Two US Trikke trainers travel to Europe’s Fakro Cup, where the only common language is the Trikke Skki
In January, 2011, American Trikke trainers Douglass Weymouth and Darrick Bruyn attended the 4th Annual Fakro Cup International Trikke Skki Championship near Krakow, Poland. Here now, Douglass’ travelogue from that trip:
Darrick Bruyn drove from Oregon to Santa Cruz, CA, and [my wife] Sally drove us to the airport in San Francisco early in the morning, our Trikke Skki’s in golf traveling bags. We flew from SFO to Frankfurt on the first leg, with a six-hour layover for the connecting flight to Krakow, Poland.
We stayed at the Ascot Hotel in Krakow, then went to find a bus to Muszyna, a small village in the southern mountains of Poland. We had no idea of the bus schedule and knew almost no Polish. Still, we managed to discover the bus we needed had left earlier that morning and the next bus was a six-hour wait.
We were approached by taxi drivers, but the Small Planet Guide had warned me not to trust them, as they wanted 3-4 times more than the bus fare. We caught the bus and took a nice ride to Muszyna, arriving about 11 o’clock at night.
In Poland, they leave their Christmas lights up later than we do, so we could see the lights along the way. Muszyna was closed down for the night, but Darrick found a store with an employee who could speak a little English and he offered to take us to the Hotel Activa in his car. We were quite fortunate he was there.
We arrived at the Hotel Activa, which had been booked in advance by Tomasz Dziedic of Trikke Poland, so we had a room. It was very hard to communicate, but some of the staff spoke a bit of English and we were able to identify ourselves and settle in.
We had arrived in Poland two days before Fakro Cup was scheduled to start, so we had to wait for the arrival of other participants. We wanted to Skki but had to wait a day in order to get permission to join the groups that were going from the hotel. We didn’t realize it at the time, but there was another nearby resort where we could have used the Skki, had we been in possession of a vehicle.
The snow conditions were not great — as it had been unseasonably warm before our arrival — and the coverage was minimal and icy.
On our second day at the hotel, we were invited to take a bus to the Fakro Extreme Downhill track, which is owned by Fakro and located just behind the hotel, a short distance away. We were pretty much in the dark about what was happening but started piecing things together bit by bit. Fortunately, some snow had fallen and we enjoyed a number of runs down the track.
The next evening (Thursday), the participants started arriving for the Fakro Cup and we were able to start speaking some English. Our new friend, Petr, from the Czech Republic, had an amazing command of English, having spent some time in the United States. Ola Binka-Kowalski and her husband, Pawel, also spoke quite a bit of English and we started to feel more comfortable. Tomasz and Anna, our hosts, spoke enough English to make us feel like we were part of the group.
The next day, we visited the site of the Giant Slalom event, but because of a lack of snow, the top portion of the slope was not in use. We warmed up on the rest of the slope and had some impromptu races with our fellow participants. Afterwards, we returned to the Activa, had dinner, then went to the Extreme Track to practice for the race on Saturday.
It was nighttime and cold, but the camaraderie was very warm. In both cases, the transportation to the top of the slope is via a tractor pulling a special trailer. At the Extreme Track, the trailer is covered in plexiglass, like a covered wagon. It is also possible to ride on the front of the tractor in four ski-lift-like seats. At the Giant Slalom hill, you load your Skki on the trailer and stand next to it.
Saturday brought the competitions and a nice sunny day. Darrick finished in the middle of the pack and I finished at the bottom in the Giant Slalom. We returned to the Hotel Activa and had dinner, followed by the running of the Extreme Track race. The track was quite icy and it was quite late. Unfortunately I had a crash and the event was delayed while I was given a ride to the bottom of the hill. I wasn’t badly injured and survived to return to the US.
The awards were given on the hill and we returned to the Activa. We arranged for a ride with several of the participants who live in the general direction of where we were staying in Krakow. We had to wait two days for our flight home, due to booking for a longer time than necessary. Darrick and I walked around Krakow — a very lovely city — sightseeing and enjoying the culture.
It was very hard to communicate, although we did run into a Polish woman, who had been raised in Australia, and a man who had done work in Ireland and spoke with an Irish accent. It was hard not being able to speak English with the folks on the street, but we managed to have a good time.
I would love to return to Poland, were it not for the long flight. The Trikke Skki enthusiasts that we met were fun to be around, and even though we couldn’t speak directly to them, we shared a lot of laughs and left with a bit of Poland in our hearts.
Polish is a difficult language to learn, but if you plan on visiting, I highly recommend you learn it. You will never meet a more enthusiastic group of Trikke Skki racers.
Photos by Douglass Weymouth.