Planica Nordic Centre officially launched
Planica, 11 December - The Planica Nordic Centre opened in the Alpine valley of Planica (NW) on Friday, bringing new shine to the legendary sports venue following lengthy construction and renovation works that started eight years ago.
The complex featuring a ski-flying hill, seven ski-jumping hills and 40 kilometres of cross-country skiing tracks in the Alpine valley of Tamar (NW) cost around EUR 40m.
The centre was launched in a ceremony addressed by Education, Science and Sport Minister Maja Makovec Brenčič, Prime Minister Miro Cerar and head of the Planica Sports Association Jelko Gros.
"Planica is a symbol of courage, natural beauty and heritage of world renown. This is the place where people saw first flights over 100 and 200 metres and 42 world records," Cerar said at the opening ceremony.
The prime minister noted that the new centre was also about preserving the cultural and technical heritage and providing the region of Gorenjsko with important infrastructure.
"Planica is a national symbol of Slovenia, and the Nordic centre has restored Planica to its former glory," added Minister Makovec Brenčič, noting that the modern centre was fully a product of Slovenian know-how.
Slovenian Olympic Committee boss Bogdan Gabrovec added that the centre was an example of good cooperation between the authorities and sport institutions. "If we continue to cooperate like this, we will be successful."
The ceremony also featured retired ski jumper Franci Petek bringing a Slovenian flag down the zip line installed over the ski flying hill and handing it to cross-country skiing legend Petra Majdič.
The act was meant as to symbolically connect the two branches of Nordic skiing, which are getting state-of-the-art venues in the valley.
Petek said that the new centre was a "dream come true, and it is up to us, Slovenians to maintain it and use it".
Majdič added that "Planica has been put on the map as an exceptional Nordic centre. Had I had such conditions when I still competed, I would not be waiting so many years to make it to the world's top."
Former gymnast Miroslav Cerar, the most successful Slovenian athlete of all time and father of PM Cerar, noted that it was "a magnificent moment, we can be proud of this centre. This is a great jump, from modest conditions to most modern facilities for training."
In addition to the renovated flying hill, called the Bloudek Giant, which was already inaugurated in March in the ski-flying World Cup finale, the complex features hills of all sizes in one place: small, medium, normal and large hills.
The cross-country skiing complex meanwhile includes an indoor track for off-season trainings and seven kilometres of tracks connecting the centre with the existing 40 km of recreational tracks in Planica, Kranjska Gora and Tamar.
The centre will host an open day for visitors on Saturday, as part of which they will have the opportunity to try the 566-metre long zip-line, the steepest in the world.
The centre, which will require one million euros a year for its operation, expects to generate a third of its revenue from tourism, and the rest from competitions and training events for professional athletes.
Ski jumping in Planica dates back to the 1920s, when the first ski-jumping hill was constructed on the slope of Mount Ponca, and in 1934, Stanko Bloudek built a larger hill.
The first ski jump over 100 metres was achieved there in 1936 by the Austrian Sepp Bradl, and many world records in ski-jumping and flying have been broken there since.