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Thursday, April 7, 2011
Photo gallery: Alex Kolesnikov in Italy

Alex Kolesnikov has risen above adversity in Russia to become one of Europe's best riders. Launch gallery »

When it comes to countries that ring a bell when FMX is mentioned, Russia is definitely NOT one of them. However, over the years, the world's largest country has mustered up enough talent to put them on the map and Alex Kolesnikov is leading the charge. Along his travels, Kolesnikov has made friends with Europe's best riders, so when the notoriously frigid weather becomes too much to handle, he loads up his bike and heads to Italy to visit Vanni Oddera, Alvaro Dal Farra, Massimo Bianconcini and the rest of the Daboot crew.

Our favorite Italian photographer Ricky Monti documented Kolesnikov's visit (much like he did Mike Metzger's last month), and even got an interesting interview to boot. Peep game.

Hey Alex, where are you from and how old are you?
Well, I'm 26-years-old and I was born in Kolomna City, Russia. I actually still live here -- it's about 100 kilometers from the capital city of Moscow.

So how old were you when you got into motocross and what was your first bike?
I got my first bike when I was 12-years-old and it was a Kawasaki KX80. Once I got that bike I started racing motocross all around Russia.

Alex Kolesnikov is a 26-years-old Russian badass. Recognize. Launch gallery »

How did you get into FMX?
When I was kid I rode BMX, but then I got into motocross and enduro racing once I got my first bike. I started riding freestyle motocross in 2005 and I have to say, it was one of the most challenging things I've had to learn. Believe it or not, I was the first kid in Russia to try tricks on a dirt bike and so I had no information about how tricks should be done. I didn't have any information about how to build ramps and landings, and I didn't know how big the standard jump was, so yeah, it was definitely a challenge!

I ended up building a metal ramp and it wasn't even close to the ramps we use today in Europe and America. But it worked and it was all I had so I used it. Also, so many people used to tell me, "Hey Alex, do you see how high the level of riding is in the other countries? It's not possible for you to get to that level in Russia." I understood what they were saying, but it actually made me try even harder! Every day I would watch videos with top riders throwing tricks and I'd I try to copy them and do the same tricks.

How is the FMX scene in Russia today?

Well, nowadays it's not too bad and it's getting better. There are seven riders who live in Moscow or near it. The better guys who are on the same level as me also sometime ride demos around Russia with me. Even though there aren't too many riders, I'm sure there are guys in other regions of the country who also love freestyle. Russia is a very huge country so it's hard to know what's going on and where.

Where do you ride? Do you have an FMX park?
Yeah, I have a park. It's located in Kolomna City, which is also where I live. It's a really cool place near the Oka river. As of now the park is really big and challenging. There are four landings with a lot of different ramps, dirt jumps, transfers and boxes -- it pretty much has everything we need to be competitive! There currently isn't a foam pit because it burnt down, but we're definitely looking forward to building a new one. Thanks to the support from my biggest sponsors -- Esta and Red Bull -- my park is getting bigger and better.

Usually we can ride from May to October, so that gives us about six months out of the year to ride. We can also ride in the wintertime, but we don't really do that too much because we have to use spiked tires for the snow and it's about ten degrees below zero, so we usually take a break in the winter.

Kolesnikov puts two sick tricks together to make one hell of a maneuver ... behold the almighty whip flip. Launch gallery »

What brings you to Italy?
This is my fifth time in Italy. I come here every year to visit to my friend Vanni Oddera in the spring time when the weather is bad in Russia. I love Italy -- it's a great feeling to be here. It's a beautiful country with awesome food and friendly people. Also, there are always big riders around and it's cool to ride with them.

We heard that you'll be having an event in Russia this year; can you tell us about that?
Yeah, the 2011 season is going to be very long and busy for me! Besides riding a lot of exhibitions around Russia and some of the IFMXF events, Red Bull and I are organizing a five-day freestyle motocross festival in my park. I hope to get riders of all different levels who just want to try freestyle so I can help them learn the ropes. It'll be like the Kolesnikov Rookie Invitational. (laughs)