After just 5 years learning to snowboard inside a giant refrigerator, Sonia Fedorova travelled to Pyeongchang to represent herself.
Back in April this year, we dropped down to Sölden to Audi Nines and had the raddest of times. Now, there are a few reasons why hitting up Audi Nines is always a good idea. Not only do they invite the best freeskiers and snowboarders in the world, build the most creative and unique freestyle course on the planet, but best of all, we also get to hang out with cool cats like Sonia Fedorova. Meet Sonia, a 19-year-old freestyle snowboarder from Russia, who started snowboarding 5 years ago by hiking a hill in Moscow and this year went to the Olympics to represent… herself.
Interview: Paula Viidu
Hey Sonia! What’s the lodown?
My name is Sonia, I’m from Russia and I’m 19 years old.
Where in Russia are you from?
I’m from Moscow but I don’t spend much time there because there’s not much snowboarding there, it’s very flat so when I snowboard in Russia I usually go to Sochi.
How far is that from Moscow?
It’s pretty far! If you wanna drive then it’s 24 hours of non-stop driving or a flight is 3 hours from Moscow, but it’s really nice there.
Damn Russia is big!
Yeah it is big. There’s another part of Russia with some nice mountains, it’s called Kamchatka, which is almost 10 hours by plane. It’s almost like going to South Korea haha so pretty far.
But you spend a lot of time travelling around the world for comps right?
Yeah I do, especially this season and the season before because I was qualifying for the Olympics so I’ve just been competing non-stop
Is there any difference between the snowboard scene in Russia and the rest of Europe or is it pretty much the same?
I think the level of riding is different. We don’t have many resorts or mountains and not too many snowparks with big jumps so the level is a bit lower.
Besides from Sochi and Kamchatka?
Yeah but even there, we don’t have really nice snowparks 24/7. It just happens once a year for some snowboard camp and just for like a week. For example the New Star Camp, it’s really nice but it’s just 10 days a year you know. So we’ve got some snowboarders but we just need more snowparks and better jumps.
So how did you first get into it living in Moscow?
It’s pretty funny, I started in an indoor snowpark. It’s basically a big fridge with some rails and that’s where I started. And then, there’s a little hill in Moscow with a jump so I was just hiking that hill and trying some tricks, like easy stuff…
How old were you then?
I was 14. But then I just started travelling because I had made it to the Russian Junior National team so started travelling for some World Cups or European Cups and that’s how I became a snowboarder haha, just during the competitions.
Wow, gnarly! What about the female scene in Russia, do you see lots of girls riding?
It’s more guys, just a few girls. And they’re mostly riding Russian competitions. I’m the only girl riding World Cup.
And the Olympics this winter! You were competing as an independent Olympic Athlete, right? What was that like?
I can’t really tell the difference because it was my first time, so I don’t really know how it would be with the Russian team and stuff, but it was nice. It was a good experience for me. Maybe next time I’ll represent my country.
Would you prefer that?
I guess that’s one of the cool things about the Olympics to get to represent your country?
I didn’t even get the pins, you know the pins that everybody gets at the Olympics with their country’s sign? I was pretty sad I didn’t have them, everybody was asking me for a pin and I couldn’t give it.
Was there a lot of athletes from Russia doing the same thing?
There were some snowboarders, but I was the only girl in freestyle.
So you were just there doing your own thing?
Yeah, I spent a long time there as well, because slopestyle was in the beginning and big air was in the end, so I was there for a whole month.
Yeah, it’s not actually that cold in Moscow, like once a year it gets really cold but usually it’s like -5 or -10 degrees, so for me Korea was really cold and windy. But I loved the people there, they were really friendly, always tried to help me with everything. Yeah it was a really good experience, my first time in Korea, I really liked it.
I’ve read that Jamie Anderson and Anna Gasser were your inspiration in snowboarding starting out. What’s it like now competing with them only a few years later?
There are of snowboarders that I like now, I don’t really have one favourite, I just like some things from different riders like certain tricks or style. Yeah 3 years ago I was looking at them as superstars, it’s crazy!
Is there camaraderie between the girls during comps?
We’re all together, we always see each other during the competitions so we’re friends now, like one big family.
What’s the significance of social media to you when it comes to snowboarding?
For me, social media is a good way to get money for snowboarding. As a female snowboarder from Russia, it’s pretty easy to get followers, because there aren’t that many female riders. I get a lot of attention in my country because I’m the only girl riding and people like it. And for me, it’s a really good way to travel, compete and train because the federation doesn’t give us much money. So I gotta make it work for myself.
Sounds like past couple of years have been pretty hectic for you. What’s coming up next season?
After these seasons competing, I’m pretty tired of it and I just wanna spend a year or two just training and snowboarding for myself. Maybe filming and stuff and after that, I will compete at the next Olympic Games.
Is that the goal?
It’s not a goal, more just like a plan. I just want to snowboard, maybe I’ll do some World Cup and some events like Air & Style. Mostly I just want to do more snowboarding and training and less competing. When you compete non stop, it’s hard to learn new tricks because you just got to ride the competitions and that’s tiring. I just wanna get some new tricks now.
And what about after that?
I don’t think about it, my life is crazy and everything changes so fast so I don’t even make long-term plans. Let’s just see what happens!
What would you say to girls starting out and dreaming of doing the same thing as you?
Do what you love. When I was younger, I used to be a gymnast and I didn’t ‘really like it and I wasn’t very good at it. Then I started snowboarding, loved it and I wanted to be good at it. So I think that’s my best advice, just do what you love because it’s important and good things will come.