Slovenia and the perma-smile

(English version of the article from 19th may. Scroll down for pictures and please lift your hat for the translation from  Christine Maier.)

I am totally enchanted by the country and its people. Not one second where I wasn’t having great fun and I am now thinking about emigrating. Some hands went up at my mention of setting up a farm next to corner 8. But let’s go back right to the beginning: Once more, the Slovenians presented themselves as super-relaxed folk. From the hotel staff (amazing – 3 course dinner for €6.50), the track marshals, the organisers (who were checking whether I had fun as I was about to leave, just to make sure and who offered me a bottle of Slivovitz to take home since I seemingly liked it so much) to the residents of Osilnica who explained the different local cheese varieties to me whilst waiting in the queue at the local grocer’s. Everyone was just lovely. Be it the hotel cleaner who asked me whether she could borrow my board as she’d love to roll a few metres even though according to her she wouldn’t be any good at it and most likely fall over, or the bartender who’d rather miss out on a tip so I wouldn’t have to take my change in loose coins or the residents hosting the fete on the occasion of the 1st of May who were beaming with pride when I commented on how the local beer wasn’t a bad brew. To keep it short – The Slovenians are a very impressive people. I felt welcome and at home, to me there is no better feeling in other countries. 

The series of fortunate strokes of fate started with Janko’s dad Steffen who spontaneously agreed to drive us to Osilnica, which is an 11h car journey from Berlin, in his luxurious company van. After a looooong drive we finally arrived at our destination at 1am and were promptly greeted by a completely hammered Team Germany. Domme and Hertli pulled me out of the car and this very moment I realised that this was the end of 8 long months of winter, grey skies and no skating. It was as if it had never happened. I was handed a can of beer after a mere 40 seconds on Slovenian soil – it was the start of the first event of the year and I could feel very clearly that the world had me back.

Unfortunately the first run on the first day was delayed significantly due to a misunderstanding with the on-site medical staff. Nonetheless, everyone waited around in the shade patiently when all of a sudden, a very stupid accident came about: Someone who was simply standing by the side of the road waiting was knocked over so badly that he broke three ribs and his knee. Sending positive healing vibes and well-wishings to this poor fella who got taken out before he even got a chance to get on his board.

But then….
Since I was all kitted out with the newest downhill machine by Olson& Hekmati, I decided to be sensible and started off on a vixen. Yep, that’s right, the “gentle” side of the track is called the Vixen.
The atmosphere throughout the camp was a very relaxed one. The Slovenian landscape is one of the most beautiful sceneries I have ever seen. The mountains mostly reach up to the timberline which means you find yourself surrounded by green hills.
Nadim,Mihael, Nadja and all the other organisers (who unfortunately I don’t know by name) did an absolutely great job. The track was very generously secured with hay bales. I couldn’t see any part that would not have been appropriately prepped and the shuttles left very swiftly after the last riders on each run. You could even do two runs on the Vixen during the time it took to complete one run on the Bear. I don’t know how it could have been done any quicker or any more efficient. Furthermore, there was a constant supply of water available as promised. The sun hit down on us every day, but a constant breeze made this quite pleasant (which also explains some pretty bizarre sunburn patterns – pasty elbows and tanned upper arms). 

With its 14 hairpins, the Bear is indeed a challenging track, but it is possible to skate it safely, even without years of experience. The width allows for some serious carving and the very slideable surface which yet is easy on the wheels (yep, this is possible) offers endless possibilities for all speed levels. Of course it’s perfectly possibly to simply tank this beauty, as demonstrated by Team Germany and Team Graz. The high skill level displayed by many riders was outstanding, I did not expect this at a freeride. Combined with a total lack of competitive thinking or animosity I can but emphasise again how much fun this event was.

See you in the summer, thanks for everything!

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