Last Year's Results Would be Great!
in Planica in February 2004. MatjaZ Zupan is very satisfied with the summer season and all the training sessions that have followed. Team B also performed very well in the Continental Cup and because of their results; Slovenia will now have 8 competitors in the World Cup. This year the World Cup season will start in Kuusamo, Finnland. Zupan has selected PrimoZ Peterka, Robert Kranjec, Rok BenkoviC, Damjan Fras, Peter Zonta, Bine NorCiC, PrimoZ Pikl and Jure Radelj for the first two individual competitions on the big hill (K=120 metres) in Kuusamo on November 28th and 29th . Zupan is very optimistic before the start of the season: ''Everything is going to plan so far. Our jumpers are very motivated and are looking forward to starting the new season. Everybody has improved their fitness levels and before the first competition we will train at Lillehammer, Norway. Our main goal of the season is the Ski Flying World Championships in Planica in February. We want to have one of the jumpers among the best six in our home event.'' Last year the ski jumping season also started in Kuusamo and the first winner was PrimoZ Peterka, who has made an unbelievable comeback over the last two years. He is considered the best Slovene ski jumper ever. In 1997 and 1998 he won the World Cup overall standings and in 1997 he was a winner of the prestigious Four Hills competition. After three terrible seasons without any success, he finally made a giant step in the right direction as a member of the Olympic bronze medal winning team in Salt Lake City in February 2002. In his interviews six years ago, it seemed as if he couldn't even speak a few normal sentences. Since then, however, he has developed his personality and has also become a proud father of 2-year old Maj. Last year he finished the season in sixth place overall after 28 competitions, with two victories in Kuusamo and Garmisch-Partenkichen. At the Summer Grand Prix he was seventh overall and his confidence level is very high: ''I must continue to progress, summer was very good, but winter is far more important. Everybody is working hard to improve themselves. I really like the jumping hill in Kuusamo, perhaps I can do it again this year. Last year we made a mistake, because we travelled to Japan. This year I will not compete in Sapporo and Hakuba. I expect the best results at Planica.'' One of the best young Ski jumpers in the World Cup is certainly Rok BenkoviC, the 17-year-old from Kamnik, who exploded onto the scene in the summer Grand Prix. He was second in Innsbruck and fourth in the overall standings. His best result last winter was coming eighth in Oslo. Damjan Fras and Peter Zonta didn't have their best results last season and hope to improve their performances this year. Robert Kranjec, the 22-year-old from Kranj, was third in Willingen last season, but he's supposedly set his goals really high this year and will be more consistent in his results. Radelj, NorCiC and Pikl deserved their place in team A, because of good results in the Continental Cup. Slovenia will also have a very strong team B, coached by Gorazd PogorelCnik. Team B prepared for the winter season in St. Moritz, Switzerland. If some of the members of team A are not be in shape, replacements will be found from team B. There are a lot of World Cup favourites this year. Adam Malysz will try to win the overall standings for the fourth consecutive season. Sven Hannawald, Martin Schmitt, Janne Ahonen, Matti Hautamaeki, Andreas Widhoelzl and others have their plans too. After the season opener in Kuusamo, the World Cup will continue in Trondheim (Norway), Titisee-Neustadt (Germany), and Engleberg (Switzerland), before the Four Hills will start in Oberstdorf on December 29th . Planica will host the Skiflying World Championships from February 19th to February 22nd and the Continental Cup competition on the normal hill (K=90 metres) on January 3rd . So ski jumping fans in Slovenia will have another great opportunity to see the best jumpers in action. In March this year more than 120,000 spectators visited Planica over the four days of the competition, expect a similar number in 2004.