The Slovenia Times

History in the Making



In the past, there have been a few humble attempts to tackle this discipline, but for the most part downhillers have been left to their own devices. Some top-ranking national officials have even gone so far as to publicly state that "downhill is not for Slovenians" because Slovenian ski resorts don't have adequately-sized slopes to train on. Thus, the "crazy ones" never really enjoyed any public support. With Krizaj, Petrovic and Kosir winning in the slalom and others meeting success in the giant slalom, it is unsurprising that young kids had no role models and little interest in the downhill. Janez Pletersek was the first to give it a try. Looking back, one could say that it was more due to national pride rather than promise, with the former country (Yugoslavia) wanting to make up numbers in as many events as possible ahead of the 'home town' Olympic Games in Sarajevo in 1984. Pletersek took the business seriously though and won four national titles between 1982 and 1986. Urban Planinsek, now the head of the national men's team, was the next downhill Don Quixote. He was national champion once but failed to leave a mark in the World Cup. Until the arrival of Ales Brezavscek in the mid 1990's, our downhillers were further from the World Cup level than ever before. Brezavscek was the first Slovenian with the potential to succeed on the international stage. He managed to turn in some promising results, including a sixth place. However, just as he appeared to be moving up to the next level, he was forced to turn his back on the World Cup due to chronic injuries. He then took up speed skiing, where his personal and national speed record still stands at 240 km/h (11 km/h shy of the world record). Changed Forever To the surprise of most observers, Andrej Jerman has progressed further than anyone could possibly have predicted. In Bormio, he was fourth, only 0.43 sec behind the winner. He is currently 9th in the World Cup downhill standings. "I'm absolutely thrilled. Some people say that fourth place is unlucky but for me it is fantastic. I put a lot of effort into my training and have suffered a number of injuries, including a broken hand last summer. But the hard work has finally paid off and now I can enjoy the fruits," Jerman said after the historic result. Planinsek added: "Things have been looking good ever since the beginning of the season, which boosted Jerman's self-confidence. The downhill has always been underrated but thanks to Jerman, it is now the most successful discipline. The team has done an outstanding job during the preparation period and we are right up there with the top guys in terms of material." He hasn't been able to repeat a top five finish after Bormio and he failed to meet his own expectations (top ten) at the World Championships in Sweden, where he finished 17th, but with 28 years of age, time is on his side.


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