- Highest Point: 2,004m
- Descent: 1,061m
- No. lifts: 28
- Lift Pass: 1 Day - €43 / 6 Days - €223
Some French resorts may be charging €7+ for an après-ski beer these days, but fear not – there’s still somewhere in Europe where a pint comes in at under a couple of euros! Welcome to Jasná Nízke Tatry, Central Europe’s emerging snow star. Offering excellent value, great terrain and an experience a little off the beaten piste, Jasná has a season lasting five months, and with lifts dropping you off on the peaks of the freeride zones even advanced riders are well catered to.
In recent years, the North and South side of the resort have been joined by two fancy new gondolas. They’ve also splashed out on another chair, cut some new pistes and added more snowmaking - 34km of the resort's trails are now covered by cannons.
Though often designated as Eastern European, Slovakia prefers to think of itself as being in Central Europe, having removed the rust from the Iron Curtain long ago. New investment has poured in, providing modern facilities and well-maintained slopes, and Jasná is attracting adventurous snowboarders looking for quality riding at prices that undercut most resorts in Western Europe.
Propaganda Snowboards, a group of pioneering Brits, set up shop in Jasná during the early ‘00s and have established themselves as local experts, offering accommodation, transport, lessons and guiding. Jasná may not have quite as much terrain as its more westerly counterparts but it retains a relaxed, local atmosphere untainted by Brits abroad package tourism.
If you’re looking for low prices, great off-piste, and somewhere a little different, get to Jasná before this post-Soviet secret gets out.
"Jasná retains a relaxed, local atmosphere untainted by Brits abroad package tourism"
The Pistes - 3/5
The slopes are divided into two separate ski areas; North and South Chopok, which together offer almost 40km of piste and over 1000m of vertical served by 27 lifts, ranging from a modern gondola, to zippy chairs, to poma drags.
About 30% of the slopes are aimed at beginners, with gentle greens and blues ideal for learners; about 50% is suited to intermediates, with a variety of reds and cruisers, and the remaining 20% are steeper blacks for the more advanced.
The lower two-thirds of the mountain are forested, offering very attractive scenery and the chance to dive off into the trunks on a powder day. The upper third is treeless, and is where the open bowls are to be found.
The snowboard school offers well-trained instructors who speak good English, so beginners will be in good hands. And for those who just don’t want to stop snowboarding, there are two slopes that offer night-riding.
The Powder - 4/5
The fact that numerous freeride competitions have been held here says a lot about the quality of Jasná’s terrain. There are no fewer than twelve official freeride zones, all accessible without any walking, and nearly all the tree run routes end up back at a piste, so if you do duck off the side, you won’t get lost.
These zones tend to be left alone by the Polish and Russian tourists, meaning it’s easy to get the good stuff all to yourself. If conditions are in your favour, check out the powder fields hidden amidst the Otupne trees – there are endless epic lines to be discovered!
The Parks - 3/5
Sponsored by DC, Jasná’s park employs a full-time team of shapers to keep the healthy selection of jumps and jibs in top condition. The area is served by an eight-seat gondola and has a good range of obstacles are on offer, from beginner to monster-sized kickers. Plus there’s an air bag jump that helps riders try new tricks without breaking bones.
At weekends you’ll find the local shredders floating over jumps and riding Slovakian steel, but come mid-week the park is generally uncrowded.
The best time for park rats is January when the hits are in tip-top condition, and also during the freestyle competitions when the shapers go all out to impress. Overall, the park is still developing and finding its feet but it’s getting better each season.
The Parties - 4/5
As the ski area is situated away from the main town, it’s not particularly well endowed with bars. The Happy End bar is your best bet for a Zlaty Bazant beer and a portion of ‘perogi’ at the end of the day. But for a proper night out, the town of Liptovsky Mikulas (fifteen minute’s drive from the slopes) is the place to get to know the real Slovakia.
"Head to Route 66 to strut your stuff alongside scantily-clad teeny boppers (and their mothers!) until 4am"
Pivnica is a favourite local bar, while Penzion Drak and the Soda Club are great places for a cheap bite. If you packed your dancing shoes, head to Route 66 to strut your stuff alongside scantily-clad teeny boppers (and their mothers!) until 4am. There is also a bowling alley and pool hall – plus the cheapest go-karting track you’re ever likely to find.
Propaganda Snowboards can easily arrange transport to and from their chalets to town, as well as guide you around the best places to sample Slovakian food, drink and partying at its best. And if Slovakia really takes your fancy, they also run wakeboarding holidays on the local lake come summer.