The Slovenia Times

Ski Jumping: Renovated Hill in Planica Hosting Season Finale



Opened on Monday after nearly two years of work, the overhauled hill in the iconic ski jumping valley is expected to provide plenty of excitement with competitors able to fly to around the world record of 251.5 metres in the event of favourable weather conditions.

While the first official training session is scheduled for Thursday morning, testing on the new hill will start already on Wednesday. The first of two individual competitions will be held on Friday. The team event is scheduled for Saturday, with the second individual event - the last of the season - on Sunday.

Long the home of the longest jumps in the world, Planica decided to renovate the giant hill to keep up with competition from Kulm in Austria and Vikersund in Norway. The latter has been the site of flying records since 2011, following renovations performed in 2010.

Work on the giant hill Planica, which has included modifying the inrun, was overseen by Janez Gorišek, who with his brother Lado designed the original hill in the late 1960s and is considered one of the foremost experts on ski flying hills in the world.

The renovation works are part of a broader development project in the valley that will see the flying facilities combined with cross country tracks and other sports facilities into a Nordic centre. The EUR 40m investment is scheduled for completion by the end of the year.

While the calculation point on the giant hill has not been changed from 200 metres, the distance markings now run up to 255 metres and the slope straightens up at 252 metres, which the designers consider a safe landing distance.

The organisers have maintained that breaking the record is not a priority, but rather enabling many competitors to achieve long jumps. "But the absolute first priority is safety," said the chief of competition Jelko Gros.

Gros explained that getting close to the record distance would require a combination of favourable circumstances. "You need to have the right headwind and also at least two competitors who are able to push each other."

Only last month, the world record was broken twice in as many days in Vikersund, first by Slovenia's Peter Prevc, who became the first person ever to jump 250 metres, and then by Anders Fannemel of Norway.

All eyes of fans in Slovenia in the coming days will be squarely on Prevc, as he fights for the overall World Cup title. But it will be a tall order: after holding the lead for much of the season, he currently trails the in-form Severin Freund of Germany by 94 points.

Prevc will lead a Slovenian contingent that will also feature veterans Robert Kranjec and Jernej Damjan, flying specialist Jurij Tepeš, and young talents Nejc Dežman and Matjaž Pungertar.


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