It reads like a Hollywood movie script, ‘hometown girl skies to victory on the very slopes where she learnt to ski as a child, before going on to become the Alpine World Cup Ski Champion’. Well, this is not fiction but the true story of Petra Vlhova, who made history by becoming the first person in Slovakia to win the overall title.
Having snaked to victory in the Giant Slalom at the ‘Audi FIS Ski World Cup’ competition on the slopes of the Jasna Ski Resort, in the Low Tatras Mountains of Slovakia she was well on her way to collecting the world title just a couple of weeks later. She is a super star in Slovakia, not just for her prowess on the slopes, but also for never forgetting her roots and this was most evident with her emotional victory in the Giant Slalom on Sunday 7th March 2021.
As she lifted the ‘Crystal Globe’ world Championship trophy, Vlhova said to the press
“I won also for my country. It means a lot”.
She is an incredible role-model for Slovakia and fiercely proud of her Liptovsky Mikulas origins and the mountainous region of her birth which set her skiing from an early age and she has never looked back, continuing to compete at the very highest level across the world. She also stated in a recent interview:
“It’s impossible to describe my feelings by words. Returning to Liptovsky Mikulas always warms my heart, especially after being away for a longer period. There is only one home – and for me it’s Liptovsky Mikulas and the spectacular Liptov region.”
Whilst fans could not attend her home coming race, they were all willing her on ‘virtually’ and this also gave them an opportunity to see the magnificent setting of the Low Tatras Mountains and Jasna Ski Resort. A popular ski destination for the savvy sports traveller but not generally well-known, when compared with some of the glittering resorts of the Alps.
The lofty peaks of the Carpathian Mountain range, which start to rise in the westernmost part of Slovakia and reach their zenith in the High & Low Tatras, should be on everyone’s bucket-list regardless of which season one decides to travel. Beyond this point, as one moves further north in Europe there are no higher peaks, so the country is proud to have the unofficial title of ‘The roof of Central Europe’.
What is certain is that Vlhova sets a great example, whether consciously or subconsciously, of being able to truly enjoy nature in a sustainable way and this of course prompts and promotes others to follow in her footsteps. For elite athletes the training regime never stops; in Vlhova’s case when she comes home that just means she can continue to explore and admire the beauty of the ‘Liptov Region’ in so many diverse ways whilst keeping fit.
Whether travellers just come for an active break as a family, or come as an elite athlete or team, the Liptov region offers excellent conditions. Vlhova says
“I was biking, running and hiking a lot. Liptov has endless biking possibilities – most of the time I was biking to Ziarska Chata (mountain chalet), Svidovske Sedlo (saddle), to Cierny Vah River and water reservoir, and many times around Liptovska Mara water dam and up to Jasna. I was also running a lot, especially along my favourite forest park Haj Nicovo situated on the hill Haj on the northern edge of Liptovsky Mikulas. I was also hiking too in the High Tatras – to name a few trails, to Popradske Pleso, but I also conquered some peaks above 2,000m, such as the famous Rysy Peak as well as Slovakia´s highest and most challenging peak – the Gerlach Peak.”
Petra Vlhova is a history maker in her discipline, her achievements transcend sport by also raising awareness of health, wellness and sustainability in general, but more specifically for her hometown region of Liptov, the neighbouring High Tatras and the rest of Slovakia.
Here are three more reasons to Visit the Liptov Region:
- When muscles needing soothing after active adventure pursuits head to the spa…
Blessed with subterranean geothermal water resources, forming mineral springs and healing waters which can be enjoyed at Besenova Thermal Pools (See besenova.com – Liptov region), which is another of Liptov’s epicentres of health, wellness and relaxation, Besanova pumps hot thermal spring water into nine pools made up of health-giving mineral content.
- Let the river waters take the strain…
Take a leisurely rafting experience through the canyons created by the Dunajec River, on traditional wood rafts in view of the Pieniny Mountains’ three crown peaks, which is suitable for all the family to enjoy the serenity of the waterway. Back on land at the Pieniny Chata/Hut, you can have a “Goral Picnic”, which means lunch with traditional Goral music and musicians in authentic costumes.
- Refuel with one of Slovakia’s favourite dishes…
If you need to replenish your energy then let us introduce you to “Bryndzove Halusky” (potato dumplings), which is considered the national dish of Slovakia and similar to Italian gnocchi. These dumplings are covered with sheeps cheese (Bryndzove) and combined with locally-sourced smoked bacon and bacon dripping. It will provide enough energy to power you across the slopes!
Ramy James Salameh is an award-winning travel journalist and works as an International Reporter for ‘Conference + Meetings World Magazine’. He writes about all aspects of travel in the MICE, business travel, luxury, lifestyle and cultural tourism sectors.