Moscow’s metro system has recently become the scene of a new and deadly extreme sport – metro surfing. Teenagers jump on the back of trains and try to cling on for their lives as they video-tape the whole experience.
Believe it or not, metro surfing began as a desperate way of catching a ride during rush hour. The Moscow subway system is very crowded at this time and it’s close to impossible to get into the train, so young people started clinging to the back of it to reach their destination in time. Unfortunately, this desperate way of traveling somehow turned into a popular pass-time for teenagers looking for cheap thrills and internet fame. Metro surfers have now become such a common site that normal commuters hardly notice the crazy kids hanging on for their lives at the back of the train.
Wearing distinctive gloves, and sometimes clothes the same color as the metro to blend-in better, surfers wait on the platform the same as everyone else. Then, as the train leaves the station, they jump on the back of it and ride into the narrow tunnels, trying not to fall off. Most of them have cameras attached to their headgear to record the entire thing. They then post them on popular social media sites like Youtube or vkontakte (Russian version of Facebook), and brag among their friends. Even more alarming is that there are now groups of up to 2,000 members posting and commenting their metro surfing adventures online, and their numbers seems to be ever growing.
Photo by Caters News Agency
While metro surfers consider their antics to be the ultimate extreme experience, authorities claim those who practice the “sport” are literally inches away from death every time they jump on to a metro. The Moscow subway tunnels are extremely narrow, especially near stations, as they weren’t designed to have anything but the trains passing through them, and even a cat would have trouble fitting in the space between train and concrete. But the danger of broken limbs and even death doesn’t seem to be scaring away daredevils who seem hell-bent on ending up in an early grave. Some of them have taken the surfing part literally and began climbing on the train to actually ride it, which is even more dangerous. Viktor Vartanyan and Ivan Mikirtumov, two 19-year-old university students recently died metro surfing and evidence indicates they both smashed into a low tunnel entrance while metro surfing.
The fine for being caught metro surfing is only 100 Russian rubles ($3.5), and Moscow metro surfers consider it worth the risk, for a chance at Internet stardom. They’re aware of the dangers as well, but most of them think it’s so fun the risks are justified.