Slovakia Update #103 – Rotary Ski Week 2017/2018 JASNA

After a week of almost non-stop snowboarding, I feel like I have the right to say I am a bit tired. This past week I have been absolutely tearing up the slopes of the largest ski resort in central Europe: Jasna. From broken bones to shirtless runs down the slopes, I had an absolute blast.

Heading to Liptovský Mikuláš

We began our traveling fairly early in the morning, Martin, Nicole and I all packing ourselves into the cramped train. It was a real challenge changing trains, as all three of us had bags, skis/snowboards, and other accessories. We only had to change trains once, in the small city of Vrútky, which is located right next to the major city Martin. During the train ride, I had the opportunity to mentally prepare myself for the intense week of snowboarding that lay ahead.

On arrival to Liptovský Mikuláš, I was surprised on the number of exchange students attending. After some counting, I estimate approximately 75 exchange students from both Slovakia and the Czech Republic attending. After some happy meetings with students which I had not seen in nearly 5 months we all began to squish ourselves onto the bus. Apparently we had a few more students attending the event then previously realised, because it was not uncommon for students to be standing in the bus aisle or doubling up the seating on a row.

Checking into the Hotel

The quick 20 minute bus ride up to the ski slopes was over in a flash, but the arrival to the hotel was less so. Because of reasons the bus driver couldn’t take us directly to the hotel. Instead, we would have to walk with our gear. Fortunately, there was a van that would be taking our luggage up to the hotel. Once we made the hike through the snow up to the hotel, we then split into two groups; ones who brought ski/snowboarding equipment and those who did not. Fortunately for me, I was in the group that had brought their own equipment, so I was able to relax in the hotel.

Once the other group returned with their newly rented equipment, we were given our locker assignments and our room assignments. In the lockers we were assigned, we put in our ski/snowboarding equipment, and locked it up with a tiny little key this will be important later.

It was then I was able to meet with my roommate for the next week: Porter. Porter sure is a funny guy, you might see why later.

Our first Skiing Adventure!

I woke up early in the morning on the floor. With a slightly sore throat, I was a little curious on how I got there. I then remembered that Porter and his Taiwanese friend Ryan had decided to take the bed, while I took the floor. Of course, this certainly wasn’t allowed: they had a very strict policy on only two people per room. But, the three of us quickly became friends the previous evening, so we decided that the ridiculous ruling just didn’t apply to us.

After getting dressed and gathering my snow equipment together, the three of us went down for some breakfast. Something that will always bother me in Slovakia, is that I can never find milk for cereal that is cold. With a bowl of warm milk in hand, I sat down with an air of excitement: I would be snowboarding soon.

After breakfast was over, we gathered together in our respective groups and met with our instructors. There was a ridiculous amount of people skiing compared to the people snowboarding, probably a number close to 10:1. I met my two instructors for the weekend; Vikky and Matej. Although there were two, I stayed with Matej for most of the weekend as he was with the advanced group.

We then began on our short walk to the ski slopes. On the way there, I got into a bit of a debate on my usage of a helmet during my stay at Jasna. For reasons I won’t get into here, I found it quite ridiculous to be forced to wear a helmet. After some negotiation, I agree to take a helmet with me. This meant that I just strapped it onto my small backpack that I carried with me. Let me tell you they were not too happy about that one.

White Ass Hill

The first slope that we went down was called Biela Púť, or as we were told it translated to: white ass. The “ass: theme was common throughout the rest of the week, as we called the larger hill big ass hill and our team name was the hard asses. Myself and a newly found friend named Ben were obviously leagues ahead of the other group, and decided to break off on our own. We went down the big hill a few times, and then it was called a day. This wouldn’t be the last visit to Biela Púť, but it was the last time we really took it seriously.

Carnaval

After we returned from our first day of skiing and snowboarding, we were soon told that the fun wasn’t quite over. The Brazilian holiday known as Carnaval was in full swing, and the Brazilians at ski week were not ones to pass up an opportunity to party. So I quickly dawned on a borrowed outfit and went down to the party floor. There are stereotypes out there that the only thing Brazilians do is party. Sorry to say it, but it is true. They are wild.

Tatralandia

On the evening of the third day, we all packed into another extremely cramped bus to make our way to the largest waterpark in all of Slovakia, Tatralandia. This waterpark has water slides and heated pools, both inside and outside. We all were highly anticipating this trip.

Visiting Tatralandia was an experience that I won’t forget soon. Not because the waterpark was exceptionally spectacular or anything, but because of the people and the environment there really completed the cake. There was a large outdoor heated pool, and right across the middle of that was a volleyball net. At first it was just a small group of exchange students, but eventually the volleyball game spread to the entire pool participating. It might not sound like much, but it truly was something to see. If you can imagine all of us exchange students packed around the net, all of us hoping to get the ball. Suddenly someone knocks it wide, and we all think that it is going out. Suddenly an old man jumps out of nowhere and bats it right back over the net! The crowd goes wild!!

That kind of excitement made the whole trip to tatralandia worth it.

Liptovský Mikuláš

Once our visit to Tatralandia had come to a close, we ventured into the nearby town of Liptovský Mikuláš. There wasn’t much we could really do, as we were just given 2 hours to wander around the city. During that time, I tried some kebab, played foosball, and went to a bar to down some excellent Kofola with my exchange friends. I am sure the city of Liptovský Mikuláš would be very interesting during the day with more time, but just wandering around I felt like we wasted a possibly good experience. Oh well, can’t win them all!

The Club

I debated whether or not to write about this, for fairly obvious reasons. For the safety of myself and for the sake of a biased writing, I am going to try and exclude myself from this section. We walked to a club that was near our hotel, arriving in the early evening. As we walked to the club, there was only one question on all of our minds: why are we going to a club?? I would love to say this was blatantly obvious, but it really wasn’t. In the end, they kicked us all out and sent us back to the hotel, as they said we had been caught with alcohol. Not in defense of those with alcohol, but what do they expect when they take a bunch of teenagers to a club? Not the brightest idea to come out of the Rotary organization I can tell you that much. Although I can’t really complain as I had a great time that night.

Ski Week Summary

I tried to get some of the main points of the trip on here, but if I went into every single detail I would never finish. That being said, I will actually talk about the intention of the trip: snowboarding. At the beginning of the week here, I set a goal: I wanted to go off of a jump by the end of the week. With this goal in mind, and I trained myself hard. I probably fell off of the slopes there more times than I could count. However, by mid week I had already completed my goal of successfully going off of a jump.

Of course, I wanted more. I wanted something crazy to top the small little bump that I had made my way over. So I eventually went over bigger and bigger jumps, until eventually I was going over jumps easily that covered a span of 2m+. I guess snowboarding is like a drug: I start slowly, having a little fun, working my way in to much more difficult and harder paths until I eventually seriously hurt myself. Thankfully, I didn’t hurt myself this week, and I had a blast.

I met a lot of new friends this week, and was able to connect with quite a few old ones. I am a bit disappointed that I had to leave them at the end of the week, but I must say that I was absolutely exhausted by the end of the week, and greatly needed rest. This post is actually being put up 2+ days after the fact, because of a combination of being tired and other traveling. It feels strange to write something like that, as most of my previous writings were put up the day of, and not a bit later. Oh well, I grow up and I learn to be a little more fun.

Thank you for reading through this! I hope it was coherent, as I have tried to write this over a 3 day period now. I had a blast at Rotary Ski Week 2017/2018, and I am excited for my next opportunity to snowboard!


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