a wave pool in Moscow.
Are you listening, Kelly Slater Wave Pool Company? Can you think of ANYTHING better or more absurdly Moscovian than an outdoors, warm-water wave pool in the middle of Moscow, fantastic supercars with Asian popout thrusters poking through their windows rolling into a parking lot, steam billowing from vodka-clear barrels, Russian models prancing around on high heels, Dion Agius launching air reverses into the glorious night, wearing one of those weird Russian fur hats? I can not.
Anyway, back to the Olympics.
Their pre-olympic trials (basically deciding who gets to be in the real Olympic trials) started last week on the Baltic Sea coast near Kaliningrad. A Google search of “Kaliningrad surf” does not reveal inspiring images of the Russian surf scene, so I suggest you don’t do that. Instead, be buoyed by the inspiring knowledge that right now, people are competing in tiny, windy surf, in the middle of the Eurasian landmass, to nab a spot on RUSSIA’s Olympic surf team.
What a world.
Moscow has a surf club, you know. People in Moscow are even paddling around on soft tops in big indoor pools. There is a Russian “Surfest” in Moscow, too. But there are no waves near Moscow. Kamchatka (usually where you’ll see Chris Burkard photographing American pro surfers) is the best known surf zone in Russia, but it’s in the massive nation’s far, far east, a really long way from Russian population centers. Russians can get to the Indonesian tropics just as easily as the frozen Northeast, so they’ll learn there, or in Europe. Once they get back home, then they’ll tackle the hardy Pacific coast.
Read the Moscow Times article here. It’s filled with charming but also very alarming bits of Russian nationalism and love of the motherland. Will there be a USA v Russia cold war in the waters of Tokyo? Revenge for the Miracle on Ice? Will there be a bizarre wave pool in the middle of Moscow? If so, can I check it out?
[Featured Image: Keith Malloy and Dane Gudauskas. Photo: Burkard]