Joy Meets World: Kosovo Edition | The Best Hidden Gem Powder Resort In Europe

So good, I almost don’t want to tell you about it.

Photo above by Ivan Neshovski.

Fuck Chamonix. Yep, I said it. In March 2022 I rode some of the best snow of my life and it was in the place you’d least expect. Let me set the scene for a moment – blower powder, bluebird skies, no lift lines, and €1 beer. Sounds dreamy, right?

“If you’re looking for more faceshots than PornHub, then Kosovo should be top of your list in Europe”

As our crew sat in the back of the snowcat, trundling up the side of an almost deserted Kosovan mountain, surrounded by untracked snow as far as the eye could see, we debated keeping Brezovica a secret. But as my siblings learned the hard way growing up, I’m a snitch first and foremost, so here we are. (Sorry gang.)

Brezovica is the new place to be for discerning powderhounds looking to get their fix. If you’re looking for more faceshots than PornHub, then Kosovo should be top of your list in Europe. Those with enough gas in the tank to venture 5-10 minutes from the lift will find the plethora of terrain on offer mindblowing.

Setting up the boards. Photo: Mone Monsberger.

If you’re purely an in-bounds resort rider then this probably isn’t the place for you, the marked runs are pretty paltry compared to other Euro spots. Similarly, if your freeriding wet dream is more akin to a Jeremy Jones-esque ball shrinker of a run, chock full of steep chutes and gnarly couloirs, then there’s more technical terrain to be had elsewhere. But if you’re all about painting lines in fresh snow, throwing surfy turns in wide, open bowls and punching your ticket to the white room, then sack off Hokkaido and book a flight to Pristina.

“What made this so incredible was the fact that everywhere we rode, our tracks were the only ones in sight”

There are some lifts turning, but the infrastructure is pretty medieval if you’re used to the Alps. Only two chairlifts were in use while we were there and those seemed to be scheduled on an ever-changing whim, with others completely abandoned and out of service throughout the resort. One such jilted chair was built to service a backup Super G course for the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo and had only turned for two days before being shut off, thanks to the ongoing tension between Kosovo and Macedonia (where the chair disembarks).

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I’d recommend getting a guide or booking a snowcat, if not for safety then at least to find all the secret local spots without having to hike too much. Cat-boarding has always seemed a bit unrealistic in other Euro resorts due to the lack of available space, and financially out of reach in North America, so this was the perfect opportunity to give it a whirl. Considering the price, especially when compared to what you’d pay elsewhere, it was well worth the cash.

Time for the gear plug – you knew it was coming but bear with me. We were out there on K2 Snowboards’ dime and we got the opportunity to test 22/23 boards and bindings. I was buckled into the new unisex Passport and as someone who usually rides super soft true twins, my hackles were raised initially. I’m always hesitant to get on something more aggressive and directional than I’m used to but, considering the conditions and terrain, I’m glad someone knocked some sense into me.

“Brezovica itself is an economic juxtaposition”

The Passport is spritely and nimble throughout the length, slightly softer between the feet but nice and stiff in the tail for slashing. I tried to ride nose heavy and go over the handlebars a couple of times and I’ll say this – Jack and Rose could have used one of these when they hit the iceberg because the Passport refused to sink. I tested dozens of boards over the winter for our 22/23 Buyer’s Guide, but the Passport was easily one of my favourites, so much so we named it our Best Unisex Freeride board for the season. (Scroll down to read our review on the K2 Passport).

The snow was nipple-deep at points, and I’m sure many of us have ridden deep snow at some point, but what made this so incredible was the fact that everywhere we rode, our tracks were the only ones in sight. It’s not like the Alps where you have to have a nose like a Proboscis Monkey to sniff out untouched pockets after 10am, this is a bona fide white gold country.

Frozen lifts. Photo: Mone Monsberger.

I’m not too consumed by narcissism to admit I’m not the best rider in the world, but this is the kind of snow and terrain that had me feeling like I’d been blessed by Dimitar himself. We were treated to a masterclass from K2 pros David Djité, Loranne Smans, Levi Luggen and Thomas Delfino which only served to up the ante and the froth levels tenfold.

“If you’ve got any sense or annual leave left to take, I’ll be seeing you there too- the first round of beer’s on me”

Brezovica itself is an economic juxtaposition. A shiny Tesla parked next to a rusted out hunk of junk, a deserted communist-era hotel against the backdrop of a chalet that wouldn’t look out of place in Vail, a rider in head-to-toe Prada outerwear riding on a rickety, wooden one-seater chairlift. The disparity of wealth was astounding and severe to a level I’ve only witnessed once previously when I was visiting Sochi to ride in Rosa Khutor.

A population of around 250 year-round residents make up the town, speaking mainly Serbian and Albanian. And while the war and resulting troubles have not been forgotten, the locals were friendly and accommodating, always open to having a chat and a beer. A stark contrast to the police who were such cowboys they would have given Butch Cassidy a run for his money. They gave us a run for our money too, try and keep a few bucks on hand to grease palms while you’re there, or you might end up having to trade possessions – a bag of beanies in our case.

David Djite. Photo: Mone Monsberger.

The hotel we were originally meant to be staying at was closed due to the excessive snowfall blocking the road, so we were rehomed in the über-chic Rock Hotel. With prices averaging out at around £70 for a King Room it’s bafflingly nice, the staff are awesome and the food is authentically top-notch. It also has its own bar, which comes in handy considering you won’t find any traditional apres ski in town. (Sorry Hugo and Barnaby, but there’s no Folie Douce equivalent to spaff champagne on your trust fund buddies and their Canada Goose jackets here.)

Local shops on the slope. Photo: Mone Monsberger.

I know it’s considered uncouth to mention a lady’s weight but we were greeted at the Rock Hotel’s check-in desk by Frida who’s BMI would make even the most laid-back doctor wince. She also smelled a bit funky but I don’t think she’ll mind me saying that as I’m pretty sure she can’t read. Frida, it’s worth saying, was our hotel’s gigantic St. Bernard and easily the most lovable member of hotel staff I’ve ever encountered. Even if she did hump me.

As we wrapped up a weekend of some of the best riding of my life, our last evening was one for the books. Dinner gave way to a rakia-fuelled bacchanalian celebration, complete with karaoke and an antique suit of armour. Fast forward to the next morning and the only downside of the trip aside from a soul-crushing hangover was the inevitable melancholy as we sat idle at the airport waiting to fly out. A huge thanks to K2 and the whole crew for having me along, this really was one for the books.

Kosovo views. Photo: Mone Monsberger.

I got the impression that rules are often just suggestions in Brezovica but aside from the occasional forced kickback, it’s a fascinatingly overlooked destination that deserves more recognition. Will I be heading back to Kosovo to get my powder fix in the future? The answer is a phrase I found myself shouting over and over as I was dropping into the endless untracked bowls – “FUCK YEAH”. And if you’ve got any sense or annual leave left to take, I’ll be seeing you there too – the first round of beer’s on me.

K2 Passport Snowboard 2022-2023

Whitelines Choice Winner: Best Unisex Freeride Snowboard
PRICE: £465 / €530 / $530

For 2023, K2 have expanded their unisex offering with the all-new Passport. This is your ticket to ride just about anything, with a lively personality and rider refined features that focus on piste and pow.

The Passport is built for deep days and steep days. It’ll be a reliable companion for specialised riding and, while it will prefer a blower day after a couple feet of fresh snowfall, you’ll still get that high-end performance on an overnight light dusting. The stiffer flex and performance oriented construction do place a bit of a barrier to entry here, so rookies might want to look toward something a bit more mellow.

Who Is The K2 Passport For?

You’re a confident rider who prioritises powder missions and days spent carving up the corduroy. Your park days are probably mostly behind you (or you have a specific freestyle quiver deck for party laps). You ride fast and hard and need a snowboard that can accompany you when you want to push your limits.


Selected for the Whitelines 100 – take a closer look at the 2022-2023 K2 Passport here

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