'Appealing and difficult.' First surfing championships in Far North

MOSCOW: Correspondent Nikolay Kochetkov/. When thinking about surfing, people would imagine the bright sun, warm beaches and people on board...

MOSCOW: Correspondent Nikolay Kochetkov/. When thinking about surfing, people would imagine the bright sun, warm beaches and people on boards cutting through the waves. The Murmansk Region, which is fully within the Russian Arctic Zone, also has sandy beaches, the rare northern sun and, of course, people cutting through the waves. However, wearing a regular swimsuit is not for that climate. Anyway, in the autumn of 2023, the region established its own surfing federation.

Expecting mercy from nature

To get to a place where you can launch a board, you must first travel from Murmansk to the famous Teriberka [village]. It has hosted the first official competitions of the new federation - the Murmansk Region Surfing Championships. They turned out to be unique in many ways. Let's see why people would go to the Far North to catch their wave.

The distance from Murmansk is just 120 km. The driving time is 2 to 3 hours, depending on the season and weather. At times, the only road to the village may be closed, and nobody would say for how long.

Snow, wind and zero visibility there make adjustments to any trip, even if in late spring. This is exactly what happened this time: on May 21, the championships' eve, when the athletes were due to arrive, the road to Teriberka was closed, and the competitions were at risk. However, realizing the importance of the first official competitions in the Arctic, the northern nature changed its anger to mercy. The road to Teriberka had remained closed for just a few hours.

An incredible feeling

"Surfing in Teriberka is always a challenge, it's always something appealing and difficult, take for example the road closure story - you may never make it as planned," said Gleb Krysenkov, a surfer from St. Petersburg. "And only the very moment you step into cold water carrying a board, having overcome all the hardships, that's when you get a unique incredible feeling. Surfing and the Arctic are great, these two combine perfectly well."

Compared to St. Petersburg, water in Teriberka is more "calm ", at least on the championships day, Gleb said. "The water is saltier here, and you like to surf with no wind, with "oily" smooth waves, but as for St. Petersburg - we don't have waves there without wind. Today, in Teriberka, the surfing conditions are ideal: small waves, no struggle with the nature, and the bright sun. The conditions are comfortable, however, they keep changing every 10 minutes, and it takes time to get tuned."

Harsh surfing in harsh conditions

As the surfer from St. Petersburg was speaking, grey clouds gathered in the sky, and athletes had to fight not only against waves and wind, but also against snow, which spread a thick blanket above the entire coast, ignoring the fact that calendar summer was to come in a week. The air temperature is about zero, the water temperature is plus 4 degrees - ideal conditions, sophisticated athletes say.

"At this temperature, the water density is the highest, and professionals like dense water because you can gain more speed on it. I have never been to the North before and have not surfed the northern waves, but the Teriberka waves look just perfect. Here, conditions for surfing are among the best across Russia, where I've been as a referee," Russian surfing champion and the Arctic Championships' Chief Referee Eldar Kakurin said. "The water is excellent, the forecast is very good. We've waited for long, delayed twice, but now everything is perfect."

Teriberka, like the Murmansk Region's other spots (this is what surfers call locations to catch waves), has a few advantages. One of them is that the place is relatively close to Moscow and St. Petersburg - just two hours by plane, unlike the Kamchatka. Another advantage is the polar day, when the light remains all day long. The no-sunset season in the Arctic begins in late May and continues for two months - till late July. The Murmansk Region Surfing Championships' qualifying stage was held at night, for the first time in the history of Russian official competitions.

"You can surf round the clock - it's fantastic, I haven't seen anything like this anywhere. It was for the first time in my life that I judged competitions that started at 10 in the evening and finished after midnight," the referee said. "When we were done at about two-thirty at night, the sky cleared up, and there was an amazing glow, very beautiful."

Three or four athletes competed 20-25 minutes during the qualifying stage, and of every session only two, without the right to make mistakes, continued the contest. "At the ocean, you may surf from morning to evening for three or four days, but here suitable waves may last for just three or four hours, and we don’t have the luxury to practice the qualification longer, not to have finals and to wait for another occasion for another two weeks, thus we have harsh surfing in harsh conditions," he added.

Arctic Championships

The Arctic's climatic conditions positively define straightforward conditions for athletes. Instead of swimming trunks and swimsuits - a warm wetsuit that even covers the head, and special gloves. "The sea is gentle, it's not cold at all, the face turns a little, and in gloves the water seems even hot," Viktor Zvorykin, living in Murmansk, said. He was just out of the water after a semi-final. "In fact, I'm a freediving instructor. I've surfed so-so, but still happy about myself, because I've come here for fun. We have a small local surfing community, and we have to catch forecasts to come here."

Surfing in the Murmansk Region is available year round during the forecast period. In winter - from October to December, in spring - from March to June, in summer - less often, but trainings continue anyway. "Our guys train in Teriberka, they've opened spots also on the Rybachy Peninsula, but we've decided to hold the regional championships in the safest possible location, as there are no rocks here, the bay is sandy plus the depth difference - deep in some places and somewhere not," President of the Murmansk Region's Surfing Federation Alexandra Nizovets said.

The Teriberka competitions featured athletes from other regions: Kaliningrad, St. Petersburg, Kamchatka. They have performed, not competed, as the results will form the Murmansk Region's surfing team to compete at the Russian Championships in Vladivostok and Sochi in October.

The Championships' winners among men were: Dmitry Tkachuk (gold medal), Alexander Konovalov (silver medal), and Viktor Zvorykin took third place. Among women, Maria Klimova was the first, Alyona Pyzhova and Anna Alexandrovskaya were the second and third, respectively.

"It is very important for us that the regional surfing federation has developed, held official competitions and formed a regional team, since the Murmansk Region has unique conditions for absolutely all surfing disciplines: thrusters and longboarding, as well as paddleboarding. The region is among the Russian Federation's 10 basic regions, which the Russian Surfing Federation defines as the main regions for the development of surfing. Theoretically, Teriberka could become a Russian surfing center," Vice President of the Russian Surfing Federation Victoria Proshkina said.

The Murmansk Region's Surfing Federation is confident the regional championships are the starting point, and this sport will actively develop in the Arctic conditions, which are not at all scary, as they shape characters of real winners.

-News Feed




Local Glob: 'Appealing and difficult.' First surfing championships in Far North
'Appealing and difficult.' First surfing championships in Far North
Local Glob
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