Not many urban snowboarders would ever think of taking their next ride in Kazakhstan. However, ROME SDS members from Waterbury in the United States picked Kazakhstan for a reason and even released a short film about their exciting trip.
The short, almost 13-minute film titled “Find Snowboarding: Kazakhstan” (http://www.romesnowboards.com/) tells the story of the young urban snowboarders who traveled to Kazakhstan to explore the unexplored and practice their stunts and tricks in the country’s former capital and current largest city, Almaty.
“The name Kazakhstan doesn’t sound safe,” said one of the riders at the beginning of the film. But in reality, everything ended up ok,” he quickly added.
The film demonstrates the skill and spirit of the riders and their colourful cultural exchanges with the local population.
“Rome SDS is a snowboard company from Waterbury, Vermont. It was founded in 2001 by Josh Reid and Paul Maravetz, two former Burton employees,” Matt Stillman, who is in charge of digital marketing and events at the company, told The Astana Times. “SDS stands for ‘Snowboard Design Syndicate,’ the concept behind which, essentially,[lies] our main goal – to build products for riders based on their input. Rome produces snowboards, boots, bindings, gloves and apparel. Our goal is to provide our riders with high-quality products that will enable them to ride over 100 days of the year.”
According to Stillman, Kazakhstan was not picked randomly.
“Kazakhstan was chosen after carefully reviewing the climate, landscape and relatively un-ridden terrain. For the most part, the global snowboard community has not spent any time in or focused on Kazakhstan, so we wanted to explore the country and see what kind of snowboarding potential it holds,” he concluded.
Another snowboarder, Ian Boll, also was keen to share his experience about the trip.
“We knew very little about the country before coming,” said Boll.“We did know that there was some snow in Almaty and that was about it. I personally had to reference a map to see where Kazakhstan was located.”
Boll, who has travelled to many countries with the exact same purpose, had positive impressions ofthe country at the end.
“There is always a little uncertainty in going to a new country, but for the most part, we were all very open to anyone that would help us out when we first arrived. We made a few quick friends who went far above our expectations in helping us out and we would really have been lost without them. This really gave us a good feeling about the county and the people living there. From then on throughout the trip, we were taken care of very well by friends and strangers. We left thinking that we had never been to a place where people were so eager to help us,” said Boll.
The trip didn’t go without cultural surprises for Boll, as he noted the local cuisine.
“Everyone was pretty taken back the first time horsemeat was served. After the first time, it really didn’t bother us anymore. No one was going out of their way to order it, but we ate it [laughing].”
In general, Boll left with positive impressions of the country and underlined that the hospitality of local people at times went “beyond welcoming.”
“[Kazakhstan] is a beautiful country and Almaty has a lot to offer. It would be great to go back in the warmer months too. The people were all beyond welcoming and happy to help us with whatever we needed. It was such a nice culture to travel in! Thank you to everyone who helped us out along the way,” Boll concluded.