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Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Sarka P's snowboarding shenanigans


When she's not snowboarding she's running, surfing, doing yoga, boudering, reading...

"Do you sell cappuccinos?" asks Sarka Pancochova, sitting down at a bar at the the base of Blackcomb after a full-on day of hitting rails, jumps, and the quarterpipe at Camp of Champions.

I'm more stunned than the bartender. Isn't her homeland of Czech Republic known as the highest amount of beer drinkers per capita?

"Oh, we have the best beer in the world," she chirps, debating if having one will slow her down before she powers through full-on yoga-followed-by-climbing-gym session, and finally asks, "Do you have organic beer?"

Settling on a locally brewed, Sarka explains that this is how her and the One Life crew live their lives: environmentally conscious, eating local and organic foods, yoga, and giving back into this world.

One Life -- Chanelle Sladics, Jamie Anderson, Kjersti Buaas, Tara Dakides, Bev Veuilleumier, Marie-France Roy, Izzy Lalive -- was created four years ago, when they were all traveling together and realized the need to not be too serious.

"I slapped Chanelle; she slapped me back," says Sarka, reminiscing back to when they were fighting at the top of a contest course. "We're not really a brand -- just a crew like Frends -- that wear stickers and make videos, and do episodes for Snowboarder Magazine pranking people."

"Pranking?" I ask.

"Yes," says Sarka, her grin widening. "My favorite is not out yet: One rainy day in Andorra, MFR and I wanted to prank Kjersti, so we picked up dog poop in a plastic bag from outside, and put it in what we thought were Kjersti's gloves that were resting on the heater. In the morning, Kjersti picked up two pairs of gloves and gave Chanelle one. MFR and I were filming, and we're both like 'oops,' turn the camera, and catch Chanelle putting her fingers into the gloves."

Sarka busts a backside one at COC, stoked just to be riding and not competing.

Beyond the tomfoolery, they film to inspire living eco-friendly. For instance, the girls made one video on using recycling bags; whereas, Sarka goes shopping at a health food store and forgets a carry-away tote, and tries to hold all the groceries sans bag, which leads to her dropping everything. But an ever better example -- Sarka missed because of knee surgery -- a few girls went to Argentina, and gathered 2000 plastic bottles and with bamboo sticks made a greenhouse in Bariloche.

"I've learned a lot from Chanelle and Kjersti," enthuses Sarka. "They help me in life."

Sarka rents a home in Zlin, Czech with her brother, but lives with Sladics in Oceanside, California, for part of the summers. On an average day, Sarka kicks off her mornings by turning up her music and doing yoga with tons of vinyasas, goes for a run, works out with a trainer, comes home for a surf, takes her recently-purchased mountain bike and cycles to a rock-climbing place, bikes back and goes for an evening surf and a yoga class.

"I also read books," says Sarka, "like "Four Agreements," by Don Miguel Ruiz, which are about life coaching. Speaking of, I am finishing up a two-year Red Bull documentary with Czech rider, Martin Cernik. It's about how he is this old star and I am the young one, and how he gives his experience to me and how our paths are crossing."

Calling it a wrap at COC with a handplant over Whistler valley.

Cernik has been a huge influence and has become not only a good friend -- she learned to surf two-years back at his camp in Hossegor, France -- but Sarka's life coach, always helping with sponsors and decisions.

"It's so nice because he can help because he has gone through it before. I would love to help someone in Czech one day. I actually started university for sport management and coaching. I especially like the psychology part, but it's hard to keep up, being gone all the time."

"Winter's tight and all over the place, all the time," she says about her hectic competing schedule, and even though she got second in Slopestyle at the World Championships last season, is heading for Russia in both Pipe and Slope, and is as comfortable in the air to throw down a front 9 in the pipe as she is to spin 9s off booters, she would love to try to figure out a way to do less contests and film more backcountry and ride more powder.

"Competing is fun and important because I am young, but if you do it too much, it takes from you. I want to find a balance where my sponsors are happy, so I can do something for myself like ride big lines in Jackson and Alaska. It was so sick and unreal going to Tailgate Alaska with Flow last April. The mountains looked fake; it was kind of scary, but so cool to be in a helicopter, and the chopper would stop on a place this wide," she says putting her hands about two feet apart, almost launching out of the chair with enthusiasm. "It was so deep. Oh my god, I feel it; I feel it. I have that rush right now... it's like surfing."