MARCH: A SKI trail called Javorová cesta (Maple Route) on the Buková hora (Beech Mountain) ski slope in Tatranská Lomnica was full of oddly-clad skiers on March 3, when winter sports enthusiasts tried retro skiing on wooden boards without modern amenities and – worst of all – without ski lifts.
The 10th year of a retro ski competition known as Majs-trovský prebor v lyžovaní sjazdovom (Champions Race in Downhill Skiing) attracted many spectators as well as daredevils who were willing to compete in a strong wind with antique equipment.
“The atmosphere is great. Although the wind was strong in the morning, it was blowing more mildly later and the sun was shining. I think that those who were just watching had more fun but the contestants had good spirits too, even though there have been some falls and scratches,” said Alena Varadyová of the sponsoring organisation, as quoted by the TASR newswire. She noted that competitors used old-style wooden skis with strap bindings and leather ski boots. The ski outfits were historical as well, and most women skied in skirts.
“The ladies did have the better time, probably thanks to the clothing. When the wind blew into a wide skirt they could achieve enormous speed; so we will consider a special category – hang-glider skiing,” said Varadyová jokingly. The youngest participant was just eight while the oldest was over 70.
Varadyová told the SITA newswire that interest in what she called “period skiing” has been growing every year. “This is a commemoration of older times when skiing was only beginning in the Tatras; and it is also a chance for people to come together, relax and have fun, forgetting their demanding work or duties,” she added.
Because of the strong wind the ski lift could not be operated but Varadyová said the competitors did not really mind, as 100 years ago there were no ski lifts and they were closer to the reality of that period when everyone carried their skis to the top of the hill.
Vladimír Hubač, another participant, is a fan of both history and skiing and said he had been building a skiing museum in Tatranská Lomnica since 2011.
His plan is for the museum to offer a history of skiing in the High Tatras and to display historical skiing equipment.
The museum will also commemorate some early proponents of skiing in the Tatras such as Mikuláš Szontág – and Michal Guhr, who represented Czechoslovakia in the Winter Olympics and built ski jumps in Tatranská Polianka with his own money, Hubač told SITA.