The Slovenia Times

Crown for Kranjec

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After years of struggling and mediocre results, the team virtually exploded this year. One man has always been there - Robert Kranjec. Being a part of the team that won a bronze medal at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games and also the team that could not find its way out from the doldrums, he has been from heaven to hell and back. It seems everything changed with the arrival of a new coach, Goran Janus. Kranjec, 30, has been regularly finishing in the top 10 in the World Cup and fireworks were anticipated ahead of the ski flying championship. "I would have been happy with a bronze, too, but being the champion is something special, something that every athlete dreams about. I hope I am not dreaming. I hope that someone will not wake me up, saying, 'Come on, let's go, the event will start soon'", said Kranjec immediately after the competition. With a jump of 217.5 metres, he was third after the first round. His second jump of 244 metres (a new Slovenian record, just 2.5 metres shy of the world record) secured him gold after second placed Austrian, Martin Koch, fell on landing and Rune Velta of Norway was simply not good enough to beat Kranjec. Interestingly, he also became the oldest ski flying champion at 30 years, 224 days.
To make things even better, Slovenia won a bronze medal at the team competition the next day, behind Austria and Germany and comfortably ahead of Norway. In addition to Kranjec, the team included Jurij TepeҰ, Jernej Damjan and Jure ҆inkovec. The team showed great team spirit when they displayed a 'Get well soon, Pero' sign on television, to wish all the best to Peter Prevc, who was on par with Kranjec until his injury in Obersdorf when he fell on landing.
Ski jumping mania in Slovenia is great news for the World Cup finals to be held in Slovenia, at Planica, from 16-18 March. It has traditionally been the best attended sporting event in Slovenia, attracting tens of thousands of people. Nobody dares to predict what will happen this year. Probably, never in its history, has Slovenia had so many competitive jumpers aiming for the very top. It seems that 2012 could finally see the first Slovenian victory at Planica. Whatever happens, it will be a true celebration of ski flying and a chance for the fans to see the World Champion and the bronze team at work.
 

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