Crew Edits

Vans First Layer – Russia

A European Snow Team Adventure

[Nikita Sekh goes one-footed over some gnarl. Photo: Matt Georges]

The Vans Euro dudes have knocked it out the park again with yet another edit showcasing their team’s heavy hammer drops. This time, they headed way East to tear up the streets of Mother Russia…

Last year, the Vans First Layer project saw their Euro crew hit up Japan for a street/backcountry double header that straight up blew minds. For the follow up, their eyes turned East once more with the crew aiming to explore some of Russia’s uncharted street spots.

With a loose plan to start in Moscow before heading further east to Novosibirsk in Siberia, they knew they’d need riders that could not only throw down on demand, but that would be chill to travel together with and roll with the unexpected. With that in mind, Vans Euro TM Bruno Rivoire corralled Benny Urban, Will Smith, Antti Jussila, Sami Luhtanen, Nikita Sekh, Cees Wille, Sparrow Knox and Kevin Trammer together – a finer bunch of open-minded free spirits who also happen to rip on a snowboard, you’d be hard pressed to find.

Benny Urban gets some heavy metal, Russian style. Photo: Matt Georges
Cees Wille. Photo: Matt Georges
Nikita Sekh. Photo: Matt Georges

On their adventures, they discovered that the country offered an incredible opportunity to travel through and discover new terrain, new cultures and most importantly new environments. For Benny Urban, it was the unknown element that was to be the most memorable: “Our trip to Novosibirsk was definitely one of a kind! I think there is almost no location in the world where street snowboarding is as special as this far east in Siberia.”

There was plenty of colourful interactions with the locals, as Sparrow Knox recalls: “Moscow was classic, we arrived at a fairly sizeable waterfall rail when a local lady persistently stood in our way. She wouldn’t let us ride, even though security and the police accepted it was Ok to shred it! So here we are, local pedestrians, police and security all keen for me to ride and just one lady standing in the way. She didn’t budge, night falls, we left… but luckily we got the shot first thing and that saved the day.”

Setting the spot. Photo: Matt Georges

The trip clearly had a lasting impact on TM Bruno: “Street riding is really intriguing to most of us. How come you spend time in the city when you could be in the mountain reconnecting with the elements?” he wonders. “Well, what if you grew up in Helsinki, Quebec or Moscow? What if snowboarding in the street is just as natural for you as playing in your backyard? With huge cities and tons of snow, Russia is a promising playground for those who reinterpret the urban environment. When you spend twelve hours a day in the street, you get to experiment with Russian vibes, even if it’s hard to understand what’s really going on over there.

I have to say many moments I thought, WTF are we doing here! Pulling dead dogs out of the run or signing papers in a Russian police station… and not to mention that I wasn’t the one bailing in the landing after multiple attempts. It’s crazy to observe a team effort and the guys’ willingness to get something as trivial as a video clip. Russia was challenging, definitely not as smooth as a ‘walk in the park’, but it was a unique experience and one where memories have been made.”

To accompany the launch of the short film, Matt Georges has produced a limited edition newspaper version which will be available in select Vans stores across Europe.

“Both Vans and I believe this adventure requires printed photos. Simply holding a book, flipping pages, touching the paper makes much more of an impact than just scolling on a screen!”, says Matt Georges.

The Vans First Layer: Russia book by photographer Matt Georges

But until you manage to peruse one of those, sit back, relax and enjoy 10 epic minutes of full-bore streetboarding from the Vans Europe bosses!


Sparrow Knox and Cees Wille in the Vans van. Photo: Matt Georges
Benny Urban, Kevin Trammer and Will Smith. Photo: Matt Georges
Russian towerblocks. Photo: Matt Georges


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