All is set in Kranjska Gora for two men’s giant slalom races to be held this weekend as part of the annual Alpine Skiing World Cup meet hosted by one of Slovenia’ biggest winter season destinations.
The alpine resort in the north-west is one of Slovenia’s two mainstay hosts of Alpine Skiing World Cup races. The other is Maribor in the north-east of the country, but its women’s events again needed to be relocated to Kranjska Gora earlier this year due to lack of snow.
Skiing being among the most popular sports in the country, a festive weekend is expected again in Kranjska Gora, in particular due to Slovenia’s favourite Žan Kranjec, the third-ranked giant slalom racer this season.
At what is the final meet before the World Cup finale, the 30-year-old will try to break the spell that has so far kept him off the podium at the home race. In case of a win, he would become the first Slovenian male skier with a Giant Slalom World Cup victory in Kranjska Gora.
The only Slovenian skier to have won a World Cup race on what is known as the Podkoren course is Mateja Svet, who won both the women’s slalom and giant slalom events relocated from Maribor in 1988.
Kranjec, an Olympic silver medallist, has seen a dip in his form after a tremendous start to the season. He fell short of a medal at the February World Championships, but he is hoping to end the season in grand style on the home course and in front of what is traditionally a large crowd.
“There is a lot of strong competition, this is clear to me, but there is no use thinking too much about who can beat you,” Kranjec, whose best giant slalom finish in Kranjska Gora to date is a fifth place from 2018, said before the races.
Kranjec, who finished fourth in the giant slalom overall rankings two as well as three years ago, has Austria’s Marco Schwarz and Swiss skier Loic Meillard closely behind him in fourth and fifth places.
The Kranjska Gora races are also likely to determine this season’s winner of both the overall and giant slalom World Cup. In both categories things are looking best for World and Olympic Champion Marco Odermatt from Switzerland, who won in Slovenia in 2020. Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen, who won both giant slalom races in Kranjska Gora last year, is still harbouring some hope in the giant slalom standings.
Large crowds are expected for the events in Kranjska Gora. Addmission is free for children under 6, for partners of male fans who bought a ticket on International Women’s Day and for all who arrive with a flag larger than 150 cm.