The Slovenia Times

Two Gold Medals for Norway in Changeable Weather Conditions



The most important thing was that the competition was not cancelled. Four years ago in Vikersund, Norway, the World Championships took place one day later than planned on the Monday morning with three jumps. In Harrachov, 2002, just one round was possible due to heavy winds in the Czech Republic. This year in Planica many journalists and spectators talked about the possibility of a new world record, but snowy and windy weather were not conducive to enormous jumps. Problems had already begun on the first day when two training jumps and a qualification round had to be cancelled because of heavy wind. Lj"kels"y Champion Every year Saturday is the main day at Planica. This year more than 300 buses came to the valley under Ponce and more than 30,000 spectators saw a great comeback by Roar Lj"kels"y and 12th place for Robert Kranjec. German Georg Sp"th couldn't stand the pressure and finished fourth, behind Janne Ahonen and Tami Kiuru from Finland. Roar has already won five World Cup competitions this year, but this was his biggest victory: ''I'm very happy. I fought like a lion all the way. I improved my form from one jump to another. Our coach Mika Kojonkoski did a great job, the Norwegian team is working perfectly, we are all friends, and Planica is my lucky place. I won my first World Cup points here in 1993, after that I was second on the 120-metre hill two years later. I'll be coming back with great memories'' Roar commented. The gold medal for Norway was the first in the Skiflying World Championships since 1988 in Oberstdorf. Sixteen years ago Ole Gunar Fidjest"l won ahead of Primoz Ulaga, who is now head of the Slovenian Nordic teams. The best Slovenian jumper was Robert Kranjec. After three rounds he was in sixth place but couldn't hold his position to the end, and he expected much more: ''In the World Championships only the medals count, last year I took 6th position in Predazzo and nobody knows that now. The last jump certainly wasn't my best, I was capable of much more than 12th place.'' Rok Benkovic finished in 21st. The Slovenian head coach, Matjaz Zupan, critically commented on the competition: ''Jury had only one goal - to finish the competition, the jumpers were flying in absolutely terrible conditions in the final round. Robert Kranjec unfortunately couldn't hold his excellent 6th place after the 3rd round. I'm still satisfied with the performances of Robert and Rok. Primoz Peterka and Peter Zonta failed to qualify, they are certainly not in their best form.'' Gold for Norway Norwegians also won the Team Skiflying World Championship competition on the final day in Planica. Bj"rn Einar Rom"ren, Sigurd Pettersen, Tommy Ingebrigtsen and Roar Lj"kels"y all jumped over 200 metres twice. The Silver medal went to Finland with Kiuru, Lindstr"m, M. Hautam"ki and Ahonen. Austria beat Germany in the battle for the bronze medal. Slovenia took 6th place behind Japan. Primoz Peterka and Bine Zupan could not reach 200 metres, Rok Benkovic was excellent with 206 and 215 metres (a personal best), Robert Kranjec also jumped over 200 metres twice. Matjaz Zupan was pleased with the results:"Peterka just isn't jumping constantly enough, Bine Zupan is a newcomer in the World Cup, he must learn a lot more. Benkovic was improving all the time and Kranjec also didn't disappoint. We have to know that the others were jumping very well.'' The Organisation is improving Two months ago the organizers were not absolutely sure if the competition would even take place. There were a lot of misunderstandings between the Slovenian Ski federation and the organizing committee at Planica. The main problem was of course money. Last year there were 120,000 spectators at Planica, but a lot less tickets were sold. Everything was cleared before the competition and hopefully the problems have now been solved. A lot of things were done at the last minute, but improvements are clear to see. A new box was built for guests, journalists and photographers. The German private television company RTL broadcast the event, and organisers built a tunnel under the Skiflying hill for them. We have to say that Planica is not just a big event for all Skiflying fans, it's also a big party, on the Saturday a lot of people were drunk and sadly this becomes a problem every year. The FIS Race Director Walter Hofer commented, ''This was one of the best Skiflying World Championships ever. In very tough weather conditions we managed to complete all the competitions, that is very positive. This year we had many problems in the World Cup, four times we had to cancel the competition, because of that, I was a little bit worried at the beginning. At an FIS meeting in Miami we'll decide the calendar for next winter. Planica is certainly in the programme next year.'' The date of the competition wasn't the best choice. In February the weather is very changeable, and of course the Ski holidays for school children were in the same week. Next year we all hope that the World Cup will be in March, with hopefully more than 60,000 spectators and maybe even a new world record.


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