Jana Slobodová has been working in the Marketing and Business Support department of ista Slovakia since the spring of 2015. What many people do not know: in her sport she was once right at the top. As an Olympian in snowboarding, she took part in the winter games in Salt Lake City.
The most beautiful powder snow, brilliant blue skies and icy cold – those are perfect conditions for the Slovakian ista employee, who discovered snowboarding at the age of 15. How did it all start? “My family was sporty and always super-active,” says the now 43-year-old. “My father was always the driving force, but my entire family loves the mountains, nature and to a certain extent anything extreme. We went skiing, went on kayak tours, and did track and field athletics. Any sport that combines nature, speed and coordination is right up my street.”
One of the first
So it is no wonder that, when snowboarding became popular in the 1980s and 90s, she immediately “jumped on board”, so to speak. Together with friends and family, she helped this sport to achieve a breakthrough in Slovakia. Her brother built one of the first snowboards in Slovakia – in their own garage. They spent every weekend, every school holiday in the Slovak mountains, together with friends they founded the “The Slovak Snowboard Association“ and organised the first competitions.
Snowboarding – right to the top
Very soon Jana Slobodová (then still called Sedova) was taking part in the first international events: from 1997-2002 she was part of the Burton and Red Bull international snowboard team and took part in the Olympic Games in Nagano in 1998 and in Salt Lake City in 2002 – in the giant slalom event. There was great camaraderie in the still new sporting discipline, tremendous solidarity and a rather relaxed atmosphere. Competition yes but at a completely healthy level, the sportswoman recalls. Her greatest success? “Second in the ISF Snowboard World Pro Series Tour in 2000”, she says, her eyes shining.
From snowboarding to an event agency
However, after taking part in the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, she noticed that she had reached her performance limits and she started to think about what she could do after her snowboarding career. Without further ado, she set up Powerfrau, her own event agency. For seven years she organised sporting and cultural events. At the same time, she trained Czech and Slovak sportsmen and women. In 2006, she was the coach of Radoslav Židek, who won a silver medal at the Olympic Games. “That was almost better than my own victories,” Jana Slobodová says.
Juggling work and family life
Her first daughter was born in 2009, her second in 2011. “My daughters changed my life: I started to search for stability and security and looked for alternatives to the event industry. That’s how I landed up at ista in 2015.” Looking back and with the experience of today, she thinks she might have done some things differently and might have seen more possibilities but she was young and free and she has no regrets. Thanks to ista, she can now combine a family and a job very well. And there is also still enough time left for sport. She still spends a lot of time in the mountains with her daughters. “My personal dream is a trip around Alaska and Patagonia. I would like to experience the mountains and nature there together with friends.”