Janez Gorišek, a civil engineer who designed the giant hill in Planica in the late 1960s together with his older brother Vlado and is considered a pioneer of ski flying, has died aged 89.
The giant hill in Planica was built in 1969 as the largest such facility in the world at the time and paved the way for a new discipline, ski flying, that the International Ski Federation (FIS) recognised as an official event in 1971.
Janez and Vlado, who died in 1997, also designed the ski centre for the 1984 Olympic Games in Sarajevo and worked on approximately a hundred other ski jumping hills around the world.
According to a 2021 book on the lives of the two brothers by Rajko Šugman, more than three quarters of all world records in ski flying have been recorded on hills designed or reconstructed by the Gorišek brothers.
Planica was long the place where world records were broken. This changed in the 2010s after Janez Gorišek and his son Sebastjan worked on the reconstruction of the giant hill in Vikersund, Norway.
Indeed, the “magic mark” of 250 metres was first broken in Vikersund in 2015 by Slovenian jumper Peter Prevc, who was at the peak of his career at the time.
At a ceremony making the 50th anniversary of the Planica giant hill in 2020, Gorišek said his great wish was for the world record to return to Planica.
But he acknowledged that breaking records “was easier in the past than it will be in the future”.
Born in Ljubljana in 1933, Gorišek started ski jumping at the age of eight but was never among the top Slovenian jumpers.
Instead he dedicated his life to engineering after he graduated in civil engineering in 1961. He remained active until his retirement in 2003. His son Sebastjan is now continuing his work.