March 22, 2019
Breaking records is an important part of ski flying competitions, and breaking the world record has presented a particular challenge not only to the athletes, but to the hill engineers and event organisers as well.
There are five large ski flying hills that have played a major role in the sports’ development since the 1950s.
Kulm hill in Austria, built in 1950, further upgraded in 1953, 1986 and 2015, was a site of world record flights in 1962 (141 metres), 1965 (145 metres; both jumped by Peter Lesser) and 1986 (191 metres by Andreas Felder). The current record of the hill stands at 244 metres by Peter Prevc, set in 2016.
Heini Klopfer hill in Oberstdorf, Germany, named after the hill’s architect, Heini Klopfer, was also built in 1950 and then upgraded in 1972, 1997 and 2017. After its first upgrade the hill was the chief rival to the Gorišek Brothers’ hill in Planica, and the hill record race that ensued between the two in the 1970s also sparked the first serious safety concerns and calls for tighter regulation and control by the International Ski Federation. Heini Klopfer hill in Oberstdorf was a site of a series of world record flights from 1950s to 1967 and then from 1973 into the mid-1980s. No new world records were broken in Oberstdorf after Planica took over as the site of world record jumps in 1987 and Vikersund took over from Planica in 2011. The current hill record in Oberstdorf was set at 238.5 metres by Daniel-André Tande in 2018.
Gorišek Brothers hill in Planica, Slovenia, named after the hill architects Janez (1933 -) and Lado (1925 – 1997) Gorišek. Today Janez is considered as the World’s no. 1 expert in ski flying engineering and the main man behind the renovation of the currently world record dominating hill in Vikersund. The flying hill in Planica was inaugurated in 1969 with a series of world record flights. It was upgraded in 1979, 1985, 1994, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2010 and 2013/15. Starting with Piotr Fias’ 194-metre world record in 1987, Planica completely dominated as the location for world record jumps site for 24 years until the most recent renovation of the Vikersund hill in 2011. The last world record on this hill was set by Bjørn Einar Romøren, at 239 metres, in 2005, and the current hill record was marked at 252 metres by Ryoyu Kobayashi in 2019.
Vikersundbakken or Vikersund hill in Norway, the current world record holder, was already built in 1936 but has only been categorised as a ski flying hill since its 1966 upgrade. Like the rest of the ski flying hills, Vikersund has undergone several renovations since, notably the most recent one, that involved a complete rebuild of the in-run and was overseen by Planica’s main architect, Janez Gorišek. This renovation meant the end of Planica leadership in world record jumps and installed Vikersund as the place where the last six records were set, with what today remains the longest jump ever made on skis, at 253.5 metres by Stefan Kraft in 2017.
Četrt’ák hill in Harachov, Czech Republic, joined the race in 1980 and earned an early reputation of being dangerous to jump from, mostly due to strong cross winds that are present at the site. Two world records were obtained there, one in 1980 (Armin Kogler, 176 metres) and the second one in 1983 (Pavel Ploc, 181 metres). The hill underwent some renovations in the years between 1989 to 1992, nevertheless another rather famous fall occurred in 1992, with Andreas Goldberg crashing onto the slope from the highest flying point of his jump. With changes in equipment and flying technique, however, ski flying presents less danger to jumpers even in Harrachow, where the current hill record was set at 214.5 metres by Matti Hautämaki in 2002 and repeated again by Thomas Morgenstern in 2008. In 2011 Jurij Tepeš crash-landed at 220 metres, although if you are not standing on your feet at landing then this does not count as a successful jump, and therefore cannot count as a world record either.
Although ski flying safety has improved significantly in the last few decades, the question of “how far is still safe?” remains, which is quite evident from the video above, due to the levelling off of the slope towards the bottom of the hill.
The big debate about safety emerged in the 1970s amid the rivalry between Planica and Oberstdorf. In 1974 the debate also reached its peak artistically with a Werner Herzog documentary about Walter Steiner’s safety concerns at the 1974 flights in Planica.
The film depicts Walter Steiner at the top of his career in a season in which he was beating his entire competition in double digits by length of his jumps. The world record holder at the time was Heinz Wossipiwo, with 169 metres jumped in Oberstdorf in 1973, when Steiner crash-landed twice, at 175 and 179 metres. Steiner’s concerns in the movie mostly revolve around the organisers’ lack of safety considerations in Planica that year, as they appeared to be more concerned with the possibility of a record than basic safety of the jumpers. “I feel I’m in the arena with 50,000 people waiting to see me crash”, Herzog reports him saying in the film.
At about 20:52 in the film above, just after Steiner’s crash landing at 177 metres, a jumper with a starting number 1 appears in the background, warming up for his second jump. The jumper’s name is Janez Loštrek, father of the author of this article, so we seized the opportunity and asked him to comment on his colleague’s struggles from that year.
He told us that although the push for a record existed at all hills at the time, the problem Steiner was facing in 1974 in Planica was a new one. Whether or not his struggles in Planica could be related to his two record crash-landings in Oberstdorf in the previous season, Loštrek doesn’t know because his first ski flying season was only in 1974 in Planica.
Regulations and the composition of the match organising committees also gradually changed in favour of better safety controls, along with advances in technology with regard to monitoring and scoring of the jumps. The issue of adjusting the in-run length to the capabilities of an individual jumper is not a problem anymore, as it can be shortened today on request by a coach with an appropriate score adjustment of such a jump, but in the 1970s this wasn’t yet possible.
In the 1974/5 season, the International Ski Federation (FIS) tried to address the issue of jumpers in top form by introducing a separation of the first 15 from the practice day, sending them to a lower in-run point on the day of the competition without the possibility of the rest of the competitors who were jumping from a higher point to take any of the first 15 places, in effect creating two separate competitions. The system didn’t last long, as practice jumps don’t necessarily tell much about someone’s ability on the actual competition day. Note that the only practice time for jumpers at the flying hills is usually on the first day of the ski flying event, because the flying hills are only prepared for jumping for the time of competition.
Safety in ski flying was further improved with the introduction of the FIS Ski Jumping World Cup in the 1979/80 season, bringing in more external regulation and control, further limiting the possibility of the events depicted in the movie above. Also, the equipment changed, with helmets and high boots, while the skis became lighter and a mechanism was developed that kept them from flipping over in bad weather. The whole system was improved, but with new solutions come new problems. Since the introduction of V-style jumping in the 1990s, the weight of a jumper plays an important role, something that has already been addressed by regulations on ski length to avoid harsh dieting by more heavily built jumpers. This rule is currently under debate to be even tighter, as weight control seems to still be too great of a factor for some of the jumpers, who could instead be focusing on the athletic aspect of the sport.
Meanwhile, Janez Gorišek (1933 -) and his youngest son Sebastjan, Janez’s main partner in latest designs of the world’s two largest hills, Planica and Vikersund, are already looking ahead, for solutions for a 300-metre flight. “The development of ski jumping never stops, so the engineers cannot stop either. This is also my view on the current duel between the hills in Vikersund and Planica. The profiles of the both were designed by Sebastjan and I. We also advised the Austrians in Kulm. However, the Norwegians are most in favour of our views. Apparently we also need each other most. We are both inclined to new goals and together we are the strongest,” said Janez Gorišek in a recent interview for Delo.
STA, 22 March 2019 - Markus Eisenbichler of Germany won the first individual event of the Ski Jumping World Cup season finale at Slovenia's Planica on Friday, beating Japan's Ryoyu Kobayashi, who has already secured overall win in the competition.
The reigning world champion on the large hill collected 445 points from the two jumps to earn his first win in the World Cup, beating the Japanese sensation by almost seven points.
The third place went to Piotr Žyla of Poland (437.3 points), who was followed by Timi Zajc, the best Slovenian in the World Cup this season, who set a personal best of 240m in the first round.
Eisenbichler now leads the ski flying standings one event to go with 311 points ahead of Kobayashi (307) and Žyla (239).
Zajc told reporters he was very happy despite missing on a podium finish, adding that Slovenia was among the favourites for Saturday's team event. "It makes sense to count on a podium finish tomorrow."
Related: All our stories on Planica, past and present, are here
"We showed last week that we can win the first place," he said referring to the team's win in Norway last week, adding that "we can do it if all four of us manage good jumps."
The announcement is realistic as Slovenia had two other representatives in the top 10 - Domen Prevc in fifth place and his older brother Peter in tenth.
The season finale events hosted by Planica will conclude with another individual event for Sunday.
* Results of Friday's Ski Jumping World Cup event at Planica:
2 Ryoyu Kobayashi (JAP) 438.1 (242.0/220.0) 3 Piotr Žyla (POL) 437.3 (242.0/234.0) 4 Timi Zajc (SLO) 422.5 (240.0/228.5) 5 Domen Prevc (SLO) 415.2 (233.5/224.0) 6 Simon Ammann (SUI) 411.6 (234.5/238.0) 7 Dawid Kubacki (POL) 405.5 (222.0/230.0) 8 Johann Andre Forfang (NOR) 405.4 (230.0/221.5) 9 Karl Geiger (GER) 404.7 (227.0/226.0) 10 Peter Prevc (SLO) 401.5 (225.5/226.5) ... 20 Anže Semenič (SLO) 371.6 (219.0/217.5) 29 Bor Pavlovčič (SLO) 354.1 (201.5/211.0) - Overall standings (28 of 29 events): 1 Ryoyu Kobayashi (JAP) 1,985 2 Stefan Kraft (AUT) 1,335 3 Kamil Stoch (POL) 1,264 4 Piotr Žyla (POL) 1,081 5 Robert Johansson (NOR) 959 6 Dawid Kubacki (POL) 948 7 Markus Eisenbichler (GER) 877 8 Johann Andre Forfang (NOR) 860 9 Timi Zajc (SLO) 788 10 Karl Geiger (GER) 729
STA, 22 March 2019 - The Planica ski flying hill will traditionally host the Ski Jumping World Cup season finale between Friday and Sunday, with the organisers promising a spectacle involving the world elite despite the fact that the overall winner has already been decided.
While Ryoyu Kobayashi of Japan has secured the overall individual win in the 40th World Cup season long ago, the fight for the small crystal globe for ski flying is still open.
Kobayashi in also in the lead in this department, being closely followed by Markus Eisenbichler of Austria and Kamil Stoch of Poland, who won both individual events at Planica last year.
Ski fliers will have two individual events to improve their score, on Friday and Sunday, while Saturday is reserved for the team event, with Poland defending their lead in the Nations Cup ahead of Germany and Japan.
A special trophy called Planica 7 will go to the jumper with the best total from all seven jumps, from the qualifiers on Thursday to Sunday's final event. It comes with a cheque worth 20,000 Swiss francs.
Slovenian jumpers will certainly be motivated to conclude the season in style, coming off two wins in Norway's Vikersund last week, with Domen Prevc earning his fifth individual win after a team win by Slovenia in ski flying.
The two wins have brought some optimism to the otherwise lacklustre season for the Slovenian team under the new head coach Gorazd Bertoncelj, who had set ambitious goals ahead of the season, much of which have remained out of reach.
The organisers expect that some 60,000 spectators will have visited the Planica ski flying hill by Sunday, as the hill is looking to regain an absolute record for the longest jump back from the Vikersund Hill (253.5m).
Planica is only two metres short (251.5m by Kamil Stoch in 2017) of the record and Gregor Schlierenzauer last year landed at the record mark but the jump was disqualified because he touched the ground with both hands.
All our stories about Planica are here
STA, 19 March 2019 - Slovenian's Primož Roglič has underlined his status as one of the world's best cyclists, having won on Tuesday his second race of the 2019 UCI World Tour. Roglič is the new winner of the Tirreno-Adriatico race between the Tyrrhenian and Adriatic coasts.
The 29-year-old member of the Jumbo-Visma professional racing team clinched the fourth UCI World Tour win of his career in the final stage of this year's Tirreno-Adriatico race, which began on 13 March.
He had been 25 seconds behind Adam Yates ahead of today's time-trial, but mastered the 10-km stage roughly 26 second faster than the British cyclist. Roglič grabbed the overall win after seven stages by a margin of 0.31 seconds.
"This was incredibly close. I don't know where I made up the time. I was lucky in the end ... I was confident but I can only control myself and I just wanted to give 110% and then we would see what it would be at the end," Roglič said after the last stage.
At the start of the month, Roglič, a former ski-jumper, won the premiere United Arab Emirates Tour, the third race of the 2019 UCI World Tour. He had won in Basque and Romandy last year. He finished fourth overall in the 2018 Tour de France.
STA, 16 March 2019 - Slovenian ski jumpers won the team FIS Ski flying competition in Vikersund, Norway, on Saturday. Anže Semenič, brothers Peter and Domen Prevc, and Timi Zajc beat the German team in second place and Austria in third.
In what was the tenth team victory overall for Slovenian ski jumpers, the foursome accumulated a total of 1632.9 points, the Germans 1606.3, whole the Austrians earned 1563.8 points.
Slovenia was in the lead after the first round, having earned 789 points, followed by Germany (775.8 points) and Austria (754.8 points).
The victory, the tenth team is considered a good omen ahead of the competition in Planica in Slovenia, where the final events of the season will be held in a fortnight.
March 14, 2019
By tradition the Ski Jumping World Cup begins in Kuusam, Finland in November, and concludes in March with the finals on the Gorišek Brothers Flying Hill in Planica, Slovenia.
Planica was also the site of the first ever flying World Cup competition in 1972, and you can check below how things worked back then:
Did we just see an athlete on a cigarette break at 4:06?
Apparently, things seem to be changing all the time in Planica as well, and this is not only the case for the competitors but spectators too. You might have already figured out that climbing around the hill and the surrounding trees and getting drunk on the way is not allowed anymore. Besides, there are other things the organisers would like this year’s visitors to Planica to pay attention to.
In line with the Planica sustainability policy, the organisers will be giving right of way to organised and public transportation.
Since 2013 it has been possible to travel to the venue for a relatively low price using a combination of train and bus. On Saturday and Sunday there will be special trains taking Planica spectators and regular passengers from Ljubljana to Jesenice, where they will take free bus rides straight to the hill and back to Jesenice after the event. Train tickets will be sold at 50% less to those in possession of event tickets (25% price for children between the ages of 6 and 12, free of charge for kids younger than this).
Like in previous years, people who nevertheless decide to drive to the event in their own car are encouraged to park in Kranjska Gora, where free shuttle buses will operate on a circular route to Planica.
Sixty thousand people are expected to attend the four days of ski flying in Planica this year, and all will enter the spectators’ area at several checkpoints. To avoid overcrowding and bottlenecks, security staff will exercise ticket and security controls separately: visitors will have to show their tickets first, and will be examined for any disallowed items such as pyrotechnics and alcohol later.
Visitors are also asked to pay attention to six information points with markings high enough to be seen from a relative distance – you go here in case you get lost or lose somebody, need to get help, etc.
You might want to inspect the layout of the site before purchasing tickets, with a mind to where the sun will be, and whether you want to stand or sit.
STA, 10 March 2019 - Ramon Zenhäusern from Switzerland won Sunday's World Cup slalom in Slovenia's Kranjska Gora. With 1.15 seconds behind him, Norway's Henrik Kristoffersen failed to secure a double victory in Kranjska Gora after winning giant slalom on Saturday.
Austria's Marcel Hirscher was third (+1.17), but nevertheless sealed his eight overall World Cup victory, which makes him the skier with the most overall wins in history.
Despite not winning today's race, Kristoffersen is the overall winner of the two World Cup races in Kranjska Gora, which are in Slovenia known as the Vitranc Cup.
Saturday’s podium runs
Today's winner Zenhäusern, who finished the first run only seventh, made up for the gap from the first run in a phenomenal second-run performance, outdoing the strongest rivals by more than a second.
Speaking to the press after the race, he said he would like to move to Kranjska Gora because he liked it here very much so he won the third World Cup race.
Last year he placed third in the Kranjska Gora slalom, behind archrivals Hirscher and Kristoffersen.
This is, however, the first time in 20 years that a Swiss won a slalom race in Kranjska Gora. Before Zenhäusern, the feat was achieved by Didier Plaschy in December 1999.
Štefan Hadalin, the only Slovenian in the finals, finished 21st (+3.57) to place 18th in the overall slalom standings.
1. Ramon Zenhäusern (Sui) 1:39.54 51.97 47.57 2. Henrik Kristoffersen (Nor) 1:40.69 +01.15 51.07 49.62 3. Marcel Hirscher (Aut) 1:40.71 +01.17 51.88 48.83 4. Manuel Feller (Aut) 1:40.77 +01.23 52.04 48.73 5. Daniel Yule (Sui) 1:41.06 +01.52 51.71 49.35 6. Manfred Mölgg (Ita) 1:41.39 +01.85 51.64 49.75 7. Alexis Pinturault (Fra) 1:41.45 +01.91 51.69 49.76 8. Andre Myhrer (Swe) 1:41.56 +02.02 51.86 49.70 . Clement Noel (Fra) 1:41.56 +02.02 52.59 48.97 . Stefano Gross (Ita) 1:41.56 +02.02 52.64 48.92 ... Overall World Cup rankings: 1. Marcel Hirscher (Aut) 1,508 2. Alexis Pinturault (Fra) 999 3. Henrik Kristoffersen (Nor) 988 4. Dominik Paris (Ita) 750 5. Beat Feuz (Sui) 653 6. Vincent Kriechmayr (Aut) 634 7. Aleksander Aamodt Kilde (Nor) 587 8. Mauro Caviezel (Sui) 566 9. Marco Schwarz (Aut) 560 10. Daniel Yule (Sui) 491
STA, 2 March 2019 - Slovenian cyclist Primož Roglič has won the premiere UAE Tour, the third race of the 2019 UCI World Tour, taking place around the United Arab Emirates.
Roglič was in the lead from the first to the last stage, which concluded in Dubai on Saturday. He won the first stage and an additional two stages of the seven-stage race.
This is the seventh win in stage races for the 29-year-old member of the Jumbo-Visma professional racing team, and the third in the UCI World Tour series. Roglič won the first two, in Basque and Romandy, last year.
Roglič said after the last stage that "it was very windy from the very start, and I was a bit nervous. But we ended like we started."
"The ending was perfect. The beginning of the race, with the team winning the time trial, was crazy, and we continued in this rhythm," he added.
With three UCI World Tour wins, Roglič equalised Simon Špilak, who is the only other Slovenian to manage the feat, having won the Tour of Switzerland two times and the Tour of Romandie once.
Roglič's next challenge is the Tirreno-Adriatico race between the Tyrrhenian and Adriatic coasts, which starts on 13 March.
STA, 26 February - Women's downhill world champion Ilka Štuhec, who is out for the season with injury to both of her knees, has announced on Instagram that she does not need surgery, as initially believed. It is not yet known when she will return to skiing, but it will definitely be earlier than in the case of surgery.
The injuries happened last Saturday as Štuhec competed in the downhill World Cup race in Crans Montana. She crashed into the protective fences on the course, but managed to get up herself and get to the finish line.
See the accident here
Her team decided to have her checked at the local hospital, with the initial tests showing she suffered a posterior cruciate ligament tear in the left knee and a bruised right knee.
The injuries ruled her out for the remainder of the season and it was initially believed that she would require a surgery.
But the 28-year-old from Maribor announced on Instagram today that the "outcome is not that bad as first thought. Torn PCL, but I can make it without surgery."
The announcement comes after Štuhec was examined in Basel by Niklaus Friedrich, the doctor who already performed surgery on a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her left knee in the past.
Her team later explained that it was actually a partial tear of the PCL in her left knee, while the ACL, which she tore in September 2017 to miss out the entire 2017/18, was undamaged.
Surgery is not planned for the time being, but it will be required if the knee does not respond to the more conservative approach, the team added.
"A new examination is scheduled in Basel in 14 days, and it will be known in a month whether the rehabilitation is progressing as planned."
The team quoted Štuhec saying that she needed to accept the situation. "I have proven to myself many times that I can return after an injury and the plan is the same also this time."
No surgery means that she will return to skiing much earlier than if she needed one, when rehabilitation would take at least nine months.
The injury came as Štuhec made a comeback after missing the Olympic season, winning the World Cup downhill and super-G in Val Gardena in mid-December and defending her gold in the downhill at the recent world championships in Sweden's Aare.
STA, 24 February 2019 - Slovenia's Katja Višnar and Anamarija Lampič won silver in the women's team sprint classic event at the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Austria's Seefeld on Sunday.
The Slovenian team finished 37 hundredths of a second behind the champions Stina Nillson and Maja Dahlqvist of Sweden. Bronze went to Norway's Ingvild Flugstad Oestbergin and Maiken Caspersen Fala (+0.60).
"This is absolutely crazy, we finally did it," Lampič, 23, said in her first comment for the Slovenian public broadcaster TV Slovenija.
"Seeing you're at the front gives you an extra push. In the end I was at the very front. But I was on the outer side, if I'd be on the inner side, I'd have a chance to win. But second place is super as well," she added.
"I put in over ten years of hard work. I was often close, but I never succeeded as this time. You just work on and then one day everything falls into place," Višnar, 34, commented.
Like her teammate Višnar said that she were close to winning the race.
The Slovenian pair finished third in the qualifying, coming 0.53 seconds behind Russia's Natalya Nepryayeva and Yuliya Belorukova, who clocked the fastest time, and 0.11 behind Switzerland's Laurien Van Der Graaf and Nadine Fähndrich.
Stina Nillson and Maja Dahlqvist were in the lead in the other qualifying group but clocked behind the Slovenian team.
In the finals, Višnar and Lampič were in the running for the podium throughout the 7.2-kilometre track. In the penultimate stage, Višnar exchanged with Lampič as the fourth, a good second behind the Russian.
In the nail-biting finish Lampič advanced to the second spot on the last climb, finishing the race second only to Swede Dahlqvist.
This is the third cross-country skiing World Championship medal for Slovenia after silver and bronze won by Petra Majdič in individual sprint events in Sapporo in 2007 and Oslo in 2011, respectively.
It is the ninth medal for Slovenia at Nordic world ski championships.
STA, 23 February 2019 - Slovenian alpine skier Ilka Štuhec, who is the reigning downhill World Champion, injured both of her knees in a crash during Saturday's downhill World Cup race in Crans Montana, which rules her out for the remainder of the season, her team said.
The injury is a crushing blow to the 28-year-old, who had made a phenomenal comeback this season after missing the Olympic season due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her left knee.
While Štuhec was able to get up after crashing into the protective fences on the course, she felt pain her knees. Her team decided to have her checked at the hospital in Crans Montana, with the tests showing she suffered a posterior cruciate ligament tear in the left knee and a bruised right knee.
The two-time downhill World Champion, who was third in the downhill rankings for the season ahead of today's race, will already be transported to Basel today. Additional tests will be conducted there by Niklaus Friedrich, who already performed surgery on Štuhec in the past.