Skip to main content

1934-1999: 65 YEARS OF SKI JUMPING IN PLANICA

March 1999

 

The Slovenes consider themselves pioneers of flights on skis. It is in Planica, one of the picturesque glacial valey in the northern part of the Julian Alps, in north-western Slovenia, where it all began.

 

How did it start? In that remote past, in the 1930s, skiing as a sport was already established in Slovenia, for our country is well known for its beautiful winters and numerous ski runs which were then still unspoilt. But the sport competition was then still in its infancy. A group of promising young men, amateurs of sports competitions, was then travelling to jumping competitions abroad, and admiring the unbeatable Norwegians. The General Secretary of the Yugoslav Winter-Sport Association Joso Gorec and the engineer Stanko Bloudek were among them. And it is those two that are responsible for Planica getting its first ski jump in 1934, permitting jumps of up to 90 metres. At that time, there were only two jumpers in the world (Robert Lymbyrne - Canada and Sigmund Rund- Norway) to have jumped over 80 metres. Bloudek believed that ski jumpers would soon safely be able to safely reach 100m - and beyond. In a word, flying.

 

Despite the opposition at home and abroad, especially from FIS, they insisted on building the first giant jump at Planica. Joso Gorec was in charge of diplomatic war for acknowledgement of the ski jump, whereas Bloudek and the architect Ivan Rožman were in charge of building the afore-mentioned ski jump. The ski jump was completed in February 1934, and was introduced to the world when the world record was broken with a jump of over 90m. The Neue Freie Presse from Vienna wrote: "The fairly tale has become reality! Birger Rund jumped 92 metres. Sigmund Rund jumped 95.5 metres, but didn't hold."

 

Baron Coubertin also in Favour of Planica

 

The long-standing quarrel between Slovene sports officials and FIS broke out at that point, and did not end until 27 years later, when ski flights were recognised as a separate ski jumping discipline.

 

The conservative FIS officials were opposed to large ski jumps, which would facilitate jumps of over 80 metres. They believed that the only safe ski jumps were those suitable for jumps of around 70 metres. Slovene ski officials suggested to FIS that ski jumping be separated into two classes: classic jumping and longer jumps called flights. FIS would not even consider it.

 

Slovenian Ski officials received support from the father of the modern Olimpics himself, Baron Pierre de Coubertin. He stated in Pax Olimpica, the famous speech that he delivered on August 4th 1935:

"The tendencies towards making competitive sports a subject to compulsory bridling mean (are in other words) utopia. Competition devotees (lovers) need freedom without limits. Therefore we gave them the slogan: Citius, Altius, Fortius! The slogan is for those , who are willing to risk in order to break world records."

But even an authority like Coubertin couldn't sway FIS's officials. Likewise Slovene ski jumping enthusiasts.

 

Historic Jump into the Second Hundred

 

On March 15th, 1936, a new historic event took place on the patched up, but still cursed and discarded Planica giantess. The Austrian jumper Sepp Bradl jumped "into the second hundred of ski jumping history". He was the first man to "fly" over 100 metres on skis and he landed at 101m. Today, a jump like that is just a jump, but at that time it was a flight.

 

In 1938, Planica achieved its first moral victory in FIS. In congress in Helsinki, Joso Gorec provided irrefutable arguments for the safety of the ski jump, and provided that all the steps taken against Planica were unjust.

 

Thus, Planica officially entered ski jumping competition calendars. The last pre-war contest was in 1941, when the jumpers broke the world record as many as five times with the highest jump reaching 118 metres. The first post-war ski jumping competition took place in 1947. The ski jump was refurbished then, for it had been severely damaged during the war. Bloudek, on other hand, was already considering building a brand new ski jump, which would allow even longer flights. He draft all the plans for a 160 metres ski jump, but his death in 1959 beat him to it. The last race on the refurbished giantess, which had permitted the "jump into the second hundred", was in 1966. By then it was already regarded as a 120 metres ski jump.

The Gorišek brothers, respectable successors to Bloudek and Rožman, drew up plans for a luxuriant 190 metre ski jump, something Planica still has to show for today.

 

Flaneur, No 8, February 1994

Text by : Jurij Popov

 

 

Planica also hosts a number of World Cup competitions in ski- jumping. The first skier to fly more than 100 meters took off from Planica's jump, and in March 1994 this mountain resort witnessed a 209 meter jump that set a new world record then.

 

In 1997 Lasse Otessen, Norway set a new unofficial record in ski flying (212 meters).

And in 1997 the Slovene Goran Janus set a new national record, jumping 205.5 meters and Primož Peterka as the first Slovene won the Ski Flying World Cup Final.

 

If the joint bid to host the 2006 Winter Olympic Games is successful, all ski jump competitions would be held in Planica.

 

More information: Official website of Organizing committee Planica