This January, Ljubno will transform into one of the most important Slovenian sport venues for the seventh year in a row. Those of us who call Ljubno our home, and who are proud of our town and its people, are well aware of the significance of this number.
The tradition of ski jumping has impacted Ljubno ob Savinji for over 80 years, intertwining its daily life and setting roots deep in the mindset of the locals. This is also reflected in the beautiful design of the ski jump that rises above the town and gives it a distinguishable mark, which makes the people of Ljubno especially proud.
The year 1931 has a special place in the history of Ljubno. As soon as the first skis and bindings arrived in Ljubno, a competition was organised in which the most daring skiers also competed in ski jumping.
The everyday life of people of Ljubno is closely connected to ski jumping. Therefore, it is not surprising to see that SSK Ljubno BTC in Upper Savinja Valley is the training centre of one of the most promising young ski jumpers.
Last year, I was more than thrilled and happy to watch our Slovenian girls jump in Ljubno, where they fulfilled our not so quiet wishes. All the girls successfully passed the qualification round, and then achieved three historic podium placements on the renovated ski jump. Including the first Slovenian victory in Ljubno! I was overcome with emotions. My hometown of Ljubno grew even closer to my heart and got bigger not just in my eyes but also in the eyes of women's ski jumping fans.
The goal we set ourselves in Ljubno last year has been reached with great success. Together, with loads of effort, plenty of resources, and especially a lot of love for ski jumping, which the people of Ljubno have felt for more than 80 years, we managed to set up a new, modern ski jumping centre, with the ski jumping hill renovated to meet FIS standards. To top it off, the Slovenian eagles rewarded our efforts with the highest podium spots. I am glad that the national ski jumping centre is becoming not only a home to ski jumping, but also the cradle of talent and a knowledge exchange hub for excellent athletes, who make us proud and carry the name of Ljubno and Slovenia to the very top of international ski jumping.
A new chapter in the story of Slovenian women's ski jumping
Last season, Slovenian women's ski jumping surpassed all expectations and goals, as the Slovenian jumpers won historic medals and warmed the hearts of their fans on the renovated ski jump in Ljubno.This year, the girls are facing new challenges and optimistically looking to the future.The primary goals for Ljubno have been accomplished.Nowthey want to continue this Slovenian women's ski jumping fairy tale by reaching new and even higher goals.
The ski jump at the foot of the Rajhovka peak near Ljubno ob Savinji offers a beautiful vista of the town and gives it a magnificent imprint with its impressive beauty. Adding to this beauty are the near-by smaller ski jumps. These functional objects neatly complement the entire sports area, to which the people of Ljubno want to add more sports facilities and tourism areas. In this manner, they would get a comprehensive sports area that could host different sports activities and offer lodging amidst the untouched nature. At the same time, the town would represent a great starting point for visiting and sightseeing natural and cultural sites in the Upper Savinja Valley.
With a win and two additional podium placements, Maja Vtič and Špela Rogelj made history in Ljubno in 2016. It was a fantastic weekend that wrote an amazing success story for which both girls had been working hard and with great passion almost their entire lives. Although there are always some tough moments that make them want to escape the ski jumping arena, they both agree on having this sport in their blood and quickly dismiss the thought of a life without ski jumping.
The fairy tale written last year by the Slovenian women’s ski jumping team was full of wonders. Although the girls look fondly on their previous season’s success in Ljubno, they also gaze into the future determined to get at the top of their game and achieve the best possible results. They do not hide their ambitions and there is no doubt that the Slovenian eagles are once again flying to reach high goals. Here, they give some advice on how to reach and even surpass them.
Head coach Stane »Sten« Baloh and his assistant Primož Peterka are the two men supporting and standing by Slovenian women ski jumpers. Together with the girls they tremble and try to bring them to the level they deserve – the mere top of women’s ski jumping. Both of them have been touched and marked by the last season’s historic event. At the same time, they are enthusiastic about writing a fresh chapter in the book of success of the Slovenian women’s ski jumping team.
As a playful girl, Lana Šikovec first discovered ski jumping where else but in Ljubno. When she turned seven, she had already been ski jumping for a year and a half. Now she is a member of ski jumping club SSK Alpina, where she trains under the careful mentorship of Gašper Klinec and Matic Benedik. Despite her young age, Lana is well aware of the importance of her schoolwork, which comes first, with ski jumping following soon after. Although she is a perfectionist, rivalry is not her priority. A word of praise from her coach motivates her the most, while her current goal is to jump as far as possible. Her present record is 10.5 metres. Right now, Lana is placed 15th among girls up to the age of 9 in Slovenia.
Competitions in Ljubno present a special type of adventure for the entire family, not only for the excellent atmosphere among visitors but also for numerous activities that children and adults can participate in. And if adults find the thrill of paying attention to the competition or the music programme more enjoyable, children will surely be happy to explore around, have fun participating in numerous animation activities and games in the snow, discover their skills as ski jumpers on a mobile ski jump, take part in fun games, etc.
As FIS Race Director, Chika Yoshida is the main authority in FIS Ski Jumping World Cup Ladies. Miran Tepeš, a living legend of Slovenian ski jumping, has been her assistant since the summer of 2016. Together, they shape the FIS Ski Jumping World Cup Ladies with confidence and success.
Ljubno is a special place for me. Not just because I attended primary school in Ljubno, where different experiences and adventures made me jump for joy, but also because over the past few years this little town in the Upper Savinja Valley has become very big, co-creating the history of women’s ski jumping together with Slovenian female ski jumpers.
The brave beginnings of our predecessors in the 1960s who constructed the first real ski jump and organised the first competitions in ski jumping represented also the first steps on the way towards organising prominent competitions, with our town and the entire region receiving recognition on a world scale.
The municipality of Ljubno lies at the beginning of the Savinja gorge that rambles right to the heart of the mountains. The municipality, regarded as one of the most beautiful in the Upper Savinja Valley, extends over 79 hectares at an altitude of 420 metres. The municipality comprises the market town Ljubno and eight hamlets: Savina, Primož, Planina, Ter, Juvanje, Radmirje, Meliše, and Okonina, altogether with a population of 2,650.
The beginning of skiing tradition in Ljubno goes back to the time before WWII, while organised ski jumping itself started with the foundation of the ski jumping club SSK Gozdar after WWII. At that time, a group of Ljubno locals was attending international competitions in Planica, where they decided they were going to build a ski jump in Ljubno as well. They contacted the constructor of the giant ski jump in Planica, Stane Bloudek, and signed a contract in 1947 that would result in a 60-metre ski jump, completed in 1953. In the nineties, the ski jump was rebuilt and extended to 80 metres. In 2005, the locals reconstructed the ski jump according to the modern regulations of the FIS, and have been hosting ski jumping competitions for women at the highest level ever since 2006.
We have all at a certain point in our lives, at least when we were children, jumped for joy. The right reason to do so is the new ski jump, where courageous girls are brimming with joy. With a spark in their eyes they remember the most joyous moments in their lives as well as in the sports discipline they love so much.
As a child I often went to Mostec to try out the smaller ski jump and proudly put on the ski jumping skis of my cousin's husband – Janez Gorišek, who at that time was jumping on the ski jump in Šiška and after the competition always allowed me to put them on and ski down the landing zone.
The SSK Ljubno BTC ski jumping club first saw the light of day over sixty years ago, when it continued the enthusiastic ideas of the most progressive people of Ljubno, who were not afraid to take on the most daring challenges, among which was also the construction of a 60-metre ski jump in Ljubno ob Savinji (at that time considered very big).
The Ski Association of Slovenia has clearly had a good feel for finding the place where women’s ski jumping would be truly loved. Ljubno has nurtured the first inklings of infatuation into a profound love for life.