A crowd of over 30 thousand people is cheering and waving flags. I’m right there in the middle of it overcome with unusual pride over the success of our team. I’ve never experienced something like this before. Then it strikes me: “How the heck did I end up here?”
It was at last year’s Ski Jumping World Cup finals in Planica when I first realized that something unusual was happening. For nearly four decades I was almost oblivious to professional sports. I couldn’t care less if our best athletes, “the pride of our nation” were winning or losing. In my opinion it was just some guys skiing down a slope chasing milliseconds of advantage or doing something equally stupid. Why all the fuss about it, as if a couple of medals here and there would change anything.
In the last couple of years, though, I started to follow sports literally for living. My field of expertise is still fairly limited mostly to winter sports like ski jumping, biathlon, snowboarding and cross country skiing, which the company I work for sponsors. But the commitment is all there. From a complete sports illiterate I gradually turned into a real fan. And here’s how I know it:
- Ask me about social media presence of any relevant athlete, and I’ll tell you their Twitter handle, when and what they tweeted last.
- I started reading sports pages at breakfast. It won’t take long, I’m afraid, and I’ll be fiercely discussing poor referee decisions with my male colleagues at work.
- I’m willing to let my lunch cool down not to miss the final jump of our best ski jumper.
- To top it all, I even became the go-to source of information for my husband. Names of up and coming biathletes, live results, latest interviews, competition schedules – you name it. I almost have it down to a science.
It’s difficult to come to peace with this kind of new passion if you’ve spent your entire life in blissful ignorance about everything sports related. I’m trying to find some comfort in the fact that right now our whole country is going crazy about our ski jumpers so I don’t stick out from the crowd that much. The excitement was spurred by »our guy« winning the Four Hill Ski Jumping tournament and I was not immune to it. At this moment I bet every Slovene feels as if they earned a tiny part of that golden eagle trophy by all their cheering and support.
Deep down inside I already fear of what this year’s finals in Planica will bring. If it continues like this I might even bring a flag and start jumping to the popular “who’s not jumping is not Slovene” fan chant. But if this happens, it means the damage to my wiring is irreparable and I will remain a sports fan for good.
For all the readers out there unaware of Planica phenomenon, check out this impressive video of the newly refurbished Nordic Ski Centre: