Polish Language Blog

Let’s ski in Kotelnica! Posted by on Jan 9, 2014 in Places to visit

Just years ago, winter was a dead season for the Kotelnica Mountain, quiet under a quilt of snow.

Today Kotelnica vibrates with activity from countless ski fans who flock to the new resort, one of Poland’s most trendy.

The amazing transformation happened in a decade and reflects the inventiveness and spirit of enterprise seen in Poland since a market economy arrived with democracy in 1990.

This 17th-century village at the foot of the Tatra Mountains in southern Poland was making a modest living on farming and sheep breeding, with some additional funds coming from relatives who had gone – in a long-standing tradition – to the United States for work.

Then, in 2000, some 50 farmers put their heads together and started up a joint venture to develop a ski resort, similar to the ones that some of them had seen in Austria or Switzerland.

Each member contributed a sum of money, while they also took a 2 million złoty (now $650,000; (EURO)480,000) bank loan and bought an Italian ski lift from another community in Poland that never had it installed.

Ten years on, Białka Tatrzańska, about an hour and a half drive from the Renaissance city of Kraków, is among Poland’s leading centers for skiers of all ages and levels, a favorite family winter sports venue, though less demanding and more modest compared to many Western European resorts.

A recent ranking of Poland’s ski centers by the Onet.pl Internet portal listed it as the country’s second most popular ski resort based on quality of slopes and other amenities. In first place was Krynica Górska, which has been around longer and boasts more challenging slopes.

Białka Tatrzańska has a school employing some 80 instructors who stay busy in their black-and-orange jackets from morning until well after dark. It has six large and nine small ski lifts that take some 15,000 skiers per hour to the top of the Kotelnica and Bania mountain slopes. The longest route is 1.4 kilometers (0.9 mile).

At the foot of the Kotelnica peak, the village of less than 2,000 residents now thrives on visitors who mostly lodge in private houses, eat at the inns and shop in newly-built supermarkets. Some 10,000 tourists can be accommodated at a time.

Białka’s reputation has spread across Poland’s borders, with Russian, Ukrainian, German and even English heard on the slopes, although not much foreign publicity has been done.

Has any of you skied there? I’m thinking about Poland’s ski vacation and would love to hear more about this place:)

Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)

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About the Author: Kasia

My name is Kasia Scontsas. I grew near Lublin, Poland and moved to Warsaw to study International Business. I have passion for languages: any languages! Currently I live in New Hampshire. I enjoy skiing, kayaking, biking and paddle boarding. My husband speaks a little Polish, but our daughters are fluent in it! I wanted to make sure that they can communicate with their Polish relatives in our native language. Teaching them Polish since they were born was the best thing I could have given them! I have been writing about learning Polish language and culture for Transparent Language’s Polish Blog since 2010.