The snow report for our week in Slovakia was so good that we packed walking shoes. When we arrived, Max from Propaganda Snowboards asked if we had brought our mountain bikes. It wasn’t looking great. On the positives, we were able to stop off on the drive to Jasna to get plenty of wine and €0.60 beers to bide our time if necessary. The bigger positive was that we had booked at the same time as 17 Northern Englishmen on a Buck/Stag (Australian/English) weekend so the guys at Propaganda decided to put us in our own chalet right next to the slope. The chalet was amazing. A roaring fireplace in the evenings, views of the slopes and we even had the lovely Karan come up every morning to cook us breakfast (As well as the lovely Aunty Jassy cooking us all dinners!). The mountain is not the largest but was quite beautiful. Although there was no snow, we did get to see what it would look like in the summer.
Waking up the first morning, the situation looked worse. One piste in front of us was showing grass and the sprinkling from the sky was not the fluffy stuff we wanted, but the dreaded rain. The staff on the mountain did a great job getting the cannons going and keeping most of the mountain running, and as it wasn’t cold enough for the rain to freeze on our goggles, we could still snowboard and meant we had the entire mountain practically to ourselves.
From then on the temperature started dropping and little by little, snow started to fall. We had the luxury of some of the nicest runs finishing next to our chalet so it meant a few of the guys trying boarding for the first time could head back after a few too many falls on bums. It also meant that at the end of the day, Julian, Sarah’s uncle, could strap on my board and I could clip on his skis as we tried to break down the skiers/boarders barrier and show everyone that it’s okay to do either. I would say Julian got the hang of boarding a lot quicker than I did with the skis. At least when I fall on my board, I can get back up. I think that was the hardest part. Well almost. The hardest part was trying to walk down stairs in ski boots while carrying a board. You definitely lack swagger in ski boots.
As the conditions weren’t great, it meant Sarah and I could try out a few new tricks. Sarah was popping ollies all over the place like a little mountain rabbit while I tried mastering front side 180 ollies. However, the best “trick” I did was when I managed to master the “Tomahawk 1440” down one of the red runs.
A dramatic action on skis or a snowboard in which the rider crashes and turns end-over-end four consecutive times for a 1440 degree spin. This gives them the appearence of a spinning Tomahawk, hence the name.
– Urban Dictionary
The rest of the week turned out to be great and we didn’t need our walking shoes at all. We managed to ski/board every day ask we could try to burn off the calories from Jassy’s dinners, and numerous sips of Thunder Toffee Vodka. Much better than the dreaded Fernet Stock that was used as punishment for falling over. Yuck.
On Friday night, the guys at Propaganda kindly drove us down to the main town, Liptovsky Mikalus, to watch the local ice hockey team play for 12 straight victories. The atmosphere was great but, unfortunately, they lost in a slow and scrappy match and was highlighted with a not-so-cheeky elbow from the home team that resulted in a penalty, a concussion and the “Blood Sweepers” to venture onto the ice. Saturday was finished off by a few us catching a snow groomer halfway up the mountain to a fine dining restaurant for a 5 course dinner and where we had one of the tastiest soups ever- Creamy Sheep’s Cheese Soup – delicious. Not a bad way to finish the week, though there may have been a few more wines and a few games of cards to play before we really called it a night.
There was some doubt cast about what the quality of snowboarding would be like in Slovakia, but it turned out to be fantastic. The fact that we were based in an amazing chalet next to the slope obviously has its merits, but the mountain itself did not feel too small and with more snow is meant to be brilliant for off-piste. All the lifts (including one with seat warmers – great to start with, then you felt like you wet your pants) were new and the restaurants/bars all over the mountain were either recently renovated or characterful stone cottages serving delicious garlic or cabbage soups. As we sat on top of the mountain on the last day, sipping the last sips of toffee vodka under a perfect blue sky, we all agree that Jasna is set up to become a top ski resort that will no doubt become a bit more expensive as people find out about it. The sooner you go, the better.