The Slovenia Times

Overly optimistic?



The coach, Matjaz Zupan, was cautiously optimistic before the season: "The training has been good, the summer season as well but it remains to be seen how we can adapt to snow." In order to make the training conditions as good as possible, the team and the coaches set an interesting example when they helped to prepare the hill in Planica for training purposes. Besides the World Cup, the biggest challenges this winter will be World Championships in Obersdorf in February (16 - 27) and the traditional Intersport competition held either side of the New Year. Zupan's goal for the World Cup events as well as the World Championships is one top-six finish and two top-15 finishes for each event. "With a bit of luck, there is always a chance for the top three. However, it is never possible to predict a podium in ski jumping," Zupan said. His optimism was based on the Summer Continental Cup, where newcomers Jernej Damjan and Primoz Pikl finished third and sixth, respectively, in the overall standings. Therefore, it is only natural that Damjan set himself higher goals: "First of all, I want to become a regular member of the national team. After that, my goal is to win points on a regular basis." Pikl's expectations are more modest and he is looking to pick up his first World Cup points, which he would then use as a basis for further development. Primoz Peterka, Peter Zonta and Robert Kranjec are far more experienced and all of them have enjoyed considerable successes in the past, including an Olympic bronze medal. Peterka has won 15 times on the World Cup circuit and has twice ended the World Cup season as the overall winner. After a deep crisis, he made an incredible comeback in 2002. However, he was unable to maintain that form and last season his best result was 12th. During the summer, his performances were very consistent and Zupan believes that he stands the best chance for a podium finish. Peter Zonta was injured during the summer and was not fully fit at the start of the winter season. "A lot depends on the first couple of competitions. A good result boosts your confidence and makes everything a lot easier. I make good jumps when I enjoy jumping. If the result is the one and only aim it usually brings no good," said Zonta. Despite the optimism, the first couple of World Cup events have proved disastrous. Only Damjan has picked up any points and has one top-ten finish to his credit. None of the others have even made it into the top 30. Besides the jumpers, cross-country skiers and biathletes are also a part of the national Nordic ski team. Their season began rather poorly, but then Tadeja Brankovic unexpectedly finished second in a 7.5 kilometre women's biathlon World Cup race in Finland. Andreja Mali and Andreja Koblar, nee Grasic, who is now married to a former alpine skier Jernej Koblar, are the other two Slovenian hopes in the biathlon. Petra Majdic has made significant progress in cross-country skiing in recent years and she is capable of making it to the top. The men's cross-country team is composed of Matej Soklic, Nejc Brodar and Joze Mehle. Soklic's goal is to make it into the top ten on a couple of occasions, while Brodar and Mehle will try to establish themselves in the World Cup. Janez Ozbolt, Matjaz Poklukar, Danilo Kodela, Martin Ponikvar, Marko Dolenc and Janez Maric will try their best in biathlon. They have often proved that they are capable of good results, especially when they compete in team events such as relays. ?op Sets His Sights on Torino Iztok Cop, a silver medallist in rowing in Athens, has decided to take up another challenge. His goal is to take part as a cross-country skier in the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Torino and he has already started training in Pokljuka, near Bled. In order to achieve his goal he will first have to qualify for the national World Cup team, which he can do through the European Cup. To qualify for Torino, he will have to finish 16th or better in at least one of the World Cup races. "I have the power but I struggle with the technique," were Cop's first impressions.


More from Nekategorizirano