Petra Vlhova, one of Slovakia’s most recognisable sporting faces, is a World Cup alpine ski racer specialising in the slalom and giant slalom. She is the current world champion in giant slalom. Fiercely proud of her Liptovsky Mikulas roots, the mountainous region of her birth set her on skis from an early age and she has never looked back, continuing to compete at the very highest level across the world.

When did you start skiing?

I was born in Liptovsky Mikulas, in the town which is the centre of the picturesque Liptov region, full or mountains, hills and picturesque landscape. My parents were running a small refreshment booth (buffet) in Jasna – Liptov’s and Slovakia’s biggest ski resort, so I spent a lot of time in Jasna since my early childhood. Naturally I started skiing very early, together with my brother. I joined a ski club and at the beginning, it was just for spending time in the fresh air and recreational skiing – but after I started winning some contests, my father started to pay more attention to it and started to develop my potential.

Where in the Liptov and Tatras region can you train?

As a professional skier I have to follow exact rules where I can train. In Slovakia, only Jasna meets all the requirements and fulfils all the standards, so most of the time I train abroad, but when I am at home, I am skiing in Jasna. (A slalom and a giant slalom event of the World Cup series take place in Jasná in the Low Tatras on 6-7 March 2021).

How did the Covid-19 situation change your training routine? Have you spent more time in Slovakia, at home?

Of course, all the limitations and complications caused by the Covid situation forced me to be at home most of the time. I have spend a lot of time in my home region. Although there was no possibility to ski in Liptov in the spring and summer months, Liptov region has offered excellent training conditions – 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, 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 hiking quite a lot 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.

How you feel when you come home to Liptov after a longer stay abroad?

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.