Šárka Pančochová has packed a lot of snowboarding into one career. Starting out in her home mountain of Morava Pico in the Czech republic, Sarka quickly gained attention by literally dominating the local contests and it didn’t take her long to step up to the international contest circuit. Sarka’s riding stood out amongst her peers with Snowboarder Mag’s head honcho, Pat Bridges calling Sarka the best overall female rider in the world. This lead to Sarka mocking the levels of Women’s snowboarding and she often remarked how the other riders needed to step up their games and do better tricks.
Since then, Sarka has become less outspoken but remains a dominant force on the circuit. With an ability to ride slopestyle, big air, pipe and backcountry, she has cemented herself as one of the best woman riders to ever strap into a board. Here we talk to Sarka about backside rodeos to the flat, smashing her helmet in half at the Olympics, 50,000 facebook followers in a day and much more – by Tom Kingsnorth
When you first broke into the scene you were quite vocal about the standard of women’s snowboarding overall and suggested it wasn’t that great. Has your opinion changed and what do you think of women’s snowboarding now?
The progression of Women’s snowboarding has been crazy since I started snowboarding. From partying every night back then, now we actually have to train and behave ourselves to make it through the season. Haha, I have changed my mind about women snowboarding, I find it actually a lot more interesting to watch then men’s, because you never know who is gonna win with what trick.
You quickly gained attention for doing those huge backside rodeos, you don’t seem to do them anymore, do you still like to throw those from time to time?
I ate shit on one of those a while back and haven’t been doing them as much as I used to. But I love doing BS rodeos and backflips from time to time. If I don’t do few flip trick in my season I don’t feel like a real snowboarder, so I gotta do them haha.
You had a really bad slam at the Sochi Olympics resulting in being knocked unconscious and your helmet broken in half. How were you immediately after that slam, can you remember anything from after it?
I remember everything somehow. But I was doing an interview right after with Czech TV and I was talking totally out of place and not making any sense so I guess I slammed hard. The thing is, we hit our heads a lot and this time you got to see it on TV. We always ride in pain and nobody complains and we just keep going because snowboarding is just worth the pain.
That bail got shown across the world, multiple times. Did you get more famous as a result of that?
I got 50 000 followers on FB overnight.
Talking of fame, it seems every time you ride you get stopped by loads of Czech people asking for autographs and selfies, are you a big name in Czech?
Well I don’t know but I guess Czech media don’t have much to talk about. I have my photo series Peeing with a View and the Czech Bulvar just put up a photo of me pissing with caption the “What does Sarka mean by peeing like that? “
How is the Czech snowboard scene, which riders should we look out for?
Peter Horak is pretty good. He shreds like a boss.
Everyone is saying that it’s a tough time for snowboarding and snowboarders. Are you finding that to be the case? Is it harder to get sponsorship and deals these days?
I don’t take anything for granted and I also don’t like to complain. If you are good enough, the sponsors will find you. Back in the day the brands were giving out product like crazy and now they don’t. It’s worse then it was for people that were not really committed to become pros, but it’s not stopping me from doing the actual activity and money will come and go.
You took a year off competing after Sochi to focus on several video projects, most recently, Shark Tales and Maas Attacks. What is the idea behind the show?
The idea is to entertain people and do something different. Snowboarding is fun and we try to show all the parts of it not just a great performance. Pretty much it’s following two kooks around the world doing stupid crap.
You spend a lot of time with Cheryl Maas, is she an inspiration to you?
Cheryl is a champ and always has been. I looked up to her before I even started snowboarding. I’m glad we got to meet and became pretty much best friends on tour and real life.
You started out riding both pipe and slopestyle, will we see you riding Pipe, slopestyle and big air at the upcoming games?
It’s almost impossible to ride all three disciplines. Already with Slope and Big Air I had fifteen comps this year, so I don’t think I can actually pull it off physically. But I love riding pipe and I still ride it, it improves more snowboard skills rapidly.
What are your plans for when you finally quit snowboarding professionally?
I think I’m going to be a sports psychologist coach. I came to the idea recently while working with my own psychologist coach and I became really interested in it.