Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! (Well, better late than never.)
Besides, yesterday (Saturday January 7) was in fact the official Russian Orthodox Christmas. Russians tend to celebrate the entire couple of weeks between Western Christmas and Orthodox Christmas as a single holiday season, including New Year which is the big holiday of the year.
Anyhow, I saw this cute story in Komsomolka, this strange event happened just yesterday, and combines elements of my two favorite things: Snegurochka and skiing!
For those not in the know: the Russian cultural space celebrates, instead of Santa Claus, a different fellow named “Grandfather Frost” (Russian Дед Мороз – Ded Moroz), who delivers presents and treats to children on New Year’s Eve. Almost always accompanied by his assistant, Snegurochka, the Snow Maiden, who usually dresses in a blue outfit, complete with elaborate head gear. Grandfather Frost can dress in blue, or red, or whatever he damn pleases. But his costume must always include a long white beard and his magical staff. The staff is the instrument by which he touches the tips of trees and turns them frosty, signalling the start of winter.
So, this year, apparently, Grandfather Frost decided to dispense with his usual sleigh, pulled by a troika of reindeers. Instead, he touched down (literally) at the Siberian ski resort of Sheregesh. Skiiers and snowboarders were treated to the spectacle of Grandfather Frost and Snegurochka descending the ski slopes in a paraplane!
It all looks highly dangerous! Check out the video, Grandfather Frost (on a snowboard) and Snow Maiden (on skis) flew for a time at 650 meters over the slopes! Anything went wrong, if they had made contact with a tree branch – ouch! Actually, the flying part was not so bad, it was the touch-down and landing that I was more worried about. As somebody who had to cover my cowardly eyes while watching the Eddie The Eagle movie.
The Back Story
So, Alexander Orlov from Novosibirsk is a daredevil (Russian word is “extremal”) who is well known locally for his various stunts. This year he decided to don the “Grandfather Frost” costume and try the stunt with a paraplane. The most difficult part: Finding a girl willing to risk her life in the role of Snegurochka. Orlov put the word out on social media and began to screen candidates. There were not many. In the end he found only one girl who was both beautiful, healthy, and foolhardy at the same time: Anna Bezuglova. Anna is a model from Krasnoyarsk, who was currently employed at the Sheregesh resort. She was a perfect choice, except for two things:
(1) Anna had never before in her life flown on a paraplane; and
(2) Despite her job at the resort, Anna had never before in her life been on a pair of skis!
In addition to Alexander and Anna, there is a third (unseen) person on the paraplane: the photographer. This girl is not named, but is said to be one of the “candidate Snegurochkas” who didn’t make the cut!
The three adventurers ascended the mountain on the ski lift. At the summit they put together the equipment and harnesses, donned their costumes, and then proceeded to fly down the slopes. As they flew, Alexander did his shtick with the magic wand, turning all the trees to frost, while Anna called out greetings to the skiiers and snowboarders below.
Enjoy the video, it’s pretty cool! And yes, they nail their landing, and everyone is okay, so don’t worry.