The team-manager of the Vans Russian skate-team, Kirill Korobkov, has celebrated his 30th anniversary in September. In honor of the jubilee, Kirill has given a big ITW to site skater-ru. A funny conversation with Kirill with the accompanying of the Lesha Lapin's photos.
Hi, Kirill! How have you met the jubilee? How have you celebrated this big date?
Bluntly speaking, I didn't succeed in doing nothing particular for my jubilee. Literally one week before my birthday, I've returned back from a big tour around Caucus with Patrik Wallner, and with the team, and before this, there was a tour around the Ural and the SibSub camp. It's come out, that I've spent more, than one month in the streets, and I haven't literally had neither time or forces for arranging the party. By looking back at how gaily we've celebrated my 25th anniversary in a garage in Cheboksar with a group of 30 persons, it's a little bit shameful, that this year I didn't succeed in gathering up the friends. Evidently, I will have to try to overtake what's missing in the next year. I've celebrated my birthday with a family-dinner with parents and girlfriend and in the evening of the same day I've flown to Madrid to the final of the Vans Shop Riot.
Which is the most remembering gift, that people have given you for birthday?
It's probably my first skateboard. But I've not really valued it at that time. Already back in the childhood, when I was probably in the 5 or 6 class, my mum has given me as a gift a Sovietic skate without trucks at all. This was a classical Sovietic model, a yellow skate with strips of glass-dust above. According to its set-up, it was close to the American models of 20-30 years ago. Some wheels really close each other, a really flat and heavy deck. I've skated it literally like 1-2 times, after I've thrown it to the junk room. The interest to the Skateboarding has reawaken in me just closer to the end of the school. After a separation for some months, I've met up with a very good friend of me, who's showed up to me with a skate. I got really blogged at this and I still get. I've taken from the shelf the same skate, but in a year I've brought a real skate from abroad.
You've got into a new era, when many people just look back at the previous years, and it's possible for them to just change their priorities in life. How has your approach to Skateboarding changed and also your world view in general?
I can't say, that I've felt a crisis of middle-age in myself or something similar. It's kinda like there's the feeling, that time passes by really fast and that's what scares a little bit. It's really strange for me thinking, that I'm already 30th years old. But there aren't any regrets about the way I've chosen or about the place I've found myself at right now. I've been skating for already 15 years, and Skateboarding has given my many things, it's helped out in becoming what I'm right now. For what concerns the approach to Skateboarding, it's possible to say, that I've starting off approaching it in a more adult way. I've been really liking till now skating by myself, but, considering how many years have passed by, I just want to do only those tricks, that come up easily and bring entertainment to me. There isn't no more desire or interest just to focus on one trick for an hour or to risk more. I less like those tricks, where it's necessary to do a big ollie or to pop strongly, but on contrary banks, causing, slappy spots really amuse me. Above all there's perhaps one trick left, that I've not learnt, but I really want to learn it: a classic wallie at the edge of walls and ledges.
Aren't you tired of the continuous tours, or on contrary, have you become dependent to a similar life-style?
Most probably the second one. The tiredness is a temporary phenomena, showing up at the end of the long tours. But it's impossible to practically give up traveling. Every tour is always an adventure, a discovery, a knowledge, new and old friends, spots, Skateboarding. It's above all during tours, that life-rhythm gets felt better. There are obviously some bad moments or some unavoidable situations, but already in 2-3 weeks before your return to home, you usually want again to go elsewhere. And it's been a long time, since I got used to this life-style.
Was there an excess of extreme situations during your tours? For example, some serious problems with the law and local population?
We've perhaps succeeded in avoiding danger for life. Some arrests, problems with cops, police, local citizens, private-properties, swindlers or troublemakers, requisitions of skateboards, some conflicts did take place. I've met the most hostile approach to Skateboarding in Abchasia. People there haven't just liked skateboarding in the spots, but also the fact, that we were cruising around the streets of their capital. It was just necessary to put our feet on board, that some pretenses or threats just started off arising from both of the sides. And one time together with Vitalik Kotov and Dima Rodionov we got expelled from Monaco just for the fact, that we were making a 5 minute downhill just in the street. Some cops in cars with the alarm arrested us and we was subjected to some serious squabbles, mixing together English with French, that have ended up with the phrase: "You're not welcome in Monaco anymore!".
Just name the most suitable places for Skateboarding among those places you've been in. Where are some enough good spots together with a loyal concern to skating?
I will hardly be original if I'll name Spain. I can't name another country, where spots, that you've been quoting for years, get successfully mixed with the loyalty of governments and local citizens. The Spanish architecture is unreal. Spanish architects really like experiment with the sloping-surfaces, corners, radiuses and slopes. Some unique spots have been coming up thanks to this, that's hardly to imagine. All know Barcelona, but there's a pile of other cities, famous for their spots in Spain. You can often find out a super-spot even in the far villages. And the plus is that it's always hot, the sea, the expensive wine and the tasty food. There's also China, but citizens of the European part of Russia can bypass this, there's the language-barrier, a huge difference in the cultures and mentality there dividing. I really like more Spain.
Right now the tours abroad have become even more valued for the national skaters. Which skate-tours of our country are right now the most attractive ones?
Many many spots have showed up in Moscow in the latest 2-3 years. I consider our capital as one of the best cities for Skateboarding in Europe, yes and in the entire world. I think, that the skate potential of Moscow has been known for a while. Skaters can endless assimilate and analyze a big city like this. Also the reconstruction of the central streets has given in the latest years many new things, many spots, that used to be unsuitable for Skateboarding back then, have become suitable. The must astonishing thing is the fact, that till now you can't get kicked out. The most different types of spots from the Soviet monuments till the nowadays plazas get mixed together in Moscow, it's possible to find out either downhills or rails, radiuses, there are some harsh and rough spots and some ideal surfaces. For what concerns the other Russian cities also the South cities of the Krasnodarskiy region have a special potential thanks to the hot-climate. In Sochi, bluntly speaking, it's possible to skate in some comforting conditions for all the winter. And it's not colder in Novorossiysk, and even in Krasnodar, where in half of the winter it's possible to be +10°-+15°. If you have the possibility, just go to Vladivostok, it's also good there.
I've liked from the previous visited cities Ufa, the latest International meetings have left a good heritage for local skaters. I think, that it's undeservedly forgotten Kazan'. Sometimes it's good to be in Saint-Petersburg, but in contrast to Moscow, there're not there practically new spots, showing up. We've been usually skating in the classic spots.
Does life in Moscow, her crazy rhythm completely suit you? Wouldn't you like in the future to give up all this and to settle down in a calm little place, it's possible somewhere abroad?
Sometimes I like Moscow, but I don't more often. If you don't live in the center (I live in Balashiha, a city in the Podmoskovie), at that time many forces and time gets spent in the street, transfers, traffic-jams, waiting. Without any doubts Moscow is a center of force, it's one of the worldwide capitals, but in the majority of the daily questions this doesn't add comfort. City has been increasing itself in the latest years, it's becoming better, but, by the way, I'm not sure, that I want to live here all my life. Bluntly speaking, I haven't never taken into consideration moving abroad, I don't really get attracted by moving to a permanent living-place to another country, traveling-yes, but I want to live in my house. Most probably I've been think about getting back to Cheboksary. It'd be interesting to come back to my mother-city in some years and to check out if I could live there or not.
How did you become a permanent member of the crew Visualtraveling, headed by Patrik Wallner? Let's tell something about your latest tour.
Back in '09 Patrik has written me a letter and he's proposed me to become the guide-tour along the Transiberiana, from Moscow to China. This is how we got acquainted each other with. The passion to tours and the attraction to the farthest and exotic places unifies us. In these 6 years, Patrik has passed from being a perfectly unknown filmer with Hungarian-German roots to one of the best skate-filmers of the world. The type of tour, that he's chosen, has turned out to be required and actual. Till now we've been trying once per year to go somewhere together. The crew Visualtraveling got gathered on the base of the first 3 tours. As I've said above, we've recently come back from a three-weeks tour along Georgia and Armenia. The video with the participation of Goshan, Madars Ape, Walker Ryan, Pat Duffy and Barney Page will be published on the RedBull Skateboarding site.
Which is the next huge and upcoming project?
Patrik is planning a massive tour around Africa for the winter, there haven't been any analogous tour in the skate world yet. In the list there are ca 10 African countries, including also Dzjbuti, Eritrea, Somaliland and other, not less worthy countries. Right now he's working upon his first big book which he's picking up the photos from any Euro-Asiatic country for. It's like 100 countries.
You've been in the same team with these legends like Chris Hallam, Pat Duffy and Mark Gonzales. What can you tell about them as persons?
All persons are different and it's possible to tell the same also about skaters. Legends are always different. Some of them are simple, just persons on the board, other are less get used to talking. For what concerns the three skaters you've named, they aren't really close each other. Chris Haslam is unique. He's opened, friendly, but at this time he's selective for the food, he doesn't drink, he doesn't smoke, he has a big external aspect, that doesn't correspond to his likable and good character. At this time he's always ready to raise the bar. So, 5 years ago after the Adrenalin Games, he's got on in my car, we've brought with ourself Yura Renov and we've gone on tour through Nizhniy Novgorod-Cheboksary-Kasan'. I'm sure, that he hasn't never heard neither one of these cities before, but this has really messed him up. He's especially come from America to the Balkans above all for us. The latest time I've sen him was this summer in Berlin at the Globe Demo. Above all, at that time when Yura was taken part in the demo, we together with Chris were talking over his tricks by side.
Pat Duffy is a real machine. It's possible just to envy a so quantitative of healthy and energy at his age. He's been loving just chill out till the end with a little, but at this time in the morning he'll attack the spot firstly. Whilst the others are just getting back, by checking out who'll be the first to set the trick in S.K.A.T.E., Pet is already filming a real trick at the chosen spot. At this time, he hasn't lost the control on the board. Yes, he hasn't the most elegant style, he practically doesn't skate rails at all, but it's not a problem for him just to fall down from a serious gap or to make a 3flip down the stairs. At this time it's evident, that till now his eyes just sparkle at the view of new spots and Skateboarding. When he's not skating, Pet supports the fellows, cheers up for every trick more actively than others. Above all Pet is our new neighbor. Duffy will move from California to Finland, where his wife is from, since the next year. I'll ask him to come the next summer to Russia. But personally I've not got acquainted with Mark Gonzales. I've heard many things about his creative, crazy and absorbing character, that just not all succeeds in understanding. For just not spoiling the impression and expectations from this astonishing person, I've just tried to look at him from the side.
Many people have heard many things about your noisy night-life. Where is most absurd tour you've succeeded in being in?
Many things have happened. To me tours is one of the ways of better knowing that place I've turned out to be at. Sometimes it's above all tours, bringing you to these places and situations where you personally didn't expect to be at. It's a possibility to see at persons, to see how the city lives. It's harsh for me to arrive to a new place and right after skateboarding go sleep. Obviously, often the situation becomes ungovernable, craziness, chaos, the intense desire of adventures arises if you're in the suitable crew. It was really fun, some situations it was really harsh to get back from have taken place, it was terrible, but this is what "skate life" is about, that's how we've been living. It's possible to remember for a long time the most infernal tour, but the first thing, that has flashed across my mind is Antanarivu, Madagascar, just sitting at 5am with Goshan in front of a fire, blazing with an old bottle, drinking beer, with local taxi-drivers, some abandoned kids, street-bitches around us, we haven't neither a common language with them, but we try to talk over with them about life for a long time. It's possible, that in any moment every of them can try to rush over, to mug us just for the fact that we aren't locals, but as result nothing terrible has happened. The situation where Skateboarding has brought us, where we were and spent time with those persons, is astonishing for us. The latest not-bad situation was with dances in a club for immigrants' from Peru with Peru and Bolivian guys in the same crew in the outskirts of Madrid with the Board Shop N.1 team.
Which was the judge of the International level? How physically or emotionally is harsh to judge some big contests and how high the responsibility in this thing is?
In reality it's enough a difficult and unpleasant work. The judging is a certain thing, that despite the fact, that you've tried to judge in a good way, you'll practically even find out those, who will be dissatisfied with your decision. The probability of conflicts, offenses, squabbles is high. It's not a secret, that sometimes big money are up for the grabs in the skate-events, and all this increases the pressure upon the judges. There's always a pile of responsibility, laying on the judge and it's even more difficult if you're personally known with all the riders. The judging is a subjective-thing and everyone has its own vision to Skateboarding and how to judge it- It's necessary to be ready to the fact, that your decisions can't be liked by all by the way.
How have you turned out to be in that thang?
Bluntly speaking, I don't even remember how I've started off judging. This was during the times of the skatepark "Adrenalin". We've probably made a certain contest for skater.ru or pro skater.ru and when it came to choose who'd judge all, the answer has fallen to me, considering, that I wasn't suitable for the other positions. And after this is how all has started off, I got used to this, I've gathered a certain experience, I've started off concerning this in a more serious way. This year I was the main judge at the Simple Session, that's perhaps the pick of my judging-carrier. I'll say for a secret, that I could even correct the other judges' valuation if to me they've valued the rider not really correctly, but bluntly speaking, I've tried not to adopt this instrument. It's necessary to judge at the international contests really fastly. Sometimes you have to judge 3-4 skaters in 15-20 seconds, it's forbidden to slow down, considering, that all is stuck to a translation and a severe ruling. It's easier to judge the unknown skaters in comparison to those you're really familiar with.
How could you describe the Russian skateboarding nowadays? What's to expect further: a solid raising or an oppressive damping?
The situation with our Skateboarding is doubled. From one side there's a increasing, going on in Moscow besides whom there's Saint-Petersburg, but all the good things end in these 2 cities. The new skateparks have been built up only here, the skaters' quantity, if it doesn't grow up, at least remains enough impressive, all filmers and photographers are focused here, some national skate-functioneers are evident, practically all the significative skate-events take place in these two cities. And the relation is like 70% to 30% in advantage to Moscow. And in the majority of the other cities of the country, Skateboarding is in decline.
There's even less guys skating, even in the cities with a population of more, than 1mln of people, renown for the ancient skate-traditions, right now there's actively 15-20 persons. In particular those, who's fanatically loving Skateboarding and skating since so much time for just doing other things and giving it up, have remained. the skate-scene of your Omsk is the perfect example to this. The regional skateshops either close themselves or in the best case hardly make the ends with. There're not practically new names in the regions, showing up. The most shameful thing is that I don't see particular prerequisites for increasing this situation. Among the negative factors there's either the rise of the skate-goods or a weak increase of the infrastructure of the Russian cities (just try to skate if in your city 5 streets have good asphalt and 2 and half spots it's possible to get kicked out from always), and the best skaters' moving to Moscow or Saint-Petersburg.
For concluding the answer in a good tone, I can say, that our Skateboarding has become significantly more known in the European arena. Russian skaters permanently shine in the International contests, photos with our skaters get often published in the European magazines, they've started off inviting the best Russian guys to the International projects and tours, they've been trying to integrate us in the International Skateboarding-phenomena.
And what could you say about the regional phenomena of Tjumen? That's not the first year in a raw, that one of the main events in the Russian skateboarding, that wasn't carried out even in the capital, has taken place in. It's possible to say, that also other cities "have just got off their knees" with the example of Tjumen?
A rare simbiosi for our country of Skateboarding and government has arisen in Tjumen. I'm very glad of the fact, that thanks to the Irina Neuimina's and the team of SibSub's efforts, Tjumen has turned out into one of the centers of the Russian Skateboarding. All has started off from an indoor skatepark, that has given spur to guys of Tjumen for a future increase. The local skaters got lucky to take advantage of this support, in the majority of other cities this doesn't exist. I hope for the phenomena in Tjumen will live and further. Before any new big events in Tjumen is exiting, if there'll be a party for this or not. I wish SibSub success.
It's possible for Skateboarding to become a part of the Olympic Games in Tokyo of '20. What will this turn out to be? The achieve of a rebellious spirit of Skateboarding or just with another step of increasing we'll have to get used to?
It's been a long time since some hot-disputes about the fact if this is good or bad started off circling around. I've been trying to avoid some radical valuations with the sign of + or - . I think, that there's always place for all. If you want to remain in the underground, to keep on living and skating in the streets, none won't drag you out by force to a training skate-selection. It's possible for those, who will struggle for fun for a gold medal, will be found out, just let 'em go for it. These aren't two mutual-excluding things. Personally I'm more attached to the classical vision of Skateboarding in its street, rebellious vibe, but I'm not intended in gathering petitions against the inclusion of Skating into the Olympic program and to convince of the fact, that Olympic Games will destroy Skateboarding.
I think, that the green signal has been already given to Skateboarding by the Olympic employees and it's necessary to deal with it. Furthermore the street Skateboarding will be alive till now whilst these guys as you will cruise around Omsk with +5°, by ollieing into or off a ledge, just by leaving the signs of a crooked grind in a new flower-bed of a new renovated street. So all is in the hands, or in the legs of the same skaters.
I'm remembering, that in one old ITW you've assured, that the national sites about Skateboarding are one of the strongest ones in the world. Nowadays it's clear, that practically all the auditory has moved into the social-networks, that have practically "suffocated" the activity of these sites. What will be further?
Our skate-sites aren't living the best times, that's fo sure. The actual youth is living with the social-networks, all want to receive the infos in a maximum easily and fast way, the situation instead of the history: a 15th second of video instead of a real 1 minute. That's the thing, you can't do nothing, however the classical view of the Skating-magazine is closer to me: the big, good photos, the interesting histories, a really good video. This is what I was boggled at when I've started off skating, and also right now I prefer more the big format. To me Skateboarding is something more, than a stupid post in a group or a 15th seconds banging in Instagram. The next time, when you'll be fed up of updating your news-page of your accounts, just get into the address-url of the browser of a certain good ol' skate-site, let's get to the gallery and let's read again the archival material.
Which are the responsibilities, relying upon you in Absurd?
I'm involved into the boards-selling, conversation and chatting up with clients in all the country, selection of the orders, registration of the documents, sending of orders, giving of the staff to the team, and bluntly speaking the same team in Absurd. I've been following the riders, arranging the tours, working upon the publications and materials about the present and next projects.
How hard is for the national board-companies in the nowadays conditions? Is there in general a sense to get involved in all this?
This year was obviously the most difficult in the latest time. The rubles-falling and the prices-raising worded out. It was really harsh to get used to the fact, that right now a deck costs 3000 rubles, but you can't do nothing with that. The skating-business in our country is based upon a big wave of enthusiasm, and, by playing this game, you must be ready to this since the beginning. Obviously you can't pile up a fortune with this, but, at that time, it's possible to spend time in a good way. In general it's obviously interesting to write the story of the brand. To see the results, the realized projects, to hear the feedbacks, all this gets you hyped in keeping on the world, and the same our stuff, that's necessary.
As the team-manager of Vans Russia, just being sincere, how is really harsh to follow the entire team? Which big projects of the brand you've succeeded in realizing?
It's turned out, that after the Vitalik Kotov's abandon from the Russian office of Vans, they needed a consultant for the skateboarding-questions and the the choice has fallen to me. I've working with the team and I've been coordinating the skate-initiatives of the brand. An enough harmonious, balanced team was given me in heritage from Vitaliyk, the guys really know what they have to do, however sometimes it's better obviously to take the initiative by himself and to show the direction of the movement. Since the movement of the beginning of the work, I've made 3 skate-tours (Sochi, Sankt-Petersburg and Urals) and I've also arranged the release of the brand-promo. My biggest project is our recent tour around Urals. We've practically with all the team visited Ekaterinburg, Magnitogorsk and Ufa. Right now it's necessary to show the results of the tour to the skate-auditory.
What would you choose: a tour in a risky for tourists Northern Corea or a chilling time in the rich Dubai? How the comfort-conditions during the tours are important for you?
I was either in Northern Corea and in Dubai and I can say, that we've spent out more risky time in the first tour in Dubai in comparison to Northern Corea. Those, who was with me that time in the Emirates, will remember most probably about what I'm saying. The comfort isn't important, but it's kinda like traveling in comfort is certainly more comforting, than the surviving.
As an experienced traveller, just give some advices to the newcomers, who would like to see the world, but they get held back by uncertainty and other type of worry?
It's necessary to package the suitcases and go. It's easier to travel of what you're thinking. It's not necessary to fly on an airplane or a crossing a board of a ferry. It's possible to start off from the near city, the near city or even from the closest nature. The traveling is the best university. As it's said, traveling is the only thing, that by buyin up you become richer. The only thing or not, this is obviously controversial but for the richness is without any doubts true.
Thanks Kirill, I congratulate you on the jubilee! At the end, please, just answer at the question I'm just obliged to ask you: Skateboarding is a way to the social bottom?
It's kinda like it's like this, but, at least, it'll be funny for us through the way!