Weekend Warm-Up: Druschba

Druschba — more commonly spelt Druzhba – is the Russian word for friendship. This 13-minute film features freeskiers Felix Weimers and Neil Williman and photographer Max Kroneck. Guided by Matthias Andra, they ski the northern extremity of Russia’s Ural Mountains in what evolves into part adventure, part boys’ weekend — druzhba, get it?

They travel more than 40 hours by train from Moscow to Vorkuta, a former coal-mining town north of the Arctic Circle. From Vorkuta, after a spot of night skiing, they join six Russian “slednecks” for a further six-hour snowmobile ride to the foot of the Urals.

Skiing the Urals. Photo: El-Flamingo.de


Based in a hostel made from an old train carriage, the group sets out to find new experiences on slopes rarely, if ever, skied. In true Russian fashion, copious amounts of vodka enhance male bonding.

“The slednecks really liked it when we drank with them at lunchtime,” says Neil Williman. “That was important for developing a bond with these guys.”

Including a pretty cool soundtrack, the film allows us to experience a remote and exotic culture at the very border between Europe and Asia. The skiing is pretty special too.