Number of active players: ~2500
Notable beach tournaments: Piter’s Challenge, Beach National Championship
Past participation in beach championships: WCBU 2011 (Mixed)
Division participation at ECBU 2013: Open, Women, Mixed, Open Masters
The history of Russian beach ultimate can be traced back to the year 2003, when players from the team Bivni discovered a beautiful beach in the center of Nizhny Novgorod, where they decided to hold the first beach hat tournament, Exstaz. After three years of success, the same organizers tried a new idea. In 2006, they founded the Volgotropick tournament, which had a unique format: two teams, black and white played each other for 24-hours non-stop, each with more than 40 players. Tournament attendees appreciated the unique experience of being able to play exactly when and how much they wanted. At the end of the day the score was about 420 to 510.
The Russians were also very envious of their bordermates the Ukrainians, who started to organize the Kiev Hat in 2005 (where many Russian players participated), so they aimed to found something similar in Russia. Sometime later, organizers from Saint Petersburg Ultimate found a spot on the Gulf of Finland named Solnechnoe, where the first official tournament was held 2007 – and still continues to this day. In 2008, Russia held the first Russian National Championship in the Nizhny Novgorod region, on a beautiful beach island on the river Oka, with three divisions of more than ten teams.
It’s not a secret that the weather in Russia distinguishes this cold nation from most other ultimate-playing countries, and players have to spend at least 6 months playing indoors. However, when there’s a will, there’s a way: in 2011, in the middle of Russian winter, the first indoor beach hat tournament was held in Saint Petersburg. The first Russian team started playing beach tournaments 7 years ago, but never practiced on sand until a few years ago. Unfortunately, there is only one available spot to play on sand in the Moscow region, and players are able to go there only on non-tournament weekends, so Moscow teams usually never practice on a beach. Saint Petersburg players have more luck, having a variety of options. Despite these hardships, Russian players love to play on the beach and every year lots of players travel to Rimini to play Paganello, Kiev Hat in Kiev, Jurmalas Bite in Latvia, Burla Beach Cup in Italy, Bibione in Italy and now BUM in Berlin.
Russia is well-represented at ECBU 2013 with four different teams:
JuPiter from St. Petersburg has won all the main tournaments during the last year both on the grass, beach and indoor so they were chosen to be base of the roster for the national open team for ECBU. There were about 30 players at tryouts for the team in February. Endurance, speed, teamwork were taken into account first of all.
The guys have been playing Paganello for the last 4 years but have never brought their best roster, so they can certainly be considered one of the dark horses in the Open division. With Ilya Dannenberg’s huge layouts and big plays and with a tremendous young player Danila Petrov who is everywhere on the field with his speed and endurance, they most definitely look strong enough to compete with the top teams. Team’s captain Nikolay Nikolaev was awarded the most valuable player prize more than twice during the last year. On defense, keep an eye on the tireless Pasha Averin as well.
Made up of the best players in the country, the women’s national team is as strong as ever. Most of the players come from Cosmic Girls, who are well-known in Europe and who are Russian national champions. The girls had trainings on sand fields during the indoor season and made it to the finals at Paganello this year with a win over American team Bullseye, predominantly made up of players from Seattle Riot.
Fans should watch out for the beautiful hucks of Sasha Pustovaya (voted Russia’s best handler by Discore Magazine) and the midfield work of Lisa Grebenschikova, Natasha Mashyanova and Olga Kochenova. Team captain Anna Pustovaya is also ready to make an impact on defense after recovering from an injury.
Two-time Paganello champions Made in USSR were the natural choice to represent Russia at ECBU. “No step back, no step on the ground, only forward, and only all together!” – these words written on their sleeves say everything about the team’s chemistry on and off the field.
Team captain Toly Vasilyev is an agglomeration of all things any good ultimate player needs: talent, energy and experience. He played in Europe and in Canada for a couple of years and has brought all the international experience and strategy back to his team. Some of the players don’t currently live in Russia, but all of them have Soviet roots, so don’t be surprised to see Yelena Gorlin from Fury cutting to score for this squad.
It’s difficult to highlight particular women, because all of them are athletic and skilled. Watch out for the creative throws of Nastya Parfenchikova and Marina Sevalkina and the endzone work of Inga Ivakina and Olga Chinina. The same is true about the men. Fans should note the great field vision and decision making by Anton Butikov and Sergey Bondarenko, who are also great defenders, and the deep cuts by the nearly unstoppable Anton Kisliy and Egor Naumov.
Ultimate was brought to Russia in 1989, and most of the players are still fairly young. Because of this, the Russian Open Masters team has only 12 players in its roster. Russia had a team in Open Masters division at Worlds in 2004 but ECBU 2013 will be the first appearance at a big tournament with a special preparation. They played two tournaments in June: Piter’s Challenge and Jurmalas Bite.
The patience of Dmitry Fakeev on offense and the passion of Dmitry Podolskiy on defense will definitely work for the team success.
By Elena Motorina and Tanny Ponomareva (Discore Magazine)