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Slovenian ski jumper Ema Klinec is unashamedly greedy for success. The Winter Youth Olympic Games 2016 double gold medallist (ladies individual and mixed team) added FIS Junior World Championship mixed team gold and ladies individual silver to her bulging trophy cabinet earlier this month.
“It’s about being the best you can,” said Klinec. “That is what I look for every day.”
Fellow Lillehammer 2016 two-time gold medal-winner Bor Pavlovcic joined Klinec in Utah, USA for the Junior World Championships and picked up men’s team gold.
“Because we are a small country we are all in one place, together in Kranj, the A team, the B team and the junior team train together,” explained Pavlovcic. “So we can always look to each other, make progress together.”
Such companionable competitiveness has certainly fostered a sharp, clear-sighted focus for Klinec. “The YOG for me, I took them as preparation for the Olympics,” Klinec said. “I saw what was different there from the world cups, like equipment, there were no sponsors (on the field of play).”
The satisfaction of having lived up to her billing as pre-event favourite in Norway (Klinec had already recorded three world cup podium finishes last season before the YOG) is still evident a year later. “If I compare world cups with YOG I would say I had more pressure in YOG because I came there as favourite,” Klinec explained.
“In the world cups I am one of the best but not the best and this is different. You fight from behind (in the world cups) and it is easier to do better jumps and surprise people. But I think I have to get used to being last on the hill and having to make the best jump to win.” She certainly does. The Slovenian has already secured one second place this season in the FIS World Cup event at Oberstdorf, Germany.
Matters are slightly different for teammate Pavlovcic. For the 18-year-old, his Lillehammer performances were a slight bolt out of the blue. “Last season was actually the only successful one for me. Before I wasn’t so good,” Pavlovcic said. “So last year I wasn’t expecting anything and then I achieved a lot.”
One immediate result of his two gold medals was a year-long extension to his scholarship awarded by the Slovenian National Olympic Committee. Both Pavlovcic and Klinec have both been back and competed in Lillehammer since the YOG. Pavlovcic describes the special place he holds in his heart for Norway’s Olympic capital. “I was there about a month ago and a lot of great memories came back, all the people, all the fun things to do, the different sports, the parties, it was amazing,” he said. “Lillehammer is maybe the best city that could host the Youth Olympics.”