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Vlad Khadarin: solid style and energy to spare

Text Riccardo Zanirato

Video Dave di Ianni

Photo Dasha Nosova

 

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In the 2017 Big Air World Cup in Moscow, he wanted to emphasize that his physique is tougher than his attacks. If you missed it, watch the video. The young Russian athlete continues to grind out tricks and doesn’t seem to let go of any holds. In this short beginning of the season we have already seen him take off from the kickers in Stubai, but his talent and his desire to improve can only make us hope for the upcoming season.

Born in Russia, raised in Campiglio, tell us…who are you?

My name is Vlad Khadarin, I’m 22 years old, born and raised in Novosibirsk in Siberia (Russia). In 2012, when I was 14 years old, with the whole family we moved here in Italy to Como.

Snowboarding was already my favourite hobby that I practiced in my spare time in Russia, around Novosibirsk, and here in Italy I continued until I participated in a regional slopestyle competition in Abetone. I went down there accompanied by my Uncle Sergei, he and I alone, and I won, I didn’t speak Italian yet, it was a whole new world. At that race I met Davide “Bubu” Cecconi and the following weekend I was at Madonna di Campiglio with him. 

There I understood that I wanted to train with him more seriously and to snowboard 100%. So while I was in middle school in Como, I tried to go snowboarding every weekend with Bubu in Madonna di Campiglio. The more time I went by, more snowboarding became my only thought… until high school started and, under Davide’s tutelage who took me in ‘foster care’, my parents gave me permission to move to Campiglio. Mornings at school and afternoons on the slopes. In some ways it was a dream, but in the beginning it wasn’t easy living alone, but with time I got used to it – snowboarding gave me the strength to “hold on”. 

Continuing on my way, always with Bubu by my side, my riding level improved faster and faster. In 2015 I joined the Russian national team – a team I am still a part of. At that moment – with that “official” title of national team athlete for the first time I clearly understood that the possibility was opening for me to do what I loved full-time and take my passion to the next level. 

In the last 5 years snowboarding has given me so much: from my World Rookie Tour win, to World Cup wins, to participating in the 2018 Olympics… but also and most importantly the chance to meet new people, discover new places and have new experiences!

Today I am continuing to pursue my path as a rider, trying to become a full-fledged professional with determination and a smile. 

 

It’s already been five years since your first World Rookie Tour win, do you feel like a different rider? 

It’s amazing how my riding style has changed in five years.

When you are young you have a different approach. When you are a kid you just have fun, your family and your coach take care of you, but when you grow up the responsibilities are more and more on you and there are more issues to consider. Projects, expenses, transfers, calendar to follow… relationships with sponsors and media… 

The biggest difference is the head, and in the last 5 years my head has changed a lot! As a child, I was very stubborn – very instinctive – but fortunately, through various experiences and realities, I have become calmer and more reflective. And this ‘evolution’ of mine has helped me and still helps me even during competitions.

In addition to the “head” there is also the “body” which follows its own evolution: with time you begin to notice small details, to get to know yourself and by spending hundreds of hours on the board your body develops its own movements, automatisms – the movements are refined and the relationship between head and body becomes increasingly close, fast and precise.

Turning a thought into movement becomes first possible, then ‘easy’.

 

Is your style the result of innate talent or hard daily training?

Probably a mix. I train daily and am very focused on my goals, on technique and the athletic and sporty side. – But also on style! 

I have always admired and ‘studied’ how my favourite riders ride and still ride: Halldor, Stale, Torstein, Sage…. Each of them is completely different from the other, they all have their own signature trick, their own defined style. I tried, especially in the first years, to integrate small fragments “stolen” with my eyes into my own style, combining details in my own way, interpreting – thus creating something of my own: the style that I now feel more and more my own and defined. …. I believe that I am a talented rider who trains and works on his style every day!

The Freestyle Academy is like a big family for you, how important do you think the role of a coach is in the growth of a pro-rider?

You could say that! Without Freestyle Academy and Bubu I would not be who I am. As a rider but also as a person. It has always helped me to have a person by my side, someone I can really count on, someone I trust and listen to for all kinds of advice. Someone who knows me well, but really well. 

From the outside you only ever see the good and positive moments, but few know what it took to get to the results – training, failures, rebirths, even difficult decisions. 

In my case I am super happy to share the journey with Davide! Together we manage to do something extraordinary every time.

 

Your front side 1800 nose grab made history, can you describe this trick for us?

These emotions are indescribable! Because the trick doesn’t just contain 5 laps. It’s about how far you’ve come to get to the finish line, it’s about knowing that no one has ever done that trick before and so you don’t have a reference example to analyse, but above all it’s about the risk you’re taking at that moment. There’s no time to think, you just do it. So when you close it, in that precise moment in which the board touches the snow straight and perfectly, and in the millisecond in which you realise that you have it, that you have “closed” it, a rush of unforgettable emotions explodes over you!

In the moments that follow you think back to the past, you find it hard to believe in the present and you can’t imagine the future. – And it’s all a push to go on and push yourself further. 

 

How is your setup? How do you find it? Can you give us a little review of the board?

Most of the time I use a Nitro Beast 155, with Team Pro bindings (one white and one black because it looks cool) and Capital TLS boots. It’s a perfect setup for park riding. 

The Beast is stiff and responsive – it helps a lot with compression on big jumps. The base is extremely fast even in the most difficult weather conditions and it is very important to have the right speed on very technical or wide jumps. Precise in landing and has an excellent pop in the take-off…. And don’t forget the graphics – this season’s is the bomb! I’ve always liked that the design leaves room for free interpretation of your imagination. 

The Team Pro bindings are simple, precise and stiff enough. The Capital boots are the best place I’ve ever stepped on a snowboard! 

“Most of the time I use a Nitro Beast 155, with Team Pro bindings (one white and one black because it looks cool) and Capital TLS boots. It’s a perfect setup for park riding.”

You look super chill watching you ride even on the biggest jumps, is there anything that scares you?

From outside maybe I look calm but inside I fight demons, ahahaha!!!!

Fear in high-level snowboarding becomes a kind of friend that you have to hold off. When you’re learning something new, you have to get out of your comfort zone…. But you train yourself, even mentally, to do it. 

If we’re talking not of snowboarding, one thing that really scares me is staying underwater while surfing: those walls of water that can collapse on you at any time are terrifying!!!

 

What is the most Italian “thing” that you brought with you to the Russian national team? 

Sharing the duty and the pleasure! My compatriots tend to always go full throttle, often and willingly in any sphere – push yourself 100%. But this unfortunately leads to missing out on the beauty and poetry of what snowboarding is and how lucky we are to be able to live it. Snowboarding is not only spin to win, snowboarding is also two simple turns on the slops, and it took me a while to understand that too 😉 

 

Do you think there is still room to add another spin to your 1800? Or do you have other plans for the future?

After having done it in Stubai in mid-November, I feel that maybe now it is feasible to do something more… so yes, I think there is “space”… But there are still many other interesting things to learn… I have a world of tricks in my head to bring into reality! 

Given the current situation it is very difficult to plan any project in a traditional way. They are cancelling a lot of events and everything is very uncertain. I would love to try my skills in the backcountry – snow and mountains are there, ready to be discovered and raided! – I definitely won’t be stopping!

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