Sports in Krakow.
As in the rest of Europe,
football /soccer/ is the favorite
sport of Krakow residents, at least the male half: the young
play it, grown-ups watch it on TV. And the city’s football teams
inspire enthusiasm and loyalty of hordes of their fervent fans.
Notably supporters of the Wisla
Krakow club have a lot to enthuse about
in the recent years as their side has dominated Poland’s
premier league and won a string of the country’s
championships. Other popular – moderately – team games
include basketball, volleyball and ice hockey where Krakow's
Cracovia team has been calling the tune in the premier league in
recent years. Also rugby and
handball have their adherents. American football remains a
Few glaring exceptions notwithstanding–e.g. ,
baseball or cricket–virtually all professional sports are
practiced in Krakow’s numerous clubs, with contests regularly
held in the city. And many native sportsmen are major players in
the country’s or even international championships. Notably,
besides team games, Krakow champs stand out in Poland’s
tennis, judo, karate, swimming, gymnastics, car racing,
parachuting, chess, and table tennis. On top of it the city
boasts some of the best Polish athletes, such as the Olympics’
triple gold medalist Robert Korzeniowski (now retired), although track and
field sports stay mostly college and university
Among combat sports boxing still seems to gather the biggest
audiences, but those practicing kung-fu and even judo hugely
outnumber aspiring boxers in Krakow.
Winter sports in
Krakow proper are practically restricted to skating and ice
hockey but Poland’s capital of alpine skiing, Zakopane
in the Tatra
is just two hours’ drive away.
Sports in Krakow.
Sadly, sport activity is not the routine of an average
Krakow dweller. The city abounds in fine jogging paths
but few natives take advantage of it. Also bikeways
crisscrossing metropolitan Krakow and its environs
seem underused despite the city’s vocal group of ardent
cyclists. So, hiking remains the most popular outdoor
activity, and no wonder seeing that the
is famous for the beauty of its rolling, wooded countryside and
scenic landmarks, which also explains brisk sales of mountain bikes.
At the same time Krakow’s
pools are usually
overcrowded: outdoor ones in summer, those with a roof over them
the whole year round. Also playing
– on clay
courts mostly – is fairly popular pastime among Krakow residents, at
least those who can afford it (down the social ladder the table
version prevails). In winter downhill skiing largely
replaces tennis as winter resorts are
scattered throughout the region, with the nearest ski slope just
fifteen kilometers south of the city center. Squash, golf (there
are two 18-hole courses in the Krakow area) and bowling are quite
recent arrivals to the city with relatively few converts to
date. Billiards has been traditionally distant second to
table tennis among indoor games and played by few, but it gained
in popularity in the 1990s as snooker tables in pubs mushrooming
all over the city outnumbered their pool and carom counterparts.
quite frequent in downtown Krakow yet finding a decent fitness
club with the latest equipment may prove hard. Generally, they
fall in two categories–aerobics outfits for women of any age
and muscle-buildup dens for young men. Hunting
and fishing are centuries-sanctioned sports in Poland.
And both – especially the latter – retain considerable following
Sports in Krakow.
Some extreme sports, such as cliff climbing or parachuting,
have been around in Krakow for decades. Some are barely few
years old. Nowadays the former and the latter are more readily
accessible than ever to novices as various establishments offer
training and lease equipment if necessary. Numerous steep
vicinity of Krakow
and Alps-like Tatra
100 km south of the city have always lured young people to climbing.
In the past just preparation for “serious” mountaineering in
Alps and Himalayas, cliff climbing now is sport in its own
right. It is practiced also indoors on artificial walls. The bulk of
Poland’s thousand or so caves are found in the uplands just
north of Krakow and in the Tatra
two hours’ drive south from the city. Small wonder there has
never been a shortage of passionate cave explorers here.
Amateur spelunkers can find a number of caves in the Krakow area
outfitted for their absolute convenience. Canoeing
on mountain rivers south of Krakow, notably Dunajec in the
Pieniny range, is the most gratifying experience though a highly
risky one for novices (plus, Krakow boasts a
state-of-the-art artificial course for white-water kayaking). The shortest
basic course of parachuting takes two days and it costs
about 250 euro (one jump from an airplane included, next ones 10
so each). Course of paragliding lasts longer but once
accomplished it allows you to sail in the air all on your own
(with the help of a friend at the start on an even ground). Sure, some
practice scuba diving in landlocked Krakow but certainly
it bears no comparison to the exploration of tropical seas,
though extreme experience doubtless it is.