Today, Pokljuka is a regular venue for biathlon competitions at the highest level. Together with biathlon, Pokljuka is on the course of development which has its roots in the far past.
The Army can often be the initiator of a project. The army is cautious in picking the right place, and if possible at a charming location. Like that the location for the military post in Pokljuka – the base for the military practices of the former Yugoslav Army – was chosen.
In the military post, athletes and biathlon, which was a typical army sport four decades ago, have also found its shelter.
Olympic Games encouraged the development of biathlon in Slovenia
Slovene biathlon got the first bump at the Olympic Games in Sarajevo 1984 when it became clear that mostly Slovene athletes will compete in winter sports for the former country Yugoslavia. The army had strongly supported the Olympic project.
The athletes found their humble home for trainings at the Rudolf Badjura military post – Badjura was the first Slovene skiing teacher. Later, in the season 1992/93, already with the strong support of the Slovene army, the dream of competitions at the highest level became true. For the first time, Pokljuka hosted the World Cup competition.
At a time, 200 athletes – almost a half less than today – from 21 countries fought for the medals. The next milestone was the organisation of the World Championships 20 years ago.
The season 2006/07 is also historical for Slovenia, as Tadeja Brankovič finished third in the mass start event and with that she won the first podium for Slovenia at a home competition. In the men’s competition, Jakov Fak won gold and silver in the season 2012/13. He was the best in the 10 km sprint, and second in the mass start event.
World’s best biathletes with nice memories of Pokljuka
The biggest stars of biathlon also have nice memories of Pokljuka. The legendary Norwegian Ole Einar Bjørndalen won seven times at Rudno Polje, while French Raphaël Poirée has five victories.
In the women’s category, Sweden’s Magdalena Forsberg is at the top with seven victories, while Finn Kaisa Mäkäräinen and French Sandrine Bailly won five times.
Norway is the country with the most wins, together they have 29 gold medals from Pokljuka, 27 wins has Germany, France is third with just one victory less.
But let’s return to Pokljuka. Ambitions have been growing over the years, and the military post has become too small for the sports’ needs, as it developed fast. Before the year 2009, Sports centre Pokljuka was built, and the system for artificial snow-making was put in place.
However, the times call for new modernizations, and with the IBU World Championships 2021 Pokljuka the biathlon centre again got the required impulse for guaranteeing its competitiveness in the most watched snow sport. Apart from the renovated traffic arrangements, new electrical installations, optics, and new tracks for athletes are the most important achievements. Pokljuka does not sleep, as the plans for the future already exist.