My name is Vitaly Yakutenko, and I’m a data analyst/data engineer/data scientist. Currently, I’m remotely working for a New York startup called as a Senior Data Analyst Consultant, and I am also studying Data Science at the University of Melbourne, Australia. I grew up in the 1990s when personal computers were just becoming widespread, and I was intrigued by doing things on computers. So, I started coding when I was studying at school — I loved it and decided to pursue a career in the software development field. Later, when I got my first job, I also realised that I love not just coding, but I love to apply technical skills to automating business problems/processes under conditions of competing tasks. This all led me towards working with data. In 2017, I applied for a Data Science Degree at the University of Melbourne, and I came again to live in Australia in early 2018.

Outside of my job, I love active travelling and doing extreme sports like snowboarding or windsurfing in new places. During the winter season, I go snowboarding; then in summer, I go windsurfing. I tend to go on a 1-2 week trip at least 2-4 times per year. It depends on my workload on projects I participate in and how much money I can make in a particular year. I have also enjoyed several surfing trips where I learned surfing, but I’m still a novice in this sport.

Sports like snowboarding or surfing appealed to me from my teens, but I couldn’t afford them before I started my professional career back in 2008. Around that time, I bought my first snowboarding gear and experienced snowboarding for the first time in Moscow. Meanwhile, windsurfing was kind of an unexpected discovery for me when I went on a trip to Dahab in Egypt in 2012. Dahab wound up to be a famous windsurfing spot with perfect conditions for beginners and that’s when my interest expanded to windsurfing. However, snowboarding is still my favourite.

I started going snowboarding before the other disciplines and have achieved the biggest progress among all of them. Each of my trips have yielded tangible progress and I could ride black slopes after some time with confidence. Then, I could start working on more fancy stuff like freeriding, snowparking or carving. There have always been skills to learn and challenges to face. When you hone your skills, you can ride the steepest slopes in the ski region with ease or make a backcountry off-piste ride on fresh powder snow with local guides.

What I love about snowboarding is that when you wind up on the slope in the mountains, you can see absolutely fantastic scenery around you. Views of the surrounding terrain are always breathtaking and scenic. For example, you can ride above the clouds under the sun or among snow-covered trees after a snowfall. Another astonishing contrast that I like is green valleys that you can see from the snowy slopes in the spring.

The best place I’ve gone snowboarding is the Ski-region Three Valleys in France. It includes 600 km of prepared slopes and a lot of opportunities for freeriding. You can ride new slopes each day for the whole week and visit such iconic places as Val Thorens, Les Menuires, Meribel, or Courchevel. For windsurfing then, Dahab is a really nice place to go. There are 3 zones for different levels of ability: Laguna for beginners, Speedy Zone for Intermediate riders, and Kamikadze Zone for Experts.

I love to participate in Extreme Sports because of the feeling that you can deal with natural phenomena, such as wind or gravitation, and you can harness those forces to gain high speed. Sometimes, you need to overcome your fears but it makes you a stronger person. After some training, you can maintain your speed as well as direction and feel in full control even if you ride at a high speed. You can even feel excited about the feeling of weightlessness if you get into the air on your snowboard. When you first start, you just work hard and feel happy if you just can slide down the slope without falling.  No matter what you get such an adrenaline rush.

Snowboarding and windsurfing are definitely good outlets for me. They are both fun and a great experience for me. You always meet passionate people when you go on trips and make friends with them. Overall, this experience allows me to relax, recharge my batteries, and enhances the quality of my life. I also think Extreme Sports has been a benefit to my technological career. They help you to develop qualities such as confidence, perseverance, and focus. That helps you when you deal with challenging tasks at your workplace. The more you can do outside of your work, the more you believe in your abilities to solve non-standard problems.

My advice to those who wish to take up Extreme Sports is to mentally be prepared to work hard. Also, you should be in good shape if you want to ride for the whole day. If you are a novice, there is no special requirement to try snowboarding or windsurfing. Being in good shape will help you to progress faster. Take a class with an instructor and then practice yourself. Take more classes whenever you feel you need a help. Practice more and you’ll gradually improve your skills. And never give up.

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