In the day and age of hyperclear digital maps, ceaseless global connectivity and international rapid transit systems, it's becoming harder and harder to find untold skiing stories in exotic locales. Sometimes though, you get lucky and stumble upon a story so rich, that the skiing is simply the bonus. Such is the case with Episode 4 of Salomon Freeski TV and the adventure to Russia. Kaj Zackrisson, Mark Abma, and Mike Douglas visited Arkhyz Gosdacha, a mountain retreat located in a remote river valley on the north side of Russia's Caucasus Mountains, that was built for the leaders of the Soviet Union during the Cold War. There they found some of the best undiscovered heli-skiing on the planet. With Russia's history of seclusion from North America, here are some interesting facts about a country you might not know too well.
-There are only 17 ski areas in the largest country in the world. If you wanted to road trip from Ohta Park ski area in St. Petersburg to Snegorka ski area in Magadan, it would take you six and half days of driving to get there.
-The racial classification term, "Caucasian" is rooted in the people of the Caucasus Mountains in Russia. It is an incorrect anthropological and racial classification origination by the German philosopher Christoph Meiners in 1785.
-The dormant volcano, Mt. Elbrus, situated in central Caucasus, is the highest peak in all of Europe standing at 18,510 feet.
-I once met Maria Sharapova's dad on a chairlift while skiing at Krasnaya Polyana. Claim.
-The Caucasus Mountains are widely considered the geographic, symbolic and ethnographic divider between Europe and Asia.
-No Russian man has ever won a World Cup ski race. Note: There were five wins recorded by the Soviet Union.