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Surfing in the Arctic: The Murmansk Region Makes Waves with Inaugural Championships

WorldRussiaSurfing in the Arctic: The Murmansk Region Makes Waves with Inaugural Championships

When most people think of surfing, they envision sunny skies, warm beaches, and surfers cutting through the waves in swimsuits. However, the Murmansk Region in the Russian Arctic Zone offers a starkly different surfing experience.

With its sandy beaches, rare northern sun, and surfers braving frigid waters, the region established its own surfing federation in the autumn of 2023.


The Murmansk Region Surfing Championships, the first official competition of the new federation, took place in the remote village of Teriberka, proving that the Arctic is ready to make a splash in the surfing world.

Journey to Teriberka: A Challenge in Itself

Teriberka, a village located 120 kilometers from Murmansk, served as the venue for the inaugural Murmansk Region Surfing Championships. The journey to Teriberka is an adventure in itself, taking 2 to 3 hours by car, depending on the season and weather.

The only road to the village is often closed due to severe weather conditions, making any trip there unpredictable.

On the eve of the championships, May 21, 2023, the road was closed due to snow, wind, and zero visibility, putting the competition at risk. Fortunately, nature showed some mercy, and the road reopened just in time for the athletes to arrive.

The Unique Thrill of Arctic Surfing

“Surfing in Teriberka is always a challenge,” said Gleb Krysenkov, a surfer from St. Petersburg. “The very moment you step into the cold water carrying a board, having overcome all the hardships, you get a unique, incredible feeling.

Surfing and the Arctic combine perfectly well.” On the day of the championships, the water in Teriberka was relatively calm, with small, smooth waves and no wind—ideal conditions for surfing.


The water, saltier than in other parts of Russia, provided an additional challenge and thrill for the surfers. However, the conditions kept changing every ten minutes, demanding constant adjustments from the athletes.

Harsh Conditions, Exceptional Surfing

As the day progressed, grey clouds gathered, and athletes had to contend with not only the waves and wind but also snow.

Despite the calendar indicating that summer was just a week away, the air temperature hovered around zero degrees Celsius, and the water temperature was a chilly four degrees Celsius. These conditions, though harsh, are considered ideal by seasoned surfers.

“At this temperature, the water density is the highest, and professionals like dense water because you can gain more speed on it,” explained Eldar Kakurin, the Chief Referee of the Arctic Championships and a Russian surfing champion.

“The conditions for surfing here are among the best in Russia. We’ve waited long and delayed twice, but now everything is perfect.”

The Advantages of Teriberka

Teriberka, along with other spots in the Murmansk Region, offers several advantages for surfers. One significant advantage is its proximity to Moscow and St. Petersburg, just two hours by plane, compared to the far more distant Kamchatka.


Another is the polar day, when the sun does not set from late May to late July, allowing for round-the-clock surfing.

This unique feature enabled the Murmansk Region Surfing Championships’ qualifying stage to be held at night, a first in the history of Russian official competitions.

“You can surf round the clock—it’s fantastic,” said Kakurin. “It was the first time in my life that I judged competitions that started at 10 in the evening and finished after midnight. When we were done at about two-thirty in the morning, the sky cleared up, and there was an amazing glow, very beautiful.”

Competing in the Arctic: A Test of Endurance

The competition format was intense, with three or four athletes competing in 20-25 minute sessions. Only the top two surfers from each session advanced, leaving no room for mistakes.

Unlike ocean competitions where conditions may remain suitable for days, the Arctic’s surfable waves can last just a few hours, necessitating a fast-paced and high-stakes competition.

“The harsh conditions define straightforward conditions for athletes,” said Viktor Zvorykin, a local surfer from Murmansk. “Instead of swimming trunks and swimsuits, we wear warm wetsuits that cover the head and special gloves. The sea feels gentle; it’s not cold at all, just a bit tingly on the face.”

Year-Round Surfing Opportunities

Surfing in the Murmansk Region is possible year-round during forecast periods. Winter surfing takes place from October to December, spring from March to June, and even during the summer, although less frequently.

Local surfers have opened additional spots on the Rybachy Peninsula, but Teriberka was chosen for the regional championships due to its safety features, including a sandy bay and varying depths.

The Future of Arctic Surfing

The Murmansk Region Surfing Championships featured athletes from across Russia, including Kaliningrad, St. Petersburg, and Kamchatka.

While they did not compete for titles, their performances contributed to forming the Murmansk Region’s team for the Russian Championships in Vladivostok and Sochi in October.

The winners among men were Dmitry Tkachuk (gold), Alexander Konovalov (silver), and Viktor Zvorykin (bronze). Among women, Maria Klimova took the gold, Alyona Pyzhova the silver, and Anna Alexandrovskaya the bronze.

“It is very important for us that the regional surfing federation has developed, held official competitions, and formed a regional team,” said Victoria Proshkina, Vice President of the Russian Surfing Federation.

“The Murmansk Region has unique conditions for all surfing disciplines, and it could theoretically become a Russian surfing center.”

The Murmansk Region Surfing Federation is confident that the regional championships are just the beginning. The harsh Arctic conditions, far from being a deterrent, shape the character of real winners and offer a unique and thrilling surfing experience.

As the federation continues to grow and develop, the Arctic may soon become a key destination for surfers seeking a new and challenging environment.

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