Yura Kostiukevych is a Ukrainian but has been living in Seattle for the past 7 years. He is an extreme sports addict: snowboarding, skiing, rock climbing, mountaineering, kitesurfing, and downhill biking. He is a free ride snowboard athlete. He was prominent on the Ukrainian free ride scene (which is quite weak, to be frank), then he started participating in the Freeride World Qualifier competition tour upon moving to the United States. Meanwhile, he is climbing some big mountains, Denali is probably the most exciting out of successful climbs.
Here is Yura Kostiukevych in a conversation with GOGO Magazine.
1) How did your journey as an athlete began?
I was born close to the mountains, went skiing with my dad almost every weekend. At some point, I saw a ski racing competition, asked what that is and my father explained that there are certain rules and whoever is the fastest wins. The next time I participated in ones and won since I was pretty much the only kid in my age range!
2) When did you start doing freeride snow boarding professionally?
I was on the Ukrainian National Ski Racing team under 14 years old. That’s pretty much the start of my real career, which transitioned into snowboarding and free ride disciplines when I was bored with skiing.
3) Who has been your inspiration?
Travis Rice is my favorite athlete. His versatile skills and style are incredible!
4) What are the odds in extreme sports as a career option and how did you manage to fight those odds?
Back in Ukraine, where I was born, the snowboarding scene is not the strongest in the world. After reaching some advanced level, I’ve always been a kind of known kid in the game. However, once you go compete in North America or The Alps, that’s where you see the real world-class levels. I haven’t landed top spots in any of Freeride World Qualifier events in the states yet, but at the same time, I reached my strongest snowboarding levels only upon moving here.
5) What type of injuries have you faced during your adventures and how did you cope up with them?
Well, I’ve had quite a few small ones – problems with knee ligaments, several broken helmets… Surprisingly, my toughest concussion happened on a green family-run, almost without any speed. I made a very simple mistake, caught an edge and fell head down onto icy snow. I broke my helmet, lost consciousness for a few seconds, and couldn’t think clearly for almost 2 days. That’s like if a pro skydiver broke a bone falling from her bed.
6) Which has been your most memorable trek till now?
Freeride competitions give a lot of freedom but require athletes to plan their lines carefully. You have just one attempt, just one line on the face which you’ve never ridden before. After such immersive focus and pressure, I remember all my competition lines very well, almost up to every turn.
7) How has been your life changed after moving to America?
Surprisingly, I found that the world is much smaller and more flexible, despite the fact that I live in Seattle – the farthest major US city from my home country in Europe. That must be the combination of culture, opportunities in sports and business, and extra financial freedom I’ve got here.
8) Has your family been supportive of your career option?
Well, it’s very hard to earn money just doing freeride. Most athletes, myself included, have either other jobs or work as commercial freeride guides. My family is happy to see that I can combine my passion for making stable money on a different job.
9) How has life been on the other side of the sports and adventures?
Covid puts mental toll on people. Hope, we’ll get through it and get back to normal life soon!
10) Tell us more about Freeride World Qualifier competitions.
FWQ is an international tour with several competition tiers (1 to 4 stars), ultimately allowing the highest-ranking skiers and snowboarders to enter Freeride World Tour – the very elite tour for freeride athletes. It’s extremely hard to get to FWT, they have only 2 spots for snowboarders each year – one for the highest-ranking Qualified snowboarder in the Americas, another – in Eurasia and Oceania combined. I should repeat that: you must be the very best snowboarder in North and South America in a given year to get an invite to Freeride World Tour. 2 years ago I became #20 in the Americas and that’s my highest achievement in the tour so far.
11) Some snowboarding tips you would like to give to people.
Gradually push your limits and have fun!
12) How’s life in quarantine?
Sucks, but we’ll go through it!
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