YoBETA: Bulgaria with Kareem el Rafie

When you’re a Swede named Kareem, snowboard-logic would certainly surmise Marc Franc Montoya’s style should live on through you. And we’re soul-happy to inform you that this character is holding the yo-torch high! But there’s much more to Kareem El Rafie than meets the eye. When not rocking Organic Clothing on the streets of the world, Kareem peddles Sweden’s finest fish, beef and vegan tacos on the streets of Stockholm from LaOlita, sending positive vibes from park box to mega booter with the finest melting pot of style! AND since he lives in Sweden, his cross-cultural love of all things awesome doesn’t actually offend anyone. He joined up with the crew of Soft Impact for the Bulgaria leg of the trip, and we asked him to TELL US MORE about existing as himself in Sophia. 

Follow Kareem on INSTAGRAM HERE

Organic Stalefish at Ski Center Kartala. Photo: Niko Plakov

What was your favorite thing to drink in Bulgaria?
Bulgarian beer is pretty dope!

Best food you ate? Grossest thing on the menu you definitely didn’t order?
Bulgarian food is suprisingly good! High quality ingredients with simple but delicious dishes! My favorite was for sure their Pumkin soup! Didn’t really remember any disasters foodwise, except maybe a bad kebab here or there…

Best technique for hooking up with a sexy member of the same or opposite sex?
Best pickup line I learned was “Kaksi Mazdka” which translates (kind of) to, “how U doing Hottie?”

Best place to stay?

Best place to stay is for sure at the “mayor of Bulgaria” Niko Plakov‘s Crib in Sofia! Best of times and homie got all the resorts in Bulgaria on lock and the streets as well!

Most useful second language?

That would probably be English or Serbian. I went with English haha

Follow Kareem on INSTAGRAM HERE

Click on the Images below to SEE them in their full glory and READ mini Travel Guides for each location, as told by the riders themselves.

NIls Arvidsson


Nils in Sweden Mihaj





Trash League in Bulgaria

Some people go on snowboard trips to ride epic peaks and bottomless pow. Other people go half way across the world to slide around on wood and plastic. Hey, whatever floats your boat.

Snowboarding: Mike Chmil and Mark Goodall

Midget Gangster Boarding!

The Ninja Squad from Bulgaria is really stepping up their game. Yes, they could lose the first minute or so of tube footage, but if you make it past that, there’s a midget gangster and then some footy of Jeffy Gabrick at Trollhaugen. You know you love Trollhaugen.

Slav Vitanov x Stinky Socks – fall / winter 2013

Slav Vitanov is one of those type of artists that either love working with you or does not pay any attention to you at all. There is nothing in the world that could make him do something that he is not passionate about or not inspired of. That’s why we feel blessed that our paths crossed and he was inspired by Stinky to create those awesome illustrations that took part of our Fall / Winter 2013 packages.

Thank you Slav for being you!

The Global Park Report

If there’s one thing that unites snowboarders around the globe, it’s park laps. Doesn’t matter what language you speak or if you think seaweed is good food or not, riding park is fun. Since we obviously LOVE park videos (and know you do too) here’s a round up of some of the more exotic park videos we’ve received lately.

We’ll start our tour at Rolga, Slovenia. Slovenia is in the middle of Europe, tucked between Italy and the Adriadic Sea. And it’s spring there!

A bit further east we find the Ninja Squad, Bulgaria’s answer to the tight pants/ ironic trick movement.

Skip over Sibera and all that junk and you get to Japan. Lately Japan has been the source of bad news, but Nikita girls Alice Gong and Gabby Maiden seem to be making the best of it.

And finally, jump over the Pacific Ocean and you come to a foreign land called Canada. In the middle of Canada, you’ll find Banff, and on one of the few sunny days this season, the Cheyenne Social club took some park laps of themselves.

Behind the Shot: Alexander Atanasov

Eastern Europeans really seem to know how to pump out shots that have what it takes to make it to the Firing Squad Champions gallery. Last week, we inducted another foreigner in Alexander Atanasov. However, we though maybe he’d been kidnapped when we didn’t hear back right away. It’s dangerous over there, right? As it turns out, Alexander had a better excuse. “Our internet supplies went dry and the government summoned the UN for assistance as things were going out of control. Now we have a regime – 5 minutes per person twice a week — what do I do first — check my facebook or twitter 20k images. Nah bullshit. It’s 10 minutes 3 times a week.” Now that everything is back under control in Bulgaria, here’s a little bit more info about our latest Champions Gallery inductee.

Tell me about this shot. Who is the rider, when and where was it taken?

It’s the young, very talented and all around nice person Lozyo Dimitrov, a local Ashbury am, doing a fs wallride on the support columns of an overpass on 9th February 2010. It was a pretty warm day after a week of minus 20 Celsius and was our last chance to hit this place. We went for a double kink but ended up doing the columns of the overpass as a wallride. It was a sketchy feature and snow was pretty slow and melting fast. You needed a lot of speed to get across the columns and not fall between them and at the same time get as high as possible for a legit photo. We pulled it off good though.

What’s the camera/flash set up you used to take it?

Just a 5d with a 15mm fisheye. No strobes, just natural light, as much as there is in the shade of a bridge.
Once I started setting up my flashes I realized all my batteries were drained dry. We were shooting the whole night before at minus 20 tryin to make use of the snow and the cold must have drained them. There was no time to get new once so I just improvised. I noticed the lines on the ceiling and how they merged with the columns.

If you took this shot again, is there anything you would change?

This one has to be one of my favorite shots of last season and in general. I really like plain black and white graphical images. Im pretty pleased how it came out in the end. I had an exhibition about a month ago and this was one of the highlights. It’s pretty impressive once you see it printed on 150cmx100cm.

What was your favorite moment during your time in the Firing Squad? Any especially retarded comments you’d like to call out?

Nah nothing special. I’m pretty used to reading all sorts of bullshit from all kinds of forum gangsters/photographers/snowboarders so it has to be something very special to win me. I liked the google translation though. I thought America was gonna go crazy to try to defend it’s children against the ex commie wannabe.

What’s the snowboard scene like in Bulgaria?

Well it’s a small scene. Far from the level and possibilities you’ve got over there, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing at all. Its pretty exciting to be here now. Everything is still pretty pure. There’s no big money involved and people are doing it for the fun and love of it. We’re still discovering shit you’ve done ten years ago — but that’s what’s good about it — its fresh and new and we’re having as much fun as possible. We’re still late on the triple corks but we’ve got a couple of haldors that kill in urban surroundings and could step on many peoples toes..

You can check Rene Eckert’s video about Bulgaria which he shot last season here — In Equilibrium at

What is your background — how long have you been shooting, what do you shoot the most, etc?

Its been 5-6 years now that ive been dslr-ing. A bit more if you count cheap digicams. Got into it coz none of my friends was willing to sit in the snow and push buttons, while the others were disco handing and Michael Jackson-ing. There’s been progress since then both in my ball freezing experiences and their high five-ing the air.

I shoot snowboarding gladly and skateboarding from time to time. I like long exposures, sunspots, light leaks and female curves. I like powder on bluebird weekday and a first chair. I enjoy playing with timelapses and crappy collages as well. Iv’e been shooting a lot of film lately mostly experimenting with old Russian cameras — middleformats, panoramas, halfframes, 35s in a middle format and a lot of cross processing.

Anything you’d like to share with people trying to get into shooting snowboarding?

Dress warm, drink a lot of liquids, carry spare batteries, keep nuts in your pockets in case you see a squirrel, shoot as much as you can and write less in stupid ass forums.

Do you have a website where people can see more of your work?
Still working on one but heres a flickr account I use from time to time:[email protected]/

Big ups to Ninja Squad, Osogovo snowpark, Ashbury Bulgaria, Fabric, Whiteroom mag and V!