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Slovenian double win wraps up World Cup season in Planica
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Slovenian double win wraps up World Cup season in Planica

Peter Prevc. Photo: Stanko Gruden/STA

Peter Prevc and Robert Kranjec wrapped up a dream season for Slovenian ski jumping on March 20, taking first and second place in the second double Slovenian win of the World Cup finale on the giant hill in Planica.

Prevc, who had secured the overall World Cup win prior to Planica, cemented his place in the history books with the record 15th individual victory of the season and 22nd podium finish. The 23-year-old jumped 238 and 241.5 metres, beating Kranjec, who flew 234 and 233 metres, by 15 points. Johann Andre Forfang of Norway came in third. In the World Cup standings Prevc beat runner-up Severin Freund of Germany by over 800 points with 2,303 points won in the season, another all-time record.

His win wraps up a season that sports commentators are already describing as one-of-a-kind. The star jumper was quick to point out that such an extraordinary season is unlikely to become the norm. "A lot happened this year, I was strong, performed well throughout. I have warn that it will be difficult to repeat such a season," he said. Prevc not only won the overall rankings and broke the individual records, he also won the prestigious Four Hills Tournament and the separate ski-flying rankings, where Kranjec finished second.

The 2015/2016 season also established Slovenia as a ski jumping superpower, as Prevc pulled the entire team ahead. In the Cup of Nations Slovenia came in second for the first time in history, ceding only to Norway, the birthplace of ski jumping. "We took everything we could," head coach Goran Janus told reporters. The team is also very cohesive, with key members close friends. This was evident throughout the four days of competition in Planica, as the team members cheered each other on.

Prevc's dream season was also reflected in attendance, as about 100,000 people came to Planica for the four days of competition. Planica, the symbolic centre of Slovenian ski jumping, was a curse for Prevc last year, with a weak final jump costing him the overall World Cup win.

Planica: global gem without rival

Between 17 and 20 March, Planica demonstrated its unrivalled capability to host and organise major competitions and sporting events. Boasting over 13,000 ski jumps and other activities in 2015, Planica has become the most utilised ski jumping centre in the world. Every year, the ski jumping finals in Planica represent a full-scale dress rehearsal for organising the world championship. The coveted prize of hosting such a prestigious event has now become a thoroughly realistic goal thanks to the completion of the Nordic Centre. Over the years Planica has developed into a sporting icon and a cherished tradition whose popularity and status have grown over the decades – a tradition passed down from generation to generation. Abroad, too, this finale of the ski jumping season in Planica is remarkably popular and viewed most favourably – after all, this is one of the few things that we Slovenians are known for and excel at.

It is said that a trip to Planica is a must for anyone visiting Slovenia since it has grown into one of our nation’s most important tourist attractions. The Nordic Centre, combined with the great successes of Slovenian ski jumpers and the 80-year tradition of ski jumping in Planica, have become almost synonymous with the anthem, language or culture of Slovenia itself, and indeed they have come to represent a significant part of the nation’s identity. Planica is certainly one of the most recognised, iconic symbols of Slovenia – one in which Slovenia takes great pride. It undoubtedly enhances the tourist offering and image of the country in the world, which has positioned itself as a green, active and healthy destination, and for this it is rightly renowned throughout the world.

Slovenia in bid to host world championship

Photo: Aljoša Rihtar/STA

The Ski Association of Slovenia is mounting a bid to organise the Ski Flying World Championship in 2020 and the Nordic World Championship in 2021. The decision on the organiser will be made in June at the International Ski Federation (FIS) Congress in Cancun, Mexico. The FIS Council will hold a secret ballot on the three candidates: Planica (Slovenia), Oberstdorf (Germany) and Trondheim (Norway). In order to win, Slovenia needs nine votes from a total of seventeen Council members. Currently the largest event for which Slovenia is bidding on the international arena requires political support of all stakeholders in Slovenia. This is an exceptional opportunity for Slovenians to present themselves globally since the history of Planica is rich in sports achievements and holds a significant place in the hearts of Slovenians. Planica is the only candidate for the ski flying world championship, whereas in the Nordic category, it is competing against two strong candidates and for the third consecutive occasion.

The ambassadors of the candidacy are Petra Majdič, former cross-country skier and an Olympic medallist and Franci Petek, former ski jumping world champion. Slovenia cooperates closely with the neighbouring municipalities Tarvisio in Italy and Villach in Austria. Villach would even provide funding for Slovenia’s candidacy since it is aware of the importance of such an event in its vicinity, which would attract over 1,500 competitors and accompanying personnel. Furthermore, the visitors would occupy all available accommodation facilities in the Gorenjska region and in the surrounding areas of Tarvisio and Villach.

With the help of EU funds, a new Nordic centre was constructed in Planica worth EUR 42 million, which is the most modern centre for cross-country skiing in the world. The centre includes eight ski jumping hills from a 20-metre jumping hill to a 225-metre flying hill. It is distinguished by modern cross-country trails with support technology for the production of artificial snow and appertaining infrastructural facilities. The centre is sited on the edge of the Triglav National Park and complies with all environmental requirements. Since the Nordic Centre was constructed almost entirely with EU funds, it is only right that it displays its applicability and character in hosting great sporting events.

Text by Vesna Žarkovič

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