At the previous two world championships, Slovenia was the favorite in mixed teams, but was left empty-handed in Seefeld and Oberstdorf. In Planica 2023, the show jumpers provided great relief for both the national team and the organizers.
The first week of the world championship in Nordic skiing in Planica brought a lot of competitive disappointments, especially in Slovenia’s parade sport – ski jumping. The coldness and fear of an unsuccessful World Cup beckoned in front of the glaringly empty stands.
After three matches on the intermediate vault, the best result was fourth place for the Slovenes in the team match, but for them it was already an encouraging result after the crash in the individual match. On the other hand, after Saturday’s individual match, the Slovenians went to bed badly burned.
Lanišek fell asleep at half past two in the morning
The night from Saturday to Sunday dragged on. “I couldn’t sleep until half past two, but then it kind of went,” he admitted Anže Lanišek. The best Slovenian in the World Cup was aware that there was not much luck with the mixed team at the World Championships. Last winter, due to a drop in form, he was left without a place in the quartet, which then went to Olympus.
“After all the Lahti, Seefeld and Oberstdorf, when we were always only fourth. We always lacked something. We finally got a medal also in the mixed team. This time we were not even in the narrowest circle of favorites, but we showed where we belong,” the 26-year-old man from Domžal pointed out bad experiences from the discipline, which has the largest breadth in the jumping sport, and last but not least, competition and unpredictability. The memory of the bizarre Olympic match in Beijing, which was sovereignly won by Slovenia, still lives on.
Satisfied with every medal
In the sixth attempt, the Slovenian mixed team only managed to win the first medal at the world championships. At the third consecutive WC, the jumping national team of Slovenia won the medal. In total, this is the eleventh medal in the jumping part of the Nordic WCs, the sixth bronze medal in total.
“It is interesting to see that in Oberstdorf we were considered by far the biggest favorites, but we were left without a medal. This time we came to the match more like silent favorites, but we managed to get a medal. We were in the game for gold for a long time, but we have to be with happy with every medal,” is also a trainer of jumpers Robert Hrgota looked back at the hitherto unsuccessful tradition of mixed teams.
“I was very calm because it can’t be worse than on Saturday. The two boys jumped really well. After the first series, Anžet and I saw that we were 4.5 points behind the gold, and we said: ‘We’ll do it and we’ll have it.’ It’s a shame, yes, we had a good chance to win, but there will be another chance in two years. The match was interesting, I hope that it was also interesting for the spectators at home and that they could cheer, be on their toes and look forward to this bronze medal at the end.” said the 34-year-old from Velenj, who has been leading the Slovenian jumpers for more than two years.
Zupančič: Snowflakes are not distributed just like that
Timi Zajc was the best in the second group in both jumps. Nika Križnar was second and first in the starting group. Anže Lanišek was first and fourth in the last group. As she feared, Ema Klinec was the weakest link: in the third group she was fifth both times. In the second attempt, her ski was grabbed twice, the second time, many saw her fall into it a fish, but she survived. Gold was out of reach, but neither was a medal.
“Snowflakes are not distributed just like that. They have to be taken. We saw beautiful jumps in difficult conditions, we were also fighting for the gold, but the burden of some who brought it to this world championship is still there. But we are looking forward to the medal, now we can throw that burden off,” said the coach of the show jumpers Zoran Zupančič.
Ema Klinec didn’t want to talk about her sprained knee, but because of it, the fourth jumper this winter is no longer confident either in the jump or in the landing. “I just wanted to hold on. I still have to look at the video, but I don’t want to play around with it. I’m glad I didn’t fall, I wouldn’t forgive myself for that,” said a 24-year-old woman from Poljana nad Škofja Loka.
A stimulating journey for Bloudko’s giantess
“A really nice result. If it didn’t work out on Saturday, that’s why it’s finally on a smaller device and now we can really calmly go to the bigger one,” Hrgota, as well as all the other members of the bronze team, at the end of the talks with journalists, focused on the second week of Planica 2023.
The home world championship is barely halfway through, 13 out of 24 sets of medals were awarded in Planica, and three more matches will take place on the big ski jump. Women’s singles on Wednesday and men’s singles on Friday and men’s team on Saturday. They will all be on Bloudka’s giant, which has the characteristics of an aerodrome, which is what most Slovenian show jumpers prefer.
“Another week is ahead of us. A big jump. You have to stay calm and collected,” said Lanišek calmly, while Zajc added: “I didn’t think I’d be that good on the little jumper. I’m in great shape so I’m really not worried.”