Vans Hi Standard Series Recap | Russia

We travelled to the Motherland for the most stylish comp in snowboarding

“We had a very successful trip to Russia. We made it back.”- Bob Hope

The Vans Hi Standard Series made its first European stop of 2020 at the Krasnaya Polyana Resort, Sochi and it absolutely popped off! We arrived late Thursday evening to rain and after a quick dinner we signed off our respect to the weather Gods and could only hope for the best.

“Sebi Springeth, Gian Sutter, Antti Jussila and Nikita Sekh hauled ass over to Sochi for the event”

On Friday we woke up to snow, I believe the scientific term would be ‘a shitload of snow’. Vans team riders Sebi Springeth, Gian Sutter, Antti Jussila and Nikita Sekh hauled ass over to Sochi for the event and even though only the bottom section of the mountain was open we still scored some killer pow lines. We spent the day hiking side hits and hips and making the most of the soft landings. Two things really jumped out at me about Sochi; the fact you had to go through a metal detector and security check to get into the gondola, and sheer number of locals that wear exterior foam butt pads. It was unsettling, people weren’t even laughing at them?? That was the moment I realised “We’re not in Kansas anymore Toto”.

Sochi Squad | PC: Ponchikz

The snow was still spewing down in the evening, and when we found out the resort stayed open until 10pm under floodlights we knew a night riding pow session was in order. The snow wasn’t as heavy as it had been in the day, and the visibility was way better, so we were primed for all time conditions. Weirdly the locals seemed to be sticking to the piste, and we were the only ones lapping under the lifts, scooping up pillows and putting down fresh tracks.

“As of 9pm Friday there was nothing built for the 10am Saturday kick off…”

The gondola up to the park hadn’t been open the last few days because of avalanche risk, so as of 9pm Friday there was nothing built for the 10am Saturday kick off… The shapers put in an absolute shift overnight and somehow came up with the goods and finished the park set up by the morning.

Nikita planting one | PC: Ponchikz

Even the Mother Nature was stoked for the comp, Saturday was the one day that the weather was good enough for the gondola to the top of the mountain to be open and the sun even popped her little head out. We lucked out and got a bluebird contest day, and the locals turned up in droves to make the most of it.

“The picnic table hosted many a one-footer and the Vans Quarter Pipe was handplant heaven”

The quality of riding was insane, and the jam format kept everything feeling really loose. The creativity of the riders was ramped up thanks to the ‘no spins over 720’ rule and they were throwing down heaters all over the course. The picnic table hosted many a one-footer and the Vans Quarter Pipe was handplant heaven. Style is king at the Vans Hi Standard Series, this ain’t no spin to win bullshit.

C.R.E.A.M Sebi, Antti & Gian aka The Money Boiz | PC: Ponchikz

The Vans team riders were busy lapping the park to pump up the crowd and handing out Van Doren Dollars to riders who were laying down the sauciest tricks. Vans Euro TM Bruno was running round like a blue arsed fly making sure everything was running smoothly, and dipping out occasionally to take a few laps. MC Nikita Sekh was on the mike as the best Russian hype man we’ve ever seen getting the crowd going and egging the riders on. He wrapped up the day by presenting the awards for ‘Worst Bail’, ‘Best Trick’, ‘Mens MVP’ and ‘Womens MVP’ to a champagne shower. Both the MVP’s win an all-expenses paid trip to Brighton, Utah for the finals at the end of March. The riders all killed it, going heavy run after run and putting on a big show for the gathered crowd.

“In America you can always find a party. In Russia the party always finds you.”- Yakov Smirnoff

What contest is complete without a rager afterward? We headed down to a small bar that Nikita recommended that evening, and the whole of Sochi must have been squeezed in there. We were promised Russian techno, buttloads of wodka and a sausage fest dance floor, and I’m happy to report all three boxes were checked.

We headed home the next day, suitably hungover with the smell of stale vodka lingering in the taxi. Huge shoutout to the Vans crew for organising the trip, all the riders, and the whole Sochi Squad. Keep your eyes peeled for the next six stops on the Hi Standard Series tour and the finals in Brighton 27-29th March. Peace out Mother Russia, until next time.

PC: Ponchikz
Night Riding Crew | PC:Ponchikz
Womens MVP | PC: Ponchikz
Boosting | PC: Ponchikz
The Last Supper | PC: Ponchikz


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