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Friday, 29 December 2017

Zagreb Given Green Light To Host FIS Alpine World Cup "Snow Queen Trophy" 2018







A scene from last year's 2017 Zagreb Snow Queen Trophy slalom races, attracting up to 25,000 spectators it is one of the largest and the most visited races on the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup calendar and is broadcast to over 250 million households around the world. 





This is great news, and speaking as a skier fantastic news actually so I had to add this here. Because the Crveni spust (Red run) on Sljeme Medvednica mountain yesterday received the official FIS green light for the races of the Audi FIS Ski World Cup Snow Queen Trophy 2018. The weather in Central Europe over the last week has been hovering above zero with less snow than usual by this time, but luckily the organizers in Zagreb have been on the ball with preparations working all through the colder sub-zero nights to make sure the ski courses will be ready for January 3rd and 4th. Last year a number of FIS World Cup races in Europe were cancelled because of lack of snow/warmer weather, and it would have been a catastrophic world tragedy for the Zagreb slalom races to have been cancelled this year.

The FIS representatives were satisfied with the slalom slope at Sljeme and praised both the Organizers and the Sljeme ski resort staff. Thanks to their efforts, the Crveni spust was ready even before the plannd FIS control, so the 3rd and 4th January races got the green light even a day earlier than expected.

As of now on the Crveni spust there's almost 1.5 meters of packed, compact snow which is plenty and will withstand any possible warmer weather unexpectedly coming along. Also this weekend with colder weather expected the snowmaking will be focused on the Zeleni spust (Green run) so it can also be ready for the warmup courses.

The races will be preceded by the public draw of the start numbers as usual, however this year and for the first time ever, the draw will take place at the King (Kralj) Tomislav Square Ice Park skating rink, with the public draw and SQT races being part of the overall Zagreb Holiday Fair Markets & Advent Winter Solstice Festivities.

On 2nd January, starting at 18:15 (6:15 pm), 15 of the top female skiers will skate across the rink to get their start numbers, while 15 of the top male skiers will be doing the same on 3rd January.

The women’s slalom race is scheduled for Wednesday, January 3rd, with the first run starting at 13.00 and the other at 16.30, while the men’s slalom race is scheduled for Thursday January 4th, with the start of the first run at 12.45 and the second at 16.30.




The skiers being presented with their start numbers at the 2010 Zagreb SQT. Image: www.eldra.hr




(The reader may wonder why I'm so supportive of this recent non-celeb news, well speaking as a skier I guess it all comes down to what I said before. It's that age-old question and enigmatic riddle that has perturbed and perplexed many great minds, thinkers and philosophers for thousands of years since time immemorial, namely..."Skiing, What is it? Friend or foe?" (you know, that whole velocity/distance/angle in relation to the earth's circumference/rotational speed thing vis a vis if you didn't ski on the mountain would it exist? or would even you exist if you didn't? (aka the skiing crocodile dilemma, "I ski therefore I am" etc), as well as the very real possibility for the existence of the previously thought mythical legend of the aerodynamically ideal perfect ski position mentioned in ancient chronicles where the skis actually float slightly above and don't even touch the snow going down the hill. Because it's all about just you and the mountain and the elements and there is no going back, time-outs, substitutions or complaining/whining/belly-aching to any ref about anything, here there's no bitching about passing or not passing a line or that someone touched you or something hit the post, either the mountain and snow becomes a part of you and vice versa or it will simply crush and annihilate you whenever it feels like it, just like a pointless foreign puny skiing mammal insect who wandered onto it's snowcapped territory, (because the mountain just doesn't care, it simply does not care about your previous stats or what round you were drafted in or what the ski reporters and armchair skiers think or what victory dance or backflips you do or how many times you had your butt slapped or how many butts you slapped, the mountains don't give a damn about any of these things because each time you start from 0 and are an equal puny nameless nothing, the ageless snowy mountain instead just mockingly says "Let's see what you got", it just doesn't give a f**k about who you think you are, just who the f**k do you think you are anyway?)...but the rewards and blessings from the ski gods looking down from above for those few who do accomplish the feat are immortality, real immortality just like those ancient ski heroes of renown from times long past who's names still echo across the mountaintops eternally, the midwinter hibernal solstice belongs to such as these, that's why truly "Skiing Is Life". Actually when you think about it, long before the invention of podiums or carbon composite graphite ski poles, the first skiers are just like a Hermóðr, Prometheus or Mercury, taking from the gods the knowledge of the enigmatic secret skiing ways and then skiing down the mountain themselves, (the very fist slaloms and downhills), and they brought the gifts of the skiing magics to the mortals far below. Well, that just about sums it up and I think the answer is self-evident, that skiing is a mantra for the ages, ageless, a philosophy (in most cases even a religion, which it is) and a way of life that contributes to civilization, progress and a better future, that's the way I see it)

(And the above information reminds me of something else, I've come across plenty of times people wearing t-shirts, or bumper stickers, coffee mugs, hats and other things with slogans written like..."Football Is Life", or "Hockey Is Life", "Baseball Is Life", "Basketball Is Life" and some other "...Is Life" examples (maybe in some other reality or galaxy). But I''m telling you they're all wrong because really "Skiing Is Life". Because besides the above reasons, life really is about staying the course to cross the finish line, it's about staying on that ski course, avoiding life's rough snow patches and not wiping out by managing life's various hills, jumps, turns, circumventing various flag poles, getting back on course and not crashing into the fence etc, there's really no balls or ballish-like objects in life bouncing, ricocheting, deflecting around you or that you have to deal with, nope, it's mainly just about skiing down that obstacles filled ski course and crossing the finish line in one piece. (you could then theoretically include quite a few other sports especially marathon running, stage cycling, those various endurance races/triathlons and probably martial arts sports with "...Is Life" slogan t-shirts and coffee mugs, (I've seen "Fishing Is Life" and "BBQing Is Life" tees and mugs too but probably way more people would disagree than agree), but "Skiing Is Life" pretty well sums it up).




Bonus updated video footage from the giving out of the start numbers for the ladies slalom, the men's start numbers will take place the next day on January 3rd. (video courtesy of Hrvatska Radiotelevizija)





Anyway like I said before, Croatian skiing is in the rebuilding stage especially since the retirement of Ivica Kostelić this year, but it's still great news, and win or lose for the individual skiers, more importantly it's a world class sporting event that promotes skiing and the skiing culture tradition in Croatia and the world, brings some of the world’s top male and female skiers to Zagreb and the Audi FIS Ski World Cup Snow Queen Trophy gets to be watched by hundreds of millions of people, which means more people will know where Croatia is, which is good to know. (without a doubt and with probably hundreds of millions of people agreeing, this is also probably the most important news item currently going on in the news in the entire world right now, more important than even all the current Golden Globes & People's Choice Awards crises talk all over the news, even more important than the celeb selfies and Hillary Clinton book tour news and probably more interesting too, all the local shootings and stabbings news can also wait until January 5th). Below I added some excerpts from last year in case the reader has never heard of the Zagreb Snow Queen (and King) slalom races, along with some cool Croatian skiing history facts and the reasons why I think this extremely prestigious and important annual sporting event/tradition should be a high priority every year...




What the heck I should just very quickly mention also that the 2018 EHF Handball Championships (Croatian: Europsko prvenstvo u rukometu - Hrvatska 2018.) will be taking place in Croatia in just a few weeks, there'll be plenty of spills, thrills, chills and topnotch elite handball action taking place as 15 mainly European nations and a team arriving from Sanjak of Smederevo will battle for the handball titleso now would probably be a good time to get tickets if you were thinking about going. (just fyi: Croatia has had a respectable amount of success with gold medal performances at the World Championships, Olympics and Mediterranean Games but so far silvers and bronzes at the European Championships, so it should be an interesting tournament anyway with lots of painted faces, wigs, banners, scarves, balloon thingies, foam hands, drums, horns, water polo caps and plenty other hats in the stands). A worldwide TV audience of more than 1.6 billion viewers is forecast for the tournament and the host venues this time will be in Zagreb, Split, Varaždin, and Poreč, all the information you need to know is at cro2018.ehf-euro.com.



I also had to update a few days later with this amusing erroneous Associated Press article from the Denver Post after the Men's Slalom races, which proves once again that it was the right thing to do starting up this blog and spreading all them truths and facts. Like I posted about previously here it's not really even surprising, as these days many sports writers and even journalists aren't exactly on the ball when it comes to history, politics and sadly even just simple basic geography. (I can perhaps understand the writer's confusion though because in Zagreb we have many popular varieties of sausages, beers and pastries/cakes also, the Zagreb Bears hockey club play in the Austrian EBEL hockey league, and of course because we ski also). However that's why for me it's important to let the world readership know that Zagreb isn't in Austria, or in Sweden, Russia, Egypt or Kosovo, likewise that Osijek, Karlovac or Vukovar isn't in Hungary, Czech Republic, Poland or Africa and that Dubrovnik, Split or Zadar isn't in Italy, France, Punjab, Middle East or Spain either, anyway this blog has always been about truth and facts and I know about these things so just take my word for it Zagreb is in Croatia.




Previous related posts: photos-of-day-50th-fis-world-cup-skiing-anniversary

free-skiing-at-sljeme-begins-bears-ebel

photos-of-day-skiing-at-platak-ski-resort

ivica-kostelic-and-8-skiers-doing-nothing

photo-of-day-fis-world-cup-alpine-zagreb

ivica-kostelic-getting-married-bears-speaking-croatian

kostelic-honored-with-skier-of-year

ivica-kostelic-makes-it-into-history

cnn-puts-zagreb-on-most-important-fis-wc-ski-venues

6th-burn-carnival-snowboard-session-rijeka

kostelic-triumphs-in-wengen

kostelic-wins-wengen-super-combined

vip-zagreb-snow-queen-trophy-2010

ivica-kostelic-wins-slalom-in-wengen

zagreb-sljeme-ready-for-vip-snow-queen

zagreb-snow-queen-trophy-at-sljeme

kostelic-wins-in-munich-at-parallel

www.skijanje.hr

why-skier-mikaela-shiffrin-loves-croatia



50th FIS World Cup Skiing Anniversary Event In Downtown Zagreb





Downtown Zagreb became a skiing mecca as 18 World Cup winners from over the decades participated in an entertaining "Legends" exhibition ski race, the event celebrated the 50th anniversary since the very first FIS World Cup Ski race took place.





*originally posted January, 2017.


The Snow Queen (Croatian: Snježna kraljica) trophy is a World Cup alpine ski race in Croatia. The men's and women's slalom races take place on the Crveni Spust (Red Slope) Medvednica mountaintop at the Sljeme-Medvenica Ski Resort just north of Zagreb, every year in early January. The women's Snow Queen alpine race debuted in 2005 and the men's event was added three years later in 2008, with the winner being crowned the Snow King. Besides the city events in Moscow and Munich, it is the only major regularly scheduled World Cup calendar event held in the vicinity of a large metropolitan area. (all pre-race activities take place in Zagreb which is just a 1/2 hour trip to Medvednica mountain)

Its current prize fund of €120,000 is one of the largest prize funds on the World Cup circuit and the races have been known to attract up to 25,000 spectators, making it one of the largest and the most visited races on the World Cup calendar. The trophy is a crystal crown with past winners' names imprinted on it. At the award ceremony, the winner is presented with a cloak and sits on a throne like a queen, and a king. The race was originally called "Golden Bear" (Croatian: Zlatni Medvjed), but from the 2006 event the name was changed in honor of Janica Kostelić, whose victories in the sport helped popularize skiing in Croatia and also paved the way for the World Cup race to be included as a premier competition for alpine skiing.

I'm not going to add images from the official World Cup slalom races, you can click onto www.snowqueentrophy.com or the other links to find out more. However these pics are from the Zagreb celebration of the 50th anniversary of the very first FIS World Cup ski race. On the 4th of January a slalom ski race of world skiing legends was organized in the very heart of Zagreb and it's the first time in history that a ski race was held in the centre of a metropolis city.

Although not an actual World Cup race, it was devised as a fun way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of World Cup skiing. 18 past World Cup winners from over the decades participated in the exhibition ski race such as Croatian favorites Janica and Ivica Kostelić, along with past legendary names such as Pernilla Wiberg, Marc Girardelli, Petra Kronberger, Tina Maze, Michaela Dorfmeister, Andreas Wenzel, Annemarie Moser-Pröll, Karl Schranz, Alberto Tomba and even an appearance by Jean-Claude Killy who won the very first World Cup in 1967. During the exhibition race, each of them used equipment or props from the time of their successful skiing careers such as skis, sticks, helmets, gloves etc.





The city of Zagreb became an alpine skiing mecca for 3 days as the entire celebration, titled “Zagreb Celebrates 50 Years of FIS Alpine Ski World Cup”, was broadcasted live by Austrian ORF, Swiss SRF, Swedish SVT, British BBC, Japanese J Sports, American NBC, and the pan-European TV network Eurosport. Check out the SQT youtube channel for more video footage.






The 200-metre-long slope ran along Bakačeva street from Kaptol Square, which is dominated by Zagreb’s Gothic Cathedral founded in the 11th century, and then down into Trg Ban Jelačić at Manduševac fountain, the city’s bustling main central square. The street connects the city’s Upper older medieval era section (Gornji Grad/Gradec) to the newer Lower town (Donji Grad/Centar), and it has a natural gradient so it was ideal for this project. Interestingly, wooden sticks were placed at the starting point of the ski track just like they did 50 years ago, while modern slalom gates were placed at the finishing line in order to show how the ski technology has changed throughout history.

It was rare because is was the first time in history that a ski race was held in the centre of a metropolis, but especially cool because of the number of past World Cup winners and skiing legends from the past 50 years gathered all at one place and event. That's also why not only Croatian Radiotelevision (HRT), but also the world media expressed their interest in broadcasting this event as well as the whole 3 day FIS Zagreb Snow Queen races live. The entire celebration, titled “Zagreb Celebrates 50 Years of FIS Alpine Ski World Cup”, was broadcasted live by Austrian ORF, Swiss SRF, Swedish SVT, British BBC, Japanese J Sports, American NBC, and the pan-European TV network Eurosport. Annually TV stations in over 25 countries of Europe.


(In 2013, the Snow Queen Trophy races were admitted to the Club5 Ski Classics, which gathers traditional organisers of the FIS Ski World Cup races. Zagreb has thus joined the company of the leading organizers of the FIS Ski World Cup races, including Val Gardena, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Kitzbühel, Wengen and Val d’Isere. Annually TV stations in over 25 countries of Europe, North America and Asia broadcast the races by Eurosport Europe, Eurosport Asia and ESPN Latin and South America, while news reports and features are transmitted in an additional 50 other countries together reaching more than 250 million households around the world).


Even though Janica has long been early retired and others, and because of numerous knee operations Ivica has been on the retirement radar the last few season also, during the transitional time the up and coming younger generation still have a prestigious local annual FIS World Cup race to be a part of. But mainly and more importantly, a world class ski race event timing with the 50th anniversary, is a great opportunity to show the world what Croatia is about and what goes on during winter. The various international television broadcasters mentioned thought so too apparently. Personally speaking as a skier myself, basically just a really cool festive 3 days for everyone involved and themed completely around skiing.

Interestingly, I should quickly note since on the topic, that although Croatia is not a very mountainous alpine nation with lots of ski slopes like some countries, but there actually is a skiing and cross-country/nordic skiing tradition along with a number of various ski clubs and schools. Even along the coastal areas when snow falls, it's not uncommon for people to pull out their skis and snowboards any chance they get (example). There are about 13 official ski resorts and centers operating annually in the country, including this Sljeme-Medvenica Ski Resort there is also Bjelolasica, Petehovac DelniceLička Velebno skijalištaRudnik-TršćeČelimbaša skijalište and others, as well as the locally popular and little known about scenic Platak Ski Resort, but skiers can be found pretty well anywhere there are hills and after the snow falls including cross country skiing and snowboarders also. Probably surprising to many, Platak ski resort is located just above the city of Rijeka along the coast, basically decent places to at least start off on an illustrious alpine skiing career. Also every winter over 200,000 Croats pack their bags and hop on trains, planes, buses or drive on skiing holidays to one of the other European ski resorts and slopes, nicknamed as the "wave of Croatian ski migrants" because various holiday special ski packages during the first week in January especially are popular, also informally called "Croatian Ski Week" since the ski resorts in Austria, Italy, Slovenia and even into Switzerland are full of Croatian families with children. As for the local ski slopes mentioned, when snow falls every ski season they regularly operate at full capacity with 10's of thousands of ski passes sold, and the good news is that the numbers of skiers on the slopes is growing every year.

*(Here's another interesting Croatian skiing trivia fact of the day also: (courtesy of www.skijanje.hr)..the first ski club in Croatia was formed in Rijeka and founded in 1885 as a private recreational ski club, which is actually almost 10 years before the first official ski club was formed in more snowier Zagreb in 1894. And the first official skiing competition race was held at a ski slope on the Učka mountain range just outside the town of Opatija in 1897, (yep, that Opatija), the first locally manufactured skis were made in 1911 as well as the first official Croatian ski camp and school was held at Mrkopalj in 1913).




As mentioned the first official ski club was formed in Zagreb in 1894, and seen below later the local HAŠK ("Hrvatski akademski športski klub" which means "Croatian Academic Sports Club") created a skiing section with the first official alpine skiing races and nordic skiing competitions starting at Sljeme Medvenica mountain in 1909. Then in 1911 the Croatian Sports Association established the ski section as one of the official national professional athletic alliances. Image credit: Croatian Cultural Society of Switzerland.



Members of the mentioned Zagreb HAŠK founded skiing club at Sljeme Medvenica mountain, when not skiing obviously. Images: www.zss.hr.



Here's a very rare photo for those gotta know Croatian skiing history buffs, a moment captured after Franjo Bučar (more about him below and his important role in skiing) at the annual assembly of the 1st Croatian Skating Society on November 12th, 1894. Bučar introduced skis and a new "ski section" with its own separate subcommittee, and interestingly with the first ski seminar being held for the Croatian Physical Education Professionals and teachers (hence the suits and ties). From that year on the Zagreb Skiing Club was born with new members joining annually.



At the summit of Sljeme on Medvenica mountain in the 1890's. (at the site where the concrete 169-metre Zagreb TV/Telecommunications Observation Tower now stands)



Skiing the Medevenica mountain trails around 1900.



should also briefly mention dr. Franjo Bučar since on the topic of skiing because of his extremely important role and influence for the sport of skiing in Croatia. Born in Zagreb in 1866, he was a writer, senior historian and a sportsman and sports writer, as well as publisher of sports manuals and rules guidelines. He studied in Zagreb, Vienna and Stockholm and completed the Classical Grammar School in Zagreb in 1886, he also graduated from the Faculty of Philosophy, History and Geography in Zagreb and from the Faculty of History in 1897 in Graz Austria. He started out working on a study of Croatian literature as well as Scandinavian literature and translating various works as well as writing prefaces and publishing works of important Croatian politicians of the Croatian crown lands within the Habsburg empire. He also is known for establishing numerous clubs and professional associations and played a prominent role in expanding the Hrvatski Sokol (Croatian Falcon) gymnastics and cultural organization. However he is best remembered today for popularizing and introducing many sports and sport disciplines in Croatia (and actively participating in them) such as gymnastics, cycling, football/soccer, handball, (as well as introducing the Croatian term "rukomet" for handball still used today and many other sport terminologies), volleyball, fencing, shooting, swimming, mountain climbing, tennis, skating, ice hockey and other sports but especially for popularizing of course.....skiing. As mentioned he greatly popularized skiing when he introduced the new sporting discipline after coming back to Zagreb in 1894 with skis and then founding the local ski club on the nearby Medvenica mountain, his first ski seminar being for the Croatian Physical Education Professionals. And not only that, incredibly just 2 years later he won a downhill skiing second place at the first Kingdom of Bohemia skiing championships competition held by the Czech Ski Club in Prague in 1896 which popularized skiing even more back home. (which could be considered the very first Croatian podium finish at a major skiing competition), soon there were ski clubs and skiers in Rijeka, Karlovac, Osijek, Vukovar, Opatija, near Split, Gorski Kotar and Lika region, locations along the Velebit mountains range and elsewhere. Later in 1909 he founded the official Croatian Sports Association and promoted olympism, founded a number of men's and women's sport clubs and still while president of the CSA he established the ski section as one of the official national professional athletic alliances. He also corresponded with major figures of European culture and sport, was awarded numerous domestic and foreign acknowledgments, diplomas, medals, awards, plaques and prizes and was editor of a number of sport magazine publications while creating a library of several thousand volumes. For this reason in 1991 the "Franjo Bučar State Award for Sport", the highest award for exceptional achievements and the meritorious development of sport, was established in Croatia and is awarded annually. But like I said his early influence in the 19th century and important role in promoting and popularizing skiing in Croatia is without equal. (basically he was one crazy traveling skiing sports dude)



Excerpt from a documentary commemorating over 120 years of skiing in Croatia, Zagreb at Sljeme and Medvenica mountain, some rare brief footage from the Zagreb HAŠK founded skiing section in 1909 and the earliest official skiing races and competitions, sort of like the origins of today's Snow Queen Trophy. (Yep, the skis were still wooden and skiing didn't become an official Olympic sport until 1936).





And in a way this downtown alpine ski hill reminds me of when the local hockey club Zagreb Medveščak (Zagreb Bears) played an actual EBEL league professional hockey game in the Pula Arena. (ie: in a 2000 year old Roman Amphitheater...in the month of September believe it or not). The timing of this 50th anniversary and of the Snow Queen World Cup races also coincides with and is a part of the Zagreb Advent & Holiday Markets festivities still going on, which I posted about a couple weeks ago. (see link), so it was an overall historic and festive atmosphere for the skiers and the fans and hopefully the annual Zagreb FIS ski slalom races will be around for many years to come. Below are some rare and interesting images from the evening.




Previous post: cnn-puts-zagreb-on-most-important-fis-worldcup-stops

More information: www.skiracing.com

www.zna.hr

www.fis-ski.com

croski.hr

www.facebook.com/skisljeme

www.youtube.com/user/FISAlpine

www.facebook.com/fisalpine

www.facebook.com/snowqueentrophy

www.snowqueentrophy.com




Images in no particular order.




















Mikaela Shiffrin was even seen among the downtown crowds. Image: www.instagram.com/cro_ski














A short montage of preparations before and during the broadcast of the 50th Anniversary FIS "World Cup Legends" exhibition ski event.







A few bonus images after all, mainly of the atmosphere during the official World Cup slalom ski races at Medvenica. And like I said, it's good to know that it's one of the most popular stops on the World Cup ski circuit, because at the very least more people will now where Croatia and Zagreb are and what goes on. (none of the usually informative sports programs on the local OMNI Television mentioned the event because it was mainly just all about the fentanyl crisis and the usual Kathleen Wynne gender reassignment into Hazel McCallion rumours gossip, so I felt it was my duty to inform the general internetland public). More images from over the 3 days at: www.facebook.com/snowqueentrophy



















Among the well-known World and European print media that conveyed their outstanding impressions of this year's Audi FIS Ski World Cup “Snow Queen Trophy” 2017 ladies’ and men’s races and 50th Anniversary events were Austria’s Die Presse, Kurier, Kleine Zeitung, Wiener Zeitung, Tiroler Tageszeitung, Salzburger Nachrichten, Heute, Österreich Wien, Die Presse, Kronen Zeitung, Der Standard and OÖ Nachrichten, Germany’s Bild, Franfurter Allgemeiner Zeitung, Münchener Merkur, Stuttgarter Zeitung, Czech Republic’s Blesk and Mladá fronta DNES, France’s L’Equipe, Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport, Corriere della Sera, La Repubblica and La Stampa, Slovakia’s Nový Čas, and Slovenia’s Delo and Večer.








Updated images from a week later, after the Zagreb Snow Queen slalom races were over, the downown temporary ski slope was used as part of the celebrations for the 6th edition of the FIS World Snow Day campaign on January 15th. Ivica Kostelić and Filip Zubčić gave free ski lessons as part of the event which promotes the tradition and sport of skiing and for children to experience and enjoy the snow and skiing.






















Free Day & Night Skiing At Sljeme Begins 




A night skiing scene at Sljeme Ski Resort Medvednica mountain near Zagreb. Image: www.vecernji.hr/Jurica Galoić/Pixsell.





*originally posted January, 2017.


I don't really do sports stories anymore for some time, but then I thought what the heck. It's about more than just about a sports score, sports trade or a sports statistic, plus I have a skiing and hockey past also. The first part isn't really news because it happens every year around this time and will only mainly affect skiers/snowboarders in the city of Zagreb area, but the related news story is pretty cool and good to know about the future of skiing around the city of Zagreb, and of the annual FIS Alpine World Cup slalom races that take place there.

In a way this reminds me of something I once read in a skiing magazine, or maybe it was Esquire or National Geographic magazine, it might have even been Playboy magazine because they have lots of interesting articles about lots of topics, it was a some kind of magazine I read somewhere anyway. It was something to the effect that in this day and age a nation can very simply be judged to be progressively civilized or not by 8 basic things, those being the quality of their...cafes and pastries, beers/wines/liquors-liquers, fashion industry (including high heel and lingerie/bikini styles), shampoos and hair conditioners, art galleries, ballerinas, their restaurant wait times and the state of it's ski slopes. Those magazine people always know what they're talking about so this is actually more important than I originally thought. (Come to think of it, I've even come across plenty of pics over the years of professional women skiers when they're not skiing, and they really were wearing high heels, hanging around cafes and restaurants and even in bikinis in the summer having drinks, heck I've even seen plenty of pics of women skiing even while wearing a bikini at the same time, so I guess it's really true. (example, which should be a possible future consideration I think, perhaps even an annual event for after the Zagreb alpine slalom races are over, they can even make it a charity event and have the donations go to the "Red Nosed Clown Doctors" or better yet the "Kale Freedom Foundation", "Affordable Plastic Surgery & Selfie Sticks For Celebs", the "Animal Voting Rights Defense League", "Crack For Critters", "Hamburgers Anonymous", "Bibles For Japan", "Friends of Sandwiches Society" or these days the very popular "Adopt-A-Celeb Fund" or whatever. (there's lots of charities out there to choose from that will gladly take the donations, I highly recommend Crack for Critters or Friends of Sandwiches because there really are lots of people without sandwiches and critters paying too high prices for crack that don't get enough exposure in the media). I think so anyway, because they already do similar things in the summer so it's just add the skis and maybe a hat and that's it)

Here's an interesting Croatian skiing trivia fact of the day since already on the topic: (courtesy of www.skijanje.hr)...the first official ski club in Croatia was actually formed in Rijeka and founded in 1885, which is actually 10 years before even one was formed in more snowier Zagreb in 1895. (perhaps sounding like a mind-boggling lie but it's true). And the first official skiing competition race was held at a ski slope on Učka just outside the town of Opatija in 1897, (yep that's not a typo, that Opatija), also the first locally manufactured skis were made in 1911 as well as the first official Croatian ski camp was held at Mrkopalj in 1913.


As for the second recent Zagreb Bears hockey news story it's also good to know. (because soon people will stop whining about the snow and cold and will then start whining about the heat and humidity, and that means that it's going to be almost time to get ready for the start of the hockey season again)...


Firstly, the skiing season is almost over so Ski Resort Sljeme decided to make skiing free and available to everyone starting yesterday, March 16, and lasting right up until the end of the skiing season.

You can go skiing every day, 9 a.m. - 6 p.m., while night skiing is also available on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 7 p.m. - 10 p.m.


But the following related news is what was more interesting, that a big makeover for Sljeme is on the horizon which will greatly improve the facilities, ski slopes and future of the annual FIS Alpine World Cup Slalom races that take place there every January. The Zagreb stop on the FIS Alpine World Cup circuit is a very prestigious event and anything that improves it is great news to me. (see 50th-fis-world-cup-skiing-anniversary-zagreb from January for more if this is new to you)

According to recent City of Zagreb press releases there will be a newer upper station for cable cars (4 person ski lifts), 10 person gondolas direct from ground level to the mountain top, a sports hall addition at the onsite ski chalet Tomislavov Dom Hotel, a heliport to pick up injured skiers, a lookout and restaurant in the TV tower, a trail for summer sledding, an adventure park….and that’s not all. A new artificial lake, an expansion of the ski slopes, and reconstruction of the ski lifts will completely transform the look of Sljeme as we currently know it, Večernji List reported on February 1st.

The “Peak zone" and "Ski complex”, which make up a total area of 115 hectares, are the first areas for urban planning as they are the highest importance so far. Their main goal, explained the Ministry of Construction and Physical Planning (MoCPP), is to increase the content of Sljeme, and thus the number of visitors to the top of the mountain. What may change, according to the current urban planning, is that existing buildings will be redeveloped so that, for example, the current upper station for the ski lifts will serve as an information and educational point.

Also work on a newer Sljeme cableway has already begun according to reports from zagreb.info in February 2017. The current Mayor of Zagreb Milan Bandić marked the official beginning of works on the demolition of the old cableway at Sljeme mountain near Zagreb in February.





The ski lifts today near the top of Medvenica mountain at the main Crveni spust (Red downhill) at Sljeme. Planned reintroduction of 84 cable cars/10 person gondolas will mean no driving necessary and being able to travel to the mountain top directly from ground level in 16.5 minutes.




The investment, which includes the removal of the old cableway and cleaning of corridors for the extended cableway route, is worth about 4.5 million kuna. The completion of this phase of the project is planned for 15 June 2017. The new cableway should then be finished by summer next year.

The main phase of the project will include the construction of facilities at the lower and upper stations of the cableway route. The final cost amount will be known in summer, when a separate competition will be announced for that part of the project by city authorities.





Aerial view of the Zagreb FIS World Cup slalom races finish line, attracting up to 25,000 spectators it is one of the largest and the most visited races on the World Cup calendar and broadcast to over 250 million households around the world. 




It was estimated that repairs would be unprofitable so the old cableway hasn't been used since 2007. The old cableway had 90 four-person cabins and could transport 450 people per hour in one direction from the near the bottom of the mountain. The speed was 3 m/s, and a one-way trip lasted 23 minutes, with the maximum height above ground while travelling at 65 metres.








The project's newer cable cars will be able to transport 1500 people per hour, consisting of 84 gondolas which can accommodate 10 people each, and travel from the low ground level station station to the mountain top station in only 16.5 minutes, the overall cableway length of 5,012 kilometres will also make it one of the most modern cablecar systems in Europe. This means local residents and foreign guests will be able to even take a Zagreb Tram directly from downtown with their skis and reach the ski slopes without having to do any driving or parking. According to www.24sata.hr tenders for the gondolas have already started at a cost of about 20 million euros.





From a recent 3D presentation to the public, the new cable cars will be able to transport 1500 people per hour, consisting of 84 gondolas which can accommodate 10 people each, and travel from the main low ground level station to the Medvenica mountain top Sljeme station in only 16.5 minutes. With a cableway length of 5,012 kilometres long it will be one of the most modern cablecar systems in Europe. More information and the 3D presentation at www.vecernji.hr.




The new cable way however is just one element of a much more extensive project for development of the Sljeme mountain.

"This will give the possibility of office or administrative space,” said the Ministry, who added that there are also plans to reconstruct the TV tower so that it will house a new catering facility at the top of the lookout point. The lookout Vidikovac will also be madeover with an update to the existing restaurant, and the underground floor will accommodate ski clubs, storage equipment for the ski slopes and ambulance and duty service HGSS (Hrvatska gorska služba spašavanja/Croatian Mountain Rescue Service).




The nearby onsite ski chalet Tomislavov Dom Hotel is also planned to get upgrades including a new sports hall addition.




A look at some of the early preparations and behind the scenes that start months before the FIS Alpine World Cup slalom races take place at Sljeme in January.









In addition to winter, special attention will be paid for the summer amenities - and it looks as though the Tomislavov Hotel will accommodate an adrenaline park, and the current “Red Slope” (Crveni spust) will be used for summer sledding in the warmer months, added the Ministry.
Also the upper station of the Red downhill slope will be repaired, while the upper station of the Green slope will plan on getting new facilities. On the location Brijest there are plans to build a resort and "reconstruction to improve the functionality and technical conditions" as well as updating the "Snow Queen" apartment house, the Prekratić house, MUP transmitter, Zeljeznicar and resort Grofica will all also be repaired and other nearby buildings. The current ski lifts on the mountain top at the Sljeme Ski Resort will still be used. This news will also definitely ensure that the annual "FIS Alpine World Cup Snow Queen and King Trophy" slalom races remain as one of the most popular on the FIS World Cup Skiing circuit calendar, and becomes even a better world class event.





From a previous post HERE, a few years ago even CNN International cameras and crew arrived to film a feature for their Alpine Edge report series, a report series dedicated to the world’s most famous Audi FIS Ski World Cup venues. Zagreb-Sljeme joined the series of famous ski resort meccas and Audi FIS Ski World Cup host-venues such as Val d’Isere (FRA), Wengen, Lenzerheide (SUI) and Schladming, Kitzbühel (AUT), bringing the slalom races to their worldwide TV audience.



A recent scene from the 50th FIS World Cup Alpine Skiing Anniversary and "Legends" event that also took place at Sljeme this past January. Not only a great promotion of skiing in Croatia, but also of the sport of skiing to the world in general, so another valid reason to proceed with the Sljeme upgrades and additions. (broadcasted live by Austrian ORF, Swiss SRF, Swedish SVT, British BBC, Japanese J Sports, American NBC, and the pan-European TV network Eurosport). Full story at 50th-fis-world-cup-skiing.anniversary-zagreb.



Among the well-known World and European print media that conveyed their outstanding impressions of this year's Audi FIS Ski World Cup “Snow Queen Trophy” 2017 ladies’ and men’s races and 50th Anniversary events were Austria’s Die Presse, Kurier, Kleine Zeitung, Wiener Zeitung, Tiroler Tageszeitung, Salzburger Nachrichten, Heute, Österreich Wien, Die Presse, Kronen Zeitung, Der Standard and OÖ Nachrichten, Germany’s Bild, Franfurter Allgemeiner Zeitung, Münchener Merkur, Stuttgarter Zeitung, Czech Republic’s Blesk and Mladá fronta DNES, France’s L’Equipe, Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport, Corriere della Sera, La Repubblica and La Stampa, Slovakia’s Nový Čas, and Slovenia’s Delo and Večer.





In 2013, the Snow Queen Trophy races were admitted to the Club5 Ski Classics, which gathers traditional organizers of the FIS Ski World Cup races. Zagreb has thus joined the company of the leading organizers of the FIS Ski World Cup races, including Val Gardena, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Kitzbühel, Wengen and Val d’Isere. Annually TV stations in over 25 countries of Europe, North America and Asia broadcast the races by Eurosport Europe, Eurosport Asia and ESPN Latin and South America, while news reports and features are transmitted in an additional 50 other countries together reaching more than 250 million households around the world.





The upgrades and additions will also make it easier for more people to attend the races as well as the various day and evening events on the mountain between the races.




For those unfamiliar with this topic, the FIS Snow Queen (Croatian: Snježna kraljica) trophy is a World Cup alpine ski race in Croatia. The men's and women's slalom races take place on the Crveni Spust (Red Slope) Medvednica mountaintop at the Sljeme-Medvenica Ski Resort just north of Zagreb, every year in early January. The women's Snow Queen alpine race debuted in 2005 and the men's event was added three years later in 2008, with the winner being crowned the Snow King. Besides the city events in Moscow and Munich, it is the only World Cup event held in the vicinity of a large metropolitan area.

Its current prize fund of €120,000 is one of the largest prize funds on the World Cup circuit and the races have been known to attract up to 25,000 spectators, making it one of the largest and the most visited races on the World Cup calendar. The trophy is a crystal crown with past winners' names imprinted on it. At the award ceremony, the winner is presented with a cloak and sits on a throne like a queen, and a king. The race was originally called "Golden Bear" (Croatian: Zlatni Medvjed), but from the 2006 event the name was changed in honour of Janica Kostelić, whose victories in the sport helped popularize skiing in Croatia and also paved the way for the World Cup race to be included as a premier competition for alpine skiing.


Another interesting Croatian fact of the day for the boys and girls, the mentioned Medvednica mountain and park that Sljeme is located on, and the below Medveščak Zagreb hockey club, (named after the Upper Town Medveščak neighbourhood district) all ultimately derive their name from the standard Croatian word Medvjed which means "Bear." As well as the nearby 800 year old medieval Medvedgrad fortress castle which means "City of Bears/Bear Town." That's because centuries ago and especially during the middle ages, the surrounding area was known for it's large bear popuation. (which most likely explains the hockey team logo also)





And from a previous "Photos of the Day" post a few more behind the scenes views in no particular order. 


























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