Ski Jumping in Planica

Planica. Photo: Darinka Mladenovič

March 2008

Planica is popularly referred to as 'the valley under the Ponce'. In its highest, furthermost end it extends into one of the most beautiful parts of the Julian Alps – the Tamar Valley. The Planica flying hill in NW Slovenia will host between Friday and Sunday the final ski-jumping World Cup meet of this season.

The history of ski jumping in Slovenia began with the first record and championship, held in Bohinj in 1921, when the first champion Jože Pogačar set the record with a nine-metre jump. The first ski-jump was built in Planica before 1930. Stanko Bloudek gave a significant note to further construction of ski jumps.

At this weekend’s competition Slovenia will be represented by ten ski jumpers. "This weekend all eyes will be focused on Planica, on the hill which previously brought lots of joy to Slovenians. I hope that our jumpers will manage to repeat their successes from the last season," management director of Nordic skiing, Primož Ulaga, said ahead of the event.

The head coach of the Slovenian ski jumping team, Ari-Pekka Nikkola, has only one goal for the end of the season: "I just want the guys to make jumps I know they are able to make and to give their best before the home crowd," said the Finnish ski jumping legend.

The best Slovenian jumper this season, Jernej Damjan, who last year won a podium finish at Planica, is looking forward to flying at the wold's largest jumping hill in the world. "Planica is always something special, and ski jumping is a sport in which everything can turn upside down in a moment," said Damjan, referring to his recent poor performances.

Robert Kranjec, the best flier in the Slovenian team, meanwhile said that he would not pay attention to metres, records and results, but would make sure his flights are technically perfect. "I always feed off the crowd at Planica and this is certainly the biggest motivation you can get," he added.

Other Slovenian representatives at the three events that are to determine this-year's overall World Cup winner will be Primoz Peterka, Jure Šinkovec, Jurij Tepeš, Primož Pikl, Rok Urbanc, Jure Bogataj, Mitja Mežnar and Rok Mandl.

According to the organisers, the flying hill is prepared for jumps of up to 245 metres, while about 50,000 ski flying fans are expected to gather under the hill. The world record, set at 239 metres in 2005 by Norway's Bjuern Einar Romoeren, will be in danger weather permitting, added the organisers