FULLSCREEN is a series of videos to be viewed at the highest res your rig can handle.
If you grew up in the US in the past thirty years, pop culture taught you that skiing isn’t cool anymore and we all need to start snowboarding. I fell for it, but not everyone else did. Because pop culture was wrong.
In distant snowcapped countries where skiing is as ancient as the woods, people didn’t ditch their badass heirloom skis that were passed down from their grandfather’s grandfather just because some trendy new snowboards showed up forty years ago. Not even Dädi.
The Sámi and Nordic people of the Arctic circle (the Scandinavians of today) have been skiing since at least 5000 BC. Archeologists have found skis in Swedish peat bogs that date back to 2500 BC, and considering the biodegradable nature of wooden skis, we’ll probably never find the oldest ones.
Though the ski is mystical and iconic, has been written about in epic Viking sagas and used by gnarly hunters and snow warriors for millennia, skis are simple tools. It’s safe to say that humans have been screaming down mountains on shaped wood as long as there have been carving tools, alcohol and bad ideas. It’s becoming obvious to me that skiing is more than a sport to the people of the North.
When you’re surrounded by snow all year, a ski becomes an extension of the foot. It’s a smooth adaptation to the natural environment. Everybody skis, including the military. With a new respect for the history of the sport and the culture surrounding it, I stopped wondering why this wasn’t a snowboarding video and Nipwitz – Russia showed me a ski style that pushes the boundaries of some very old traditions.
Behold urban skiing. The Nipwitz posse are Finnish guys who travel the snowy parts of the Eurasian continent looking for the most shredworthy city spots. This often finds them in places where they might get punched in the face by the locals.
Before they went to Russia, Nipwitz went to Sarajevo. You might know Sarajevo as the capitol city of Eastern European former warzone Bosnia-Herzegovina. Cradled in the historically unstable Balkan Peninsula, Sarajevo has the unfortunate fate of being the place where the Eastern world meets the Western world. Raped by invasion and conquest from all sides for thousand of years, the Balkans are a place where every religion is thrown in a pit between two continents and forced to get along. As recent as 1996, white Christians and white Muslims were shooting each other in Sarajevo’s streets.
Today, Sarajevo is recovering and beginning to thrive again. The Indiana Jones dudes of Nipwitz only saw powder and handrails. They skied, made friends and kept rolling to Russia. That’s their style.
“Murmansk Oblast… This remote corner of [northwest] Russia is just a five hour drive away from our home but feels much more distant.”
“Oblast” is a word for “province” or “zone.” Sounds very Soviet to say you live in “Murmansk zone” doesn’t it? The Soviet Union tried to invade Finland in 1939, and the Finnish guys of Nipwitz definitely felt some heat from one of the Murmansk natives. Listen to freeskier Dädi tell his story of a Russian guy with a knife, watch Nipwitz crew ski some abandoned buildings and check the fly soundtrack to boot.
Adventure skiing is boss.