''I don’t understand those who say we didn’t need to go to the Olympics''

Interview with the participant of the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics and Russian snowboard champion

''I don’t understand those who say we didn’t need to go to the Olympics''

Snowboard Big Air first appeared at the Olympic Games in Pyeongchang. Despite the relative novelty of this sport, the national team of Russia has people who are able to fight for the highest places. Anton Mamayev, champion of Russia and winner of World Snowboard Cup stages, who has recently visited the Extreme Weekend with Toyota in Kazan, is one of them. The exclusive interview of Anton Mamayev with Realnoe Vremya tells why he didn't succeed at the Olympics (the athlete finished only 16 th), how he joined this sport and how developed snowboard in Russia is.

''I wanted to at least reach the final at the Olympics''

How does it feel to be at the Olympic Games?

I have very strange and unclear feelings, in fact. The Olympiad itself was cool, the atmosphere around and inside the Games is fun – all was joyful, and, in general, quite comfortable. But the feelings about the competition and my performance aren't very good. All piled on top of one another. This is why it's unclear how to assess them.

Did you expect more from yourself?

I did! I wanted to at least reach the final and perform my tricks. I never think of places, but at the Olympic Games, I wanted to show all I can.

Toutant from Canada won the gold, though he hadn't stood out of the crowd. Why did he manage to win?

Half of the strong guys didn't even reach the final because the ramp was small. Another half fell in the final they had reached by qualification. It's sport, and right the Canadian was the best. Somebody fell, somebody couldn't show all his tricks…

Was the Canadian luckier?

You could say that (laughing).

The Olympiad itself was cool, the atmosphere around and inside the Games is fun – all was joyful, and, in general, quite comfortable. But the feelings from the competitions and my performance aren't very good.

Don't you regret that Russia didn't boycott the Olympics in the end?

I didn't think of it. I just rode. And once I was said that all was fine, I had an invitation, so I could go. Actually, I even don't understand people who say we didn't need to go and so on. I even didn't think of this topic, to be honest, because there wasn't special ''don't go, don't go'' around me. On the contrary, all supported me, told ''compete, don't think of anything, all will be good''.

''We ride for pleasure''

How does a snowboard season look? Tell in detail who the overall leader is, how many stages have left. There is almost nothing on this topic in Russian resources.

We don't have the guys who would try to compulsorily win the overall standings. In general, I ride just for pleasure, while sports results are like an accompanying moment. I think our sport doesn't have guys with another outlook, in general. Our every competition is important, there is no such thing as competing in all stages, even without being in the top 3, but fourth or fifth, and you simply won't have enough points to be at the summit in the total rating. Everybody always wants to win. This is why all people perform the best tricks that are possible in the conditions that every World Cup stage has.

What about the fight in the overall standings? Like to be in the top 10, top 3…

No, no, we don't have such a thing. Nobody pursues this, I think everybody just wants to be the best in every competition.

''We don't have the guys who would try to compulsorily win the overall standings. In general, I ride just for pleasure, while sports results are like an accompanying moment. I think our sport doesn't have guys with another outlook, in general.'' Photo: vistanews.ru

How is snowboard doing in Russia? What a level the infrastructure is at?

Let's say that everything is not very good for professional athletes. For instance, Russia doesn't have any big ramp. Russia has neither big air nor half-pipe nor slopestyle. There is something for half-pipe, but these ramps don't have either the necessary level or size. In the main, they aren't as good as we would wish. The only advantage Russia has is the Toyota Road Show, which is taking place across the country now, and the New Star Camp in Sochi. There is a ramp there, and the competitions are in excellent conditions. All is done for riders, which is pleasant. But in the first case, it lasted only for two days, the second – for 10 days. Russia doesn't have other possibilities to train. There are conditions only for beginners and middle-level riders.

Besides you, there are Khadarin, Sobolev who won World Cup stages, and others are quite successful guys. And, in general, how competitive is Russia in world snowboard?

Actually, it's very competitive. But again, as possibilities for training aren't big, this not always helps. For instance, you come to a competition and you have only two hours before competition to ride in the ramp, to try to perform the tricks you perform in usual conditions, while you don't have a chance to learn new ones. So you have to train abroad.

How are things with coaches in Russia?

Not very good because snowboard isn't as developed in Russia as we would like. Some coaches even don't want to learn. In general, Russia has just three coaches whose approach for training I like. They try to do something for guys, they try to develop themselves. But, in general, all isn't very good.

''Country's support? I don't know if it's done to tick the box or not''

What countries have leading positions in snowboard?

As we see, snowboard is an unpredictable sport. It doesn't have a recognised leader who wins always. Meanwhile, if we're talking about countries, Canada and Norway stand out. They are very strong. And probably the Americans, but I don't like very much how they ride. While the Canadians and Norwegians' tricks are diverse, and the style is fun, unique, so to speak.

Snowboard isn't as developed in Russia as we would like. Some coaches even don't want to learn. In general, Russia has just three coaches whose approach for training I like

Why do these countries hold the lead? Does the country support?

No. The guys in Norway, for instance, have parks for entertainment everywhere. Marcus Kleveland from Norway lives on a mountain. He has a huge ramp next to the house on which he can perform different tricks. The same thing is in Canada. Parks are everywhere, and guys ride where they want.

Does the country support you somehow?

There is something there… For instance, Sverdlovsk Oblast tries to help me by all means: to find some sponsors or something else. In general, I can say that the national team of Russian doesn't take us anywhere. They maybe don't have such a possibility, I don't know.

''I change 12 boards per season''

How did you join this sport?

To tell the truth, I didn't join this sport. I came to ride for myself, and this is how it began (laughing). Just because I liked it. All started with my brother who started to ride, and I came to a mountain with him. I was about 10 when, he says, I rode on a snowboard. I was interested what it was (laughing). I had my own board one year later. All happened gradually, I just I liked. Then we had a regional team. During a preparation on the mountain, a girl approached and asked whether we wanted to go to a competition. We were pessimistic first: like, what we would do there, we didn't know anything. In the end, everything was on the contrary. We went there, and I won the competition. I was on the national team of the country the following year. And everything turned out, developed so.

When did you understand you would dedicate your life to snowboard?

I didn't think of it, actually. I just ride. All connected somehow (laughing).

Who is your coach?

Sasha Kritsuk from Ekaterinburg. I not always can travel with him, of course. More precisely, he not always can travel with me. But I try to be with him always.

Do you often change boards?

Very often.

But it's an expensive pleasure.

Yes, I change some boards under guarantee, I buy some boards with the region on whose behalf I perform on. And I buy some myself. In general, I change 12 boards per season. At least last year I broke 12. This season (it starts in September), I've already broken eight.

''To tell the truth, I didn't join this sport. I came to ride for myself, and this is how it began. Just because I liked it''

''I can say I completely dedicate myself to snowboard''

What do you expect from the rest of the season? What do you plan in the next one?

The championship of Russia is ahead, I'd like to compete there well. Then I'd like to go for training to Sochi, compulsorily participate in the New Star Camp, Toyota Road Show and Big Air and ride for myself, have a rest from competitions, be with my friends and enjoy it all somehow.

Is the event in Kazan one of such moments of holiday and relax?

Yes, a chance to have a rest, wind down, look at others.

What do you do in summer in the off season?

I go to the mountains, ride a wakeboard, in other countries, of course. I can't do it in Russia now.

What else do you do except snowboarding?

I love to ride a bike, drive a car. I also talk with friends. That's all. I can say I completely dedicate myself to snowboard.

What about reading a book, listening to music?

I love the latter very much. I don't love books, but I like to read sometimes. Actually, there are moments when you want to read, take a book and enjoy. But it happens very rarely.

By Zulfat Shafigullin. Photo: Maksim Platonov