Petra Majdič, Vesna Fabjan, Katja Višnar, Anamarija Lampič…how does the nation of two million people, where national sports are football, basketball and Alpine skiing, keeps on producing not just world-class xcskiers – but regularly medals in the most important races?
We went to Pokljuka, where the country’s national teams are summer-training and talked to the head coach Nejc Brodar:
How does Slovenia manage to have not just one, but a steady supply of world class skiers? We are one sporty nation. People put heart into whatever sport they chose to practice.
On the other hand, expectations are high. You qualified for the Olympics? It’s not something you would brag about. Came strong 20th. or something? People back home would not care, media wouldn’t even mention that. You have to be on the podium to catch people’s attention. And if you had a bad season – nobody would remember who you are. That’s for athelets – for coaches it’s even tougher.
Budgets are tight. We have the necessary things – otherwise we could not be winning. But we are always looking for cheaper solutions, count every euro and think how’s best to spend it.
Slovenia has only about 280 people practicing xcskiing on any level, that includes children and teenagers.
We don’t have a huge choice of talents and have to work carefully and thoughtfully with those we have.