Marjan Fortin: Professionalism has taken the romance away

Biathlon broadcasts have been a constant on Slovenian television for many decades, and with them also Marjan Fortin, who brings the enjoyment from snow stadiums to Slovenian living rooms. Together with Pokljuka, as well as Slovenian and world biathlon, he has come a long way from a marginal military sport to one of the most attractive spectacles.

Slovenian spectators have the advantage that one of the most experienced sports journalists in the field of biathlon in the world, who has been loyal to this sport since 1989, comments on the competitions. “At that time, I somehow fell into this sport. I was a newcomer, but I spent a lot of time in hotels with Janez Vodičar. He explained to me everything about the sport, teams, coaches, I walked around with him when he asked for ammunition, the help of a masseur, etc.,” Fortin explains his entry into biathlon.

He fell in love with the sport quickly. “Everyone were approachable and I also have met the biggest stars at the time. Everything was relaxed and I really liked the people and the atmosphere. Since 1992, I have been to all the Olympics and the World Championships.”

Fortin estimates that he has commented on more than 3,000 transmissions of competitions in various sports, so he is definitely one of those who can judge biathlon and compare it to other sports.

“Back in the days, it was a different and romantic time in a way. The first races were on Thursdays, in the evening there was a party at the discos, then there was a day to sleep, on Saturday and Sunday there were two more races,” he recalls of the original competition programmes. The sport had a very important function in socializing: “I remember a small bar in Oberhof where servicemen exchanged experiences and told stories, unforgettable events in Antholz, receptions at practically all venues. We all laughed when the then President Anders Besseberg said in the 1990s that we are all a big biathlon family. But it was true,” Fortin reveals the beginnings of his reporting career.

Nowadays, things are different. The competitors are now professionals who know they would not earn anything if life is different. “I’m not saying that competitors are better today, but I dare to say that sport today is strictly just a business, and before there was more enjoyment and improvisation.”

The accompanying things have also changed. “If in the previous century when you wanted to get an information, you had to go to a coach, a serviceman, and a biathlete. You also needed to earn their trust to get some information. Today, our business seems easier because of social networks, but the danger is that we only receive information PR services want us to. They are very successful at that, but that is the way it is in all sports today.”

Just before the beginning of the IBU World Championships Biathlon 2021 Pokljuka, Fortin issued a book ‘Pokljuka 25’. The book describes 25 major biathlon competitions – World Cups and Championships that Pokljuka hosted in the past three decades.