The Slovenia Times

Simon Demšar



Despite many ups and downs, Slovenia has played an important role in the competition since its inception in 1979, culminating in Primož Peterka's overall World Cup wins in 1997 and 1998. This year's expectations are modest but well-founded, and the team knows what it is doing in preparation for the Olympic Games in Vancouver and ski flying World Championship in Planica in 2010.

At the team launch, team manager Primož Ulaga was quick to point out that financial conditions have never been better: "EUR 2.4 m is available for the Nordic team, compared to 0.9 million in 2002, when I arrived." He also warned that the global financial crisis would sooner or later hit skiing, too, and "only the best will survive."

This puts extra pressure on the shoulders of coach Matjaž Zupan, sporting director Franci Petek and their team of jumpers. It will be led by Jernej Damjan, who will be supported by Robert Kranjec and Primož Pikl, while the cohort of young guns will be waiting in the wings.

There is also Primož Peterka, who seems to never give up. The 29-year old has been fighting for nearly a decade to make a comeback, but with the exception of a few bright moments (including team's bronze medal at the 2002 Olympic Games), he hasn't been able to do so. He will begin the season on Team B, ready to jump in if an opportunity arises.

Petek revealed the goals for the coming season: "In the World Cup, our objective is a handful of podium finishes and a top 12 overall position. At the Four Hills competition, we hope for at least one top 10 result and at the World Championship in Liberec, Czech Republic, in February, for a top 6."

For the first time in history, the World Championship will also feature a women's event. Slovenia will count on Maja Vtič. According to Petek, she can make it into the top 10, probably top 6.

Zupan is happy with the preparation for the new season and considers Petek's plans realistic under the condition that there are no injuries and other health problems: "We would also like to enlarge the group of competitive jumpers. I give you my word that we will do our best and make a step forward during the winter."

Damjan was out of action for most of the summer Grand Prix competition, but he plays it down: "The injury deprived me of the summer season, but taking a longer break was the right thing to do. I have no problems now. Physically, I am almost where I should be; now I need get hungry for competition." He is aware of the pressure that his number one status brings, but according to Zupan, it will only further motivate him.

The coaching team's priority is also to raise the level of professional work and, with this in mind, they have adopted a new approach and methodology, which should pay dividends this year. The new approach includes a sophisticated training laboratory and further development of ski jumping facilities in Kranj, which is becoming an increasingly important centre, together with its traditional ski jumping event.

The long-term objective is to build a solid foundation of young jumpers. With this aim in view, Petek plans to promote ski jumping among children: "In order to encourage young kids, who haven't taken up 'real' ski jumping yet, we will organize regional competitions with alpine skis."

Majdič to Defend Her Position

After winning last year's World Cup, cross country skier Petra Majdič cannot aim any higher: "My main goal is the World Championship in Liberec and the other one is Tour de Ski, where I would like to improve on my previous best - 6th place in the overall standings. Of course, I want to do my best at each and every World Cup event."

Her coach, Ivan Hudač, was particularly happy to see the whole team training together more often than last year, which should help the up-and-coming skiers make a step forward.


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