Surf like a Russian: Athletes defy subzero temperatures to ride icy waves in St. Petersburg (PHOTOS)
The exotic sport of winter surfing has become a new attraction in Russia with more and more athletes attempting to conquer the stormy waves of the few seas and lakes which remain unfrozen during the winter.
In St. Petersburg, surfers defy subzero temperatures and stormy winds to glide on the waves across Lake Ladoga and the Gulf of Finland, which are not iced over in February.
“Whether it’s winter or summer... it doesn’t matter, we go surfing,” says Nikita Kononovich, 29, who commits himself to surfing all year round.
The surfers paddle into the ice-cold water without fear of being frozen as their wetsuits provide thermal insulation, protecting them from injury.
The waves at this time of the year are no higher than 1.5 meters. However, stormy winds combined with snow and ice plates which drift on the water make surfing even more dangerous.
Taking all precautionary measures, the surfing sessions don’t last more than two hours, as temperatures below zero make hands and feet go numb and cover the athletes’ faces with ice.
“The worst moment is when you get out of the water and go to get changed,” said another extreme surfing lover, Danila Novozhilov.
“Surfing in winter isn’t particularly hard. You need to respect a few rules like watching how long you spend in the water to protect yourself from the cold.”