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Slovenian ski jump sensation Ema Klinec had coasted to gold in the ladies’ individual event earlier in the week. When she combined with Bor Pavlovcic, who won the men’s individual, and highly-rated Nordic combined athlete Vid Vrhovnik, a first-place finish in the mixed team ski jump event at the Lysgardsbakkene Arena was as close to inevitable as sport can ever be.
“Ema is incredible,” said Italy’s Lara Malsiner, who won bronze in the ladies’ individual earlier in the week. “Slovenia’s team have very good coaches and facilities, so it is not surprising that they are ahead of the rest at the moment. I have to go to Austria to train. I can definitely see Ema becoming the best in the world, and winning Olympic gold.”
Thomas Lovelock YIS/IOC
Ema can see that, too. “I am very ambitious and I want to make it to the top,” she said. “I just need to get more confidence and hopefully I can start winning on the senior tour. I am very demanding of myself. I don’t like doing anything on half-power. I am still growing and getting stronger, so I can keep becoming a better jumper over the next few years. I wasn’t thinking about getting two medals here, but now I can enjoy it.”
Pavlovcic is also beginning to make a mark in the senior scene, and is currently 52nd in the World Cup standings. With a brand new training centre in Slovenia and the world’s number-one ranked ski jumper Peter Prevc to model themselves on, the chances of further progress are certainly strong.
“Being in such a small country, we are able to stay connected and support one another,” said Pavlovcic. “That is an advantage we have. We have a really good organisation and some great skiers to learn from. I met Peter not long ago and that was really nice. He is the best, so everyone knows him and looks up to him. Ema is going great, too. We help one another; she is a great skier. I’m very happy to win today.”
Vid Vrhovnik SLO competes in the Ski Jumping Mixed Team Competition at Lysgårdsbakkene Ski Jumping Arena during the Winter Youth Olympic Games, Lillehammer, Norway. Photo: YIS / IOC Thomas Lovelock
Klinec returned the compliment. “Bor is a good boy,” she said. “He can become very good. I believe in him.”
Others are happy just to be breathing the same air as the all-conquering Slovenians. “These guys are in World Cups,” said USA jumper Logan Sankey. “I usually watch them on TV and now I’m here skiing against them. It is amazing.”
The 11-team event saw two men (one of whom is a Nordic combined athlete) and one woman jump twice each, with their combined points deeming finishing positions. Slovenia got 709.5 points; Germany took silver with 675.5 and Austria got bronze with 666.7.
Written by YIS / IOC Nick Moore, with IOC Young Reporter Emily Bayci
Nick Moore is a reporter for the Lillehammer Youth Information Service ‘YIS’. A sports and music journalist with 20 years of experience, he covered the London 2012 Olympic Games and the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games. Based in the UK, he has written for numerous titles including FourFourTwo, The Independent, Q and The Times.