Szczepan Karpiel Bulecka and his sw 5 nose mute Alexey Shabanov

Event News


novel comp format from kazakhstan

Gorilla Winter Jungle Recap

By: Adam Herman April 11, 2024

As most European resorts struggled to keep open for the closing weekend last week. Shymbulak, all the way in Kazakhstan, has hosted one of the most interesting freeski events we’ve seen in a while – the seventh iteration of Gorilla Winter Jungle.

If you haven’t heard about the place yet, I forgive you. Shymbulak is a bit off the average park rat’s radar, but I got a feeling that’s about to change soon. Conveniently situated right on the edge of the massive mountain range of Tien Shan, not even an hour away from an international airport in Almaty, Kazakhstan’s biggest city. The 70-year-old resort is home to Gorilla Chimba Park with 6 platforms a rope tow and probably definitely the best rainbow I’ve ridden all season. Sitting at 3200m it stays open well into May.

That’s not where GWJ took place though, the 7th year of the biggest freeski event in Central Asia moved to the Shymbulak base this year. With a Big Air Kicker, street-style jib setup and a Ski Jungle Cross course built just for the occasion. The village also put up a hot-air ballon, beerpong tables, popup shops, bars and two music stages that kept the tourists (and me) entertained throughout the 2-day event.

The amateur contests started on a beautiful Saturday, with perfect slushy conditions for the big-air jump – really comfy, not-actually-that-big step down with an infinite landing. The participating riders were mostly locals, Russians, and local Russians, who’d moved here recently because of politics or something. The prize money was quite large (350k tenge, 730€) for an am§ contest and @mik_zykh took the W with a dub 10 and a switch 7. Couple beers later and Andrey Anufriev is giving out thousands of tenge for flips over the stairs on the jib setup with the (very welcome) makeshift ropetow. The first day closed out with a jungle cross qualis as the rain-then-snow rolled in and the concerts got postponed on to Sunday.

Which started off looking like a classic comp day, but the skies opened up minutes before the star of the show – the Battle. Taking place on the kicker it’s a novel concept for a ski contest. The 8 invited riders go head to head advancing up a bracket. Each round consists of a tech trick and a style trick (under 540). The better trick gets a point with a tie-break in case of a draw after two jumps. To spice things up, the riders get a Joker card to use once during the contest before a single jump. There’s three types – Choose The Grab, Spin Control and Knucle Huck. When any of these are used, both riders have to comply – do the grab, spin under the selected angle or hit the knuckle. These proved to be quite useful when used e. g. Maksim setting a screamin’ grab for Szczepan or Andrey using spin control to have a chance on the tech trick against Vince.

Recap highlight reel Video by Ivan Novikov

Overall, the contest felt like a mini SLVSH Cup in all the good ways. Flowed nicely and was engaging to watch. Definitely want to see more of this in the future. Maksim Senkevich won by a hair against Vince Mahravo in the finals with a dub misty 10 against Vince’s sw dub 10 in the third round. And Szczepan Bulecka got the 3rd place in the consolidation round against Andrey with his signature sw 5 tweaked nose-mute and a switch 10 tail.

1. Luca Pichler with a 5 mute Nikita Kliukvin
2. Maksim and the sun Nikita Kliukvin
1. Bernd Hager blunting Nikita Kliukvin
2. Andrey's signature Nikita Kliukvin
1. Szczepan, Maksime & Vince on the podium Alexey Ovechkin
2. Lovanda Nikita Kliukvin