Thursday, January 20, 2005

Agonies and Ecstasies on the Ski Slopes

Only few weeks ago there was 16 degrees Celsius in Zagreb, one of the record high temperatures for January. That led many environmentalists and other commentators to restart talking about global warming, but they also used opportunity to comment on something which at the time looked like one of Croatia's greatest follies – a World Cup slalom event at Sljeme, a ski slope near Zagreb.

Mercifully, the weather got gold again and today the very first World Cup event in Croatian history was held. Since Sljeme happened to be home slope for Janica Kostelić (Janica Kostelic), Croatia's sport superwoman, few people dared to expect anything other than another Croatian triumph. Some 25,000 spectators have gathered, many equipped with pyrotechnics and other hardware more common for soccer fans.

At the very beginning it looked like the things would go smoothly for Kostelić. Her arch-rival Anja Paerson – who always gets booed by Croatian fans on the Slovenian slopes - made an error in the first run.

Only few minutes later it was Janica's turn to make an error. The very first event held on her home turf and large expectations proved too much of a burden for her. She didn't finish the first run.

However, Ana Jelušić (Ana Jelusic) and Nika Fleiss – two other Croatian athletes – managed to win 8th and 9th place, respectively, so the very first Croatian World Cup ski event wasn't complete disappointment for the home crowd.


Blogger Michael M. said...

Tina Maze, Slovenia's great hope, also got enthusiastically booed and didn't make it past the first round.

It seemed to me that quite a few ladies were having problems; I counted at least six skiiers who messed up and didn't make it to the second round. (Kostelic and Paerson being the biggest surprises..)

I'm looking forward to Maribor.

9:30 PM  

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