Over January 21-22, hundreds of Kharkivites dashed to Lisopark (Ukrainian: “Wooden park”), where there are two major city ski slopes, equipped with ski-lifts.
The reason for the riding craze was the first heavy snowfall and frost since the beginning of the winter season.
A 1.2-km long traffic jam stacked on the dirt road, leading from Belhorodske highway to the ski slopes Extreme Style and Kharkiv Switzerland. Some preferred to park their cars and walk across the wood with their families, friends and even little kids, having fun in the snow.
“It looks like a real snow hunger,” says skier Serhii Chezhanov. “It’s January 21 and more than half of the winter is over, and it has been raining all the time. It’s natural that people, who like active sports, are racing to the slopes to enjoy skiing and boarding, satisfying their need for extreme sports excitement.”
Winter sports have been popular in Kharkiv since the 1970s when the enthusiastic ski lovers equipped ski lifts in the neglected ravines in Lisopark. However, expensive gear, unstable snow and lack of skilled instructors made this activity only available for rare athletes. Snow cannons were installed from the beginning of the 2000s on four ski slopes in Kharkiv and its outskirts and a real boom in skiing and snowboarding started around that time.
Yesterday’s snow fever demonstrated Kharkivites’ addiction to winter sports. At the same time, some riders say it might show that not many people can afford to ski in Europe, Georgia or even in Western Ukraine, in Carpathians’ ski resorts, this year.
“Some of my friends skied in Bukovel a month ago,” says snowboarder Dmytro. “It was really expensive even comparing to Austrian resorts. So my wife and I might choose Austria or Poland for snowboarding when we save some money.”
Text, photo: Olena Sokolynska