Polish National Champs in Krynica Zdroja, Krakow, Vienna and the long journey home

It was up early in Czech and back on the road for 4 hours to one of my favourite countries in Europe, Poland! We had a free day, as the next race wasn’t until Wednesday, so I had suggested to the rest of the team we spend a day in Krakow. The drive through Czech was mainly on back roads and we passed loads of little ski resorts on the way. Would loved to stop and get a few runs in these backend of nowhere resorts as I know the chances of me ever going back to them are slim to none!

When we eventually crossed the boarder to Poland there was a noticeable difference in the quality of roads building and everything. It might not be up there on everyone’s list of favourite countries but I was very excited to be back! After Myles managed to sneak the tomtom into taking us via a KFC for lunch we found the Pink Panther Hostel, which is a stones through from the central square. I had stayed there a few months before so knew it was perfect for what we needed. If you are ever in Krakow its worth checking out.

After dropping off our gear it was time to go out and wonder the city for a bit. It was a proper test to see how much I had remembered from my last visit but after a quick walk around the square I took the guys off to the castle. I had heard it had been pretty cold out east and Poland wasn’t letting us down, felt like –heaps degrees C but I managed to point out most stuff around the castle including the fire breathing dragon which proved to be a good source of heat!

Krakows incredible castle

Getting some energy at the shakra

Trying to steal some dolla dolla to help cover our training fees

Krakows genuine fire breathing dragon, make sure you lock up your maidens…

If you visit Krakow make sure you go inside this church.

That evening we decided to head out for dinner. After being around Polish people heaps in Edinburgh I was used to all the breaded meats and very excited to get to have some Barszcz which is a type of beetroot soup that comes in a cup with your meal. For the others it all seamed a little more exotic but thankfully as Krakow gets a lot of British tourists this place had an English menu. We were yet to realise this would be the only place with an English menu for the rest of the trip…

My Polish dinner, opted to miss out on the breaded chicken…

We only had a few hours drive the to the next resort near the town of so we spent the morning wondering around the Jewish quarter of Krakow which is definitely worth a visit. Feels like your walking around a level from a Call of Duty game! When we eventually hit the road but it wasn’t long before a tactical stop at a Tesco was need for some lunch where once again our lack of Polish resulted in more food ordering issues from the canteen.

man having a pee

the lads looking for more ways to cover training fees although I don’t think they’ll get much for this…

Buying chess boards…

Packing up the Battle Wagon ready to hit the road again.

Next destination…

One of the guys from the Polish team had been helping us sort out with accommodation near the rave venue which turned out be really nice. We had access to a garage downstairs for waxing our boards so spent most of the day catching up on internet stuff, Myles getting beat at chess, myself getting beat at chess and waxing our boards. It was pretty late by the time dinner came around and we thought we were going for the safe option by going to a pizzeria. For myself this would prove to be very wrong. Tried to order the beetroot soup and a mushroom pizza, which sound like it should be easy enough. Wrong. I ended up with some random soup with what looked like maggots in it (actually really tasty) and a pizza with whole cloves of garlic on it. I am surprised anyone would even consider having a face-to-face conversation with me for the next few days!

Next day was Polish Nationals day and some really big names had shown up fot it. The course was looking pretty fun and quite technical although there was a straight section of the course with no features so they had just put in a few GS gates, which was a bit lame. They had a butt ton of snow so I don’t know why they didn’t just build a few more rollers or a step down roller or something.

Course Run Through

  • Out the start gate into a wu-tang
  • Step up roller
  • Two fairly whippy rollers
  • Right hand berm
  • Left berm
  • Small table top
  • Ice cream cone shaped roller, off axis on a right hand corner
  • Roller
  • Left hand berm
  • GS gates
  • Step down kicker
  • Kicker
  • Left hand berm
  • Two fast whippy rollers to the finish line

It was so same format as in Czech so we had two qualifying runs and top 16 qualify for finals. I put in a fairly mellow first run so come 2nd runs I could get loose. After first runs I was just outside qualifying by 0.2 of a second so I knew I could easily make up come second 2nd runs. Put in what felt like a fast run however the snow had been slowing up as it got warmer and it turned out very few people put in faster times. Ended up 20th  but as the field was of such a high level it resulted in 24 points but still a bit pissed off. Myles ended up top 12th, Marlies 7th and Tom Bankes mixing it up with the big guns coming 3rd. We went out for steak and beetroot soup that night which cost a grand total of about 7 Euros! Score.

Myles getting ready for his heat

Day two of racing and no major course changes except for a few extra GS gates added in. The weather was much better too, super warm and no wind. Think the snow temp was sitting at like -0.2C so the snow was only just still snow! Come racing I managed to qualify for the finals by manning up and changing a few lines here and there. It was time for the heats.

First race I pulled out the gate and over the wu-tang all four of us were neck and neck. One of the Austrian guys and myself got pretty tangled up and he ended up going down. Coming into the first corner I was sitting in 3rd place knowing I could settle for 3rd and top 12 finish or keep pushing and get into the top 8. I sat right behind 2nd place waiting to make my move and I knew where I could make it. We came into the last few jumps where I knew I could get the speed to overtake. I made my move and coming into the last corner I knew I was going to pass but I got blocked off on the outside and was unable to make my turn as my board was under the tail of the other riders. Not 100% sure what happened next but I was in the air and flying out of the top of the berm. Myles and Tom saw it all happen from the chairlift and said later “it was a pretty bold move and an epic crash.” I got up as quick as could hoping that I could hop back up around the gates I had missed and get third place however as soon as I looked up the Austrian that had fallen earlier was already passed. I was so pissed off at the time but looking back it was one of the most fun races I had had all season!

2nd day rain….

As there wasn’t a load of girls they went straight into the finals and Marlies made a fantastic comeback to take 3rd place and her first podium at FIS level, massive props! Myles who was sitting in 2nd place for all of his first heat got unlucky and just missed out meant he end up 9th which is still a fantastic result. Mr Banks made a sick comeback in the finals to take his first win of the season with a photo finish. Made for some fantastic watching! Well done.

Winners with their medals

For a full list of results please check out the FIS website.

And that was that for Poland. Once again it hadn’t disappointed and we all had a fantastic time there. The people were epic and the places we visited were beautiful. Poland will always be one of my most favourite places in Europe and I really can’t wait to go back one day.

View back in to Poland from Slovakia.

It was time to start the epic journey back to Morzine. Tomtom told us it was going to take a grand total of 16 hours, which we were all dreading. Luckily for us Marlies had arranged with her parents that we could stay the night at her place near Vienna. We managed to get in some of the sights of Vienna and spent most of our time there crushing the remaining Czech coins we had left on the tram tracks which was probably the highlight. Really beautiful city though, so clean and the architecture is some of the nicest I have seen across Europe. Marlies made for an excellent tour guide and walked us round pointing out most of the city sights and points of interest including I log with lots of nails in it and signs of the resistance during WWII.

Balcony where Hitler made his famous speech on 12th March 1938.

By the time we reached her house we were all starving and walked into her house greeted by her parents and one of the most incredible smelling dinners I have ever smelt! It certainly made up for the bowls of onions we had been eating in Czech the previous week! Roast pork with apple sauce and a massive baked Alaska. So to have some proper home cooking after we have spent most the season eating pasta dishes and student-ish style food in Morzine. I massive thank you to the Neuners’ for being fantasic hosts.

The next day it was back in the battle wagon, where I am writing this now, to make the final push towards Morzine. It has been really nice to get out of resort for almost 2 weeks as it is quite easy to start to feel trapped in Morzine and I am kind of dreading going back in a way. I am looking forward to doing a few shifts and work and riding the pipe again but I’m ready for the next adventure.

Here is roughly the route of the whole trip. Massive thanks to Jimbo for doing all the driving.

7 countries

4 currencies

No getting pulled over

400 euros in fuel

Best trip of the season….

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