The Slovenia Times

Prevc given an emotional send-off in Planica

Ski jumping legend Peter Prevc ends his sporting career. Photo: Anže Malovrh/STA
Peter Prevc, Slovenia's best ski jumper of all times, ended his sporting career after a successful season finale in Planica with a ceremony in his honour at which few, including himself, were able to hold back their tears.

A crowd of almost 20,000 spectators gathered for the final event of the ski flying festival on 24 March, held in sunny weather with a dusting of fresh snow over the treetops.

Only when he was on top of the giant hill preparing for his last jump, did it hit Prevc that it was truly the last. He felt tightness in his chest, "but these were only positive emotions."

The 31-year-old eagle ended his career on a high, placing 6th in the final competition, after winning the first of the two individual events on 22 March and finishing second with his team mates in the team event the following day.

Having placed second in four earlier events since announcing his retirement in February, Prevc placed 5th in the overall World Cup standings in his last season.

"Today marks the end of my 22-year career," he said at the ceremony. "It was full of everything, from short jumps to the longest. It was a long, happy, successful road."

Prevc thanked the fans who came to support him. "I thought to myself 'There are so many people here, so much respect, support, cheering and gratefulness'," he added, his voice cracking with emotion.

He received heartfelt congratulations from many of his competitors, which he said means a lot to him as the ski jumpers are not very close-knit.

A long-time captain of Slovenia's team, Prevc was also cheered on by his teammates, some even wrote Thanks Peter on their helmets for Sunday's event.

"I have to thank him for everything, be it praise or scolding, I remember everything," said Lovro Kos, while Anže Lanišek said he had the utmost respect for Prevc, who helped the team even when he was not feeling his best.

Prevc is ending his career with 36 World Cup wins, of which 24 individual, one overall World Cup title and three Ski Flying titles, as well as four medals from the Olympics. He was the first person to jump 250 metres in 2015.

He will be best remembered for his performance in the 2015/16 season, when he won 12 consecutive events for a total of 15 wins and 22 podiums at 29 events. He scored a record 2,303 points that season and held the highest lead ever ahead of his competition.

His farewell ceremony saw performance by some of Slovenia's best known musical acts and he was sent off on his new path with Andrea Bocelli's Con te partirò, known under its English title Time to Say Goodbye.

Prevc says he is looking forward to his new chapter in life although he has not said yet what this will be. First he will spend more time with his family, his wife Mina and sons Ludvik and Oskar.

"I'm looking forward to spending days with my family, in particular in winter. Ludvik is off to school and we haven't had much chance to ski together. His father put his career first and my family put very well up with it," Prevc told an event for some 500 guests in Kranjska Gora later.

The eldest of the Prevc siblings, four of which have made careers as ski jumpers, Peter is now handing over to his brother Domen Prevc, who placed second in the final event in Planica, and his sister Nika, who won the women's overall World Cup this year.

Austria's Daniel Huber won the final event to win the ski flying classification, while his compatriot Stefan Kraft took the large crystal globe as the overall World Cup winner. Austria won the Nations Cup ahead of Slovenia and Germany.

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