Being a pro freestyle snowboarder since the age of 16 in a country which doesn't provide a real snowpark is a hard job. Especially as snow itself is a rarity in Hungary with the country’s highest peak being only 1,014 metres. But nevertheless, snowboarding has some tradition, of almost three decades.
However, only a handful of riders have made it onto the international scene in the past 20 years, mainly in alpine events. A few have succeeded to enter freestyle World Cup events. 'Panka', who learned snowboarding at the age of 12, has been the most successful of them.
Thanks to moving to Austria a few years ago with the backing of her father.
She attended the Ski and Snowboard Handelsschule in Schladming, where athletes like Hermann Meier and Benjamin Karl were once students. This gave her the opportunity to train as much as she could, with appropriate trainers and in excellent snow parks.
Hard work paid off, with the Junior World Champion title back in 2011. Her results were quickly noticed and she became sponsored by Red Bull.
Nevertheless, 'Panka' who is the best friend of Slovakian shredder Klaudia Medlova has had some difficult times to go through, too.
She has just missed going to the Olympics in Sochi, being 25th in the nations’ ranking, just a few points off 24th which was the last qualifying place.
In addition, she also had to undergo an ACL right before the 2015 world championships where she wrote history for her home country by making it to the finals in the slopestyle event.
No Hungarian snow sports athlete has made it that far before.
But just before the final, during the warm-up runs, she crashed trying to perform a double backflip as she knew she needed to up her game.
She still wanted to compete in the finals though, but she wasn’t cleared by the doctors as she had suffered a shoulder fracture and serious concussion. As a result, she finished in 6th position which is still the best Hungarian result at world championships or Olympics in all snow sports.
As if that injury wouldn't have been enough, she overshot a landing at the World Cup finals in Spindleruv Mlyn, Czech which not only equaled an early season's end but also a delayed start into the new winter.
But after making through rehab quickly and training a lot overseas in Colorado, she not only improved her skills and added a few more tricks to her bag but also set another milestone for Hungary becoming the first ever snowboarder to win a World Cup event in Mammoth Mountain, CA in January 2016.
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