The top achievements of Žan Kranjec are not self-evident, nor is the fact that Slovenia hosts World Cup matches. The fans are aware of this and remain loyal to the Vitranc Cup, even though the price of food and drinks was the same as in Planica.
The 62nd Vitranc Cup attracted more than 10,000 spectators over the two days, including a good number of foreigners. They enjoyed sunny and very warm weather on Saturday, but the weather was less favorable to the organizers. The cold and clear skies on Sunday night were of course very welcome, but less so than the high temperatures in the last week before the game. There was no one who did not appreciate their effort, the track perfectly withstood all the competitors, the conditions were fair for everyone. The grandmasters won, led by Marc Odermatt, who secured the big crystal globe and also the giant slalom in Kranjska Gora. On Saturday, his victory was threatened by Alexis Pinturault, on Sunday by Henrik Kristoffersen.
Looked for spares but couldn’t find themŽan Kranjec was immediately behind the mentioned trio, who, however, jumped so much that the winning stage was realistically unattainable, even though coach Klemen Bergant hoped on Saturday that they would find the reserves by Sunday, which ran out of time to reach the stage. “A bit ungrateful for this fourth place, but – I gave my best, when I arrived at the finish I knew that it would probably not be enough for the podium, as the leading three were better. There’s no point in worrying about where I left the cents“, thought Žan Kranjec after Sunday’s performance, who with a series of excellent placings (with the exception of this year’s race in the USA in the giant slalom, he was always among the six) spoiled the Slovenian skiing fans, who perhaps do not appreciate his fourth and fifth places enough. It was similar with Tina Maze in the 2011/12 season, when she was on the podium ten times, but (with the dominance of Lindsey Vonn) never on the top step, and there was no real joy anymore when she finished second.
Confidently to Andorra“It is obviously more difficult for Žan to compete at home, Odermatt, Kristoffersen and Pinturault were unbeatable for him. Again: his season this year is his best yet, it’s hard to ask for more,” said Bergant, who will give his final assessment of the season on Saturday after the giant slalom in Soldo (it is not excluded that Kranjec will also compete in Sunday’s slalom). The best Slovenian alpine skier, who shows well in the fight for 3rd place overall to the giant slalom total, he travels there with a good travel companion.”I’m looking forward to the final, especially after this successful weekend. I can go to Andorra with confidence. I really want that third place overall. If I’m going to compete normally, my advantage should be (51 points ahead of Schwarz, 61 ahead of Meillard, 63 ahead of Pinturault) to suffice.“
Gartner will forever remember its debutThe unestablished Anže Gartner and Rok Ažnoh also appeared in the home match. Coach Bergant points out that they are not yet at the level of the World Cup in giant slalom, but they got a chance because Slovenia was able to use the home quota. The 22-year-old Anže Gartner resigned on Sunday, and on Saturday, after he was less than two seconds short of the final, he said: “I’m quite happy, even if the result is not the best and I made some mistakes. It was my first start in the World Cup and that is already something special. You are at the start together with the best in the world, you see how they prepare for the match...”
FIFA matches are one thing, the World Cup is anotherRok Ažnoh, who was in St. Antonu became the junior world champion, after Saturday’s 50th place and more than six seconds off the result, he admitted that he still has a lot of work to do in this discipline: “I showed some good turns, but here are the giant slalom masters. It seems that I am not yet in step with them. I hope to be in the next few years. If I want to progress and ski well on harder surfaces, I will have to train with Žan and Štefan. My performance was a bit too defensive, which is also a result of the worse course.” During the week, Ažnoh competed well in Osojščica and was first and second in two Fis giant slaloms: “The snow surface was similar, but there was a more flat race with some undulations.“
Ažnoh to Andorra determined to prove himselfOn Sunday, Ažnoh was not at the start, as he had already traveled to Andorra for the finals of the World Cup, where he will be able to compete in the downhill as world junior champion. The plan? “Throttle all the way. It means a lot to me that I can be there, I hope to show such turns and such sliding as in January at the WC. I’ve already looked at some pictures of the ski resort. The entire course will be in the sun, so visibility will be good. If they do two practice sessions, I can show great driving20-year-old Ažnoh is convinced, who is already waiting for his first training today. Žan Kranjec will travel to the venue of the final by plane on Tuesday.
The cheapest tickets are 20 eurosFinally, thanks again to the Kranjskogo organizers, who, despite the spring conditions (on Saturday, some fans were wearing short sleeves), successfully conducted both matches. Sunday could be said to have passed in wintry conditions. They can also be satisfied with a good attendance, they counted 6,000 fans on Saturday and 4,500 on Sunday. The tickets were much cheaper than those for the February world championship in Planica (stands 20 euros for a single day, stands 40 euros, anyone who came with a flag had free entry), and the prices of food and drinks were the same (water 3.50 euros, beer 5 euros).
Positive zero this year, the future of Vitranac is otherwise uncertainThe event is not in danger until 2026, but what will happen next is still uncertain. “With the new president of the International Ski Federation (this is Johan Eliasch) new ideas have also come and the question is how long will Kranjska Gora, as a small organizer with the lowest budget, be able to compete with rich organizers,” fears the general secretary of the Vitranc Cup, Srečko Medven, who also emphasized that in a short period of time there were five events at the highest level in this part of Gorenjska, which absorbed all the funds that were available. However, the 62nd Vitranc Cup , whose budget is approximately 1.5 million euros, “operated” with a positive zero.
A few more photos from Podkoren (click on the photo for a description):