European Winter PARA Sports Event – Poland 2020

About a month ago, before all this worldwide pandemic situation, i had the chance to participate in the European Winter PARA Sports Event – Poland 2020, with the adaptive snowboarder Pedro Herdeiro.

In this post i will do my best to describe a little about this outstanding and HUUUUUUUGE experience !!! #PARASKI4EUROPE

The “European Winter Para Sports Event, Poland’2020“ is planned from the 24th February to the 2nd of March 2020 in Czarna Gora Ski Resort and Duszniki Cross Country Center, Poland around 100 km south Wroclaw city. 300 participants, including 150 para athletes of different ages and sport levels , coming from at least 12 countries are expected. They will compete in the selected winter para sports: para alpine skiing, para-snowboard, cross-country and biathlon, along with educational programme: seminar and workshops of “Medical classification system” and “Anti-Doping Education”. As an accompanying activity, “Inspirational & Motivational Meetings with Paralympians”, strengthening inspirations and motivations in para-sport, will be organized.

For me, the journey started on 23 of February at 21h, in a BUS from Covilhã to Porto.

At Porto, i met with Pedro Herdeiro and his physiotherapist, Valter Soares, where we head to the airport, for a long 6h wait until our flight, at 6h40.
It was a nice “airport bench-sleep” 😀

The beginning of a new day, seen from the plane

3h30 later we arrived at Krakow’s Airport, where we met with our Polish friends Gocha Kelm (Polish National Para Snowboard Coach ) and Wojtek “Ras” Taraba (Polish Paralympic Snowboarder), who we already had the pleasure to knew and be with in previous PARA Snowboard camps and competitions, and who kindly did us the favor of picking us at the airport (THANK YOU !!!!!! Sooooooo much !!!!!!!!!!), each one with 1 car (so that all the luggage fits), and from there we all went together to the Polish ski resort of Czarna Góra.

After an almost 4h car ride, where along the way we crossed the Czech Republic (for around 20 minutes), at around 18h, we arrived to the amazing Aparthotel of Czarna Góra .
I must say it was a long 21h journey… but… it worth’s every minute

Ski Room for Portugal, Greece, France, Sweden and Norway

Open Ceremony Video

Training Days !!!

Before the day of the competition, we had 4 days for training.
So, after a wonderful breakfast at the hotel, we went with the Polish and Hungary Teams to the ski resort, in the cars of Gocha, Wojtek and Rozsa or we all went in the mini-buses that the event provided to make the transfer (of 2 minutes) between the hotel and the chairlift.

As a big family, we usually trained together, especially when the slope was open only for snowboarders.
In the rest of the day, even when we weren’t together training on the same slopes, because each team followed their own training, we always scheduled what time we would have lunch, what time we would go to the hotel etc. etc.
All together it’s funnier !!!

The training conditions were amazing. Every day, between certain hours, we had an entire slope just for the para-snowboarders of the event, with a groomed slope, starting gate and gates in the slalom course. (Thanks Karolina Adamska and Terjego)

Pedro Herdeiro had a very good progression during these training days and his skills and snowboard technique improved a lot. The fact that Valter Soares , from Centro Médico de Estarreja, managed to come with us (by his own means €) helped a lot in Pedro’s progression. Because of Pedro’s condition (multiple sclerosis primary progressive) it’s very important that they are able to maintain the daily physiotherapy treatments to which Pedro is used to, and this makes him better physical and metal prepared for the next training day and for the competition.

The Ski Resort

Czarna Góra‘S ski resort have several funny and curious features.
It has a chairlift called LUX TORPEDA – it’s a “super-fast” chairlift for 6 persons, with HEATED SEATS and a “dome” (ohhhh yyyeeeaaahhhhh – no cold / wind here) , that is able to do a 1.380 meters long run with 380 meters of vertical drop in just… 3 minutes, able to take 3.000 persons / hour
Czarna Góra also has “night Snowboarding” in part of the resort, including a 1.5km long slope.
At 4pm the LUX-TORPEDA stops so that the ‘ratracks’ can groom the slopes. At 5pm they open the chairlift again, with “fresh slopes” and we can keep training until 9pm !!!!!!! … every day !!!!
Night snowboarding is ALWAYS fun… especially with a super fast heated chairlift !!!

During the days of the event, lunch was always in a restaurant on the bottom of the ski resort called VILLA – a wonderful place decorated with authentic masterpieces of art carved in wood, nice people and very good food.

The Food !!!
Well… Polish food is just… DELICIOUS !!!! It’s easy to get fat here. And the Hotel and Ski Resort Restaurant’s buffet were really, really good and quite varied !!!!

One Sport – One Europe – One dream
… and ONE big snowboard familly !

PARA Snowboard Competition – Giant Slalom 

Photos by Adrian Stykowski

Video about the snowboard competition day !!! Check it !!!

After Pedro Herdeiro got an excellent 5th place in the Giant Slalom, with 7 athletes registered in his category (LL2), in an unexpected and unprecedented race between the snowboard coaches of the different countries .. i managed to get the 3rd best time and to bring the bronze medal to Portugal, after proudly receiving it during the closing ceremony of the European Winter PARA Sports Event – Poland 2020.

This is Ben… and Ben is THE MAN !!!

Ben-Jack Shaw, aka ‘Tiny’, is an 100% blind snowboarder .
After losing both eyes in a bomb explosion in Iraq while serving in the British Armed Forces, Ben never gave up on the sport he has practiced since childhood… snowboarding

Ben is the first 100% blind snowboarder that I am pleased to see competing in a PARA snowboard event, and it’s outstanding to see he’s riding level and the work that Ben and his coach, James Hossell, do together. Communicating with a microphone (coach) and 1 headphone (athlete), they managed to do, not one run, but two runs of the giant slalom competition WITHOUT missing one single gate, and winning the Gold Medal for the Armed Forces Para-Snowsport Team – AFPST and GB Snowsport !!!! Respect to both of you guys !!! Amazing work !!!

Also… Ben is a natural party dancer. You should see him in the dance floor of the closing ceremony of PARAski4Europe.

I already had the opportunity to teach ski to more than one blind person. Even a blind and autistic young girl. However, I’ve never had the chance to teach snowboard to a visual impaired person. And i would love to !!! So, if you know a visual impaired Portuguese person that would love to try and train snowboard… please be kind to let me know.
Who knows, one day we will be competing with Ben (THE man) and James.

Medal award and Closing Ceremony

Photos by Adrian Stykowski

Video of the Closing Ceremony of #ParaSki4Europe

During the days of the event we also had several workshop, including this amazing Motivational Workshop for coaches and team liders, by Piotr Marek