Monday, 16 January 2012

Skiing in Izmaylovsky Park

I am a keen cross-country skier.

It sometimes surprises non-Australians when they learn that we have extensive winter snow-fields downunder. It is possible to ski for days with a back-pack in remote wilderness, staying overnight either in a tent or a rustic stockman's hut.

I had hoped to cross-country ski around Moscow. After all, there is plenty of snow. It is surprising, though, how difficult it is to find information about local skiing opportunities, either in guidebooks or on the internet.

So for other cross-country skiers who may be wondering ahead of a trip to Moscow - don't worry. There are plenty of large parks in which to ski just a few metro stations from the city centre.

Today I took the metro to Ismaylovsky Park, just six stations from the centre of Moscow. Just before arriving at Ismaylovskaya Station, the train emerges from its tunnel and the birch forests of the park appear on the right.

This park is, I understand, about 15 square kilometres in size. It was inaugurated in the 1930s, when it was known as Stalin Park. In the 1950s it was renamed after the 14th century boyar (aristocratic) family who owned the nearby village.

The better known (to tourists) Ismaylova Markets are on the edge of the park (one gets off a station earlier - at Partisanskaya - to access the markets). I actually don't like the markets much - I think they are a bit tacky.

Anyway, that's enough text. Here are today's photographs, hot off the SD card:

Getting away from it all just a few kilometres from Red Square
Lebedyensky Lake looking back towards high rise at Ismalovskaya
Perhaps a little chilly for using the swings today
I can't say I've ever encountered prams while skiing in the Australian Snowy Mountains.
Off the Metro and on to the snow. Couldn't be better.
Follow this link to see the location of Izmailovsky Park on Google Maps


  1. Geoff from Burwood31 January 2012 at 09:12

    Hi Colin,

    As you know I have been following your blogs since your arrival in Moscow and today I have just seen your latest re Ismaylovsky Park.

    The reports in the Herald Sun have indicated that there has not been a lot of snow to date.Perhaps I should send them copies of your latest photos. As usual they are of a very high standard. We feel that we are getting a good idea of your life in Moscow.kepp up the good work.

  2. Geoff, thanks for reading the blog.
    After a bleak and overcast November/December, we have had clear blue skies for the last couple of weeks. Of course, this has caused the temperature to drop and it has gone from being merely cold to frigid.
    The clear skies (lovely as they are) also mean we have had no snow for some time.
    I haven't been through any previous Moscow winters for comparison, but I don't feel there was a great deal of snow even when it was overcast (and there was also rain in December, which washed a lot of what had fallen away). In general, I wouldn't say the snow is more than half a metre thick even in the forest parks - if you have a closer look at the pictures, you'll see its not very deep.
    Around the city, many of the main thouroughfares have been completely cleared of snow

  3. I am thoroughly enjoying seeing Moscow through your eyes and comments. First time I have seen 4 females pushing prams through a park in snow. The supermarkets (some) run rings around Big W. Interested to know did you have to get permission to photograph these. Are the Babooshkas [?] "old ladies" as colourfully dressed as the ones Wendy sent me or as we have seen in Rome all in black with head scarves. Loved your description of the "Mafia". Everyone of your "Blogs" has been of great interest to us and feel we are having a really great trip visiting all these places.

  4. Thanks for the comment, June. Babooshka actually means grandmother, but its a word that we use loosely at times to refer to older women (who usually are babooshkas). No one dresses brightly in Moscow, at least in the winter. Its drab all the way.
    Yes, the prams in the snow were an unexpected encounter while skiing, but if a woman wants to take a walk in the park with baby, there's not much option at the moment. I went ice skating today and saw a young woman pushing a stroller as she was skating.

  5. Hello friend,

    thank you for the time you put into these blogs/posts, I have just come across it (and now happen to be staying for at least a few years literally right across the road from this park), and I really appreciate your input!

    a Canadian who was born in Moscow but lived in Canada his whole life and now has moved back to Moscow due to 13% flat tax, and useful application of fluent English and Russian in my career.
    All the best!

  6. Nice blog !! I've been in Moscow for a few months and have seen many Muscovites enjoying their weekends skiing around in the parks. As a newcomer with no skiing experience I was wondering if you learnt to ski here ? If you did do you know of any good cross country ski instructors in the Moscow who can speak English ? Thanks if you can help !! :-)

    1. Hi Graham, thanks for the kind word about the blog. I'd been skiing in Australia for nearly 40 years, often back country overnight trips carrying a pretty heavy pack, so no, I didn't learn here.
      Basic cross country skiing is mainly a matter of perseverance and practice. Its really only when you start tackling more difficult downhill techniques, such as telemarks, that you'd need advice on technique.
      Its pretty flat around the Moscow parks so you can't get into trouble flying off down a hill. So I'd suggest you save yourself the $ on a teacher, buy a pair of skis, head out to Sokolniki Park, watch what the other skiers are doing and just go for it.