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Stanko Bloudek, a visionary of ski jumping and flying

Stanko Bloudek was an athlete, an aircraft designer, a designer of sports facilities, and a pioneer in the establishment of many sports in Slovenia. In 1934, he was instrumental in constructing one of the biggest ski jumps in the world thus far, now called the Bloudek Giant (Giant Ski Jump), located in the valley below the Ponce mountains.

Bloudek was born in Idrija, the third of five children. His father Jaroslav was a mechanical engineer from Telče in the Moravian Highlands, employed at the Idrija mercury mine, while his mother Minka, née Lapajne, was a Slovenian. In 1894, the family moved to the Czech to Most (Brüx) where his father got a job in a brown coal mine. It was here that young Stanko attended primary school and four years of classical grammar school until his father died of a stroke in 1904. The family moved back to Slovenia, where Stanko completed his secondary education in 1908.

Active athlete and the driving force behind the development of sport in Slovenia

In 1909, Bloudek helped found Hermes Football Club. He also brought the first real football and football shoes to Ljubljana. After World War I, he was active in the Ilirija Sports Club as one of the club’s leading men until 1941. Between 1925 and 1929, he was one of the first Slovenian football players, Slovenian champion in the discus throw, and several times the Yugoslav champion in figure skating. As an organiser and patron, coach and adviser, he is credited with the beginnings and development of track and field, tennis, swimming, roller-skating, ice-skating, ice-hockey, fencing, football, skiing and, of course, ski-jumping.

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Building a giant ski jump in Planica

Stanko Bloudek designed several sports facilities. In Ljubljana, he built the first modern football pitch, tennis courts, an Olympic swimming pool, an ice-skating rink and an athletics track for the needs of the Ilirija Sports Club,

and he made his first mark in ski jumping with the construction of the first large ski jumping hill in Slovenia. It was built by Ivan Rožman upon the initiative of Jos Gorec, while Bloudek found and surveyed the site geodetically. Bloudek later took over from Rožman, enlarging and modernising the ski jump. In 1936, for the first time in history, ski jumpers flew over 100 metres down the giant hill, giving birth to the new discipline of ski flying. Thanks to Bloudek, between 1930 and 1940 the ski jump was considered the biggest in the world, with a total of 10 world records. In 2012, after being closed for more than a decade, the ski jump was completely renovated and a new intermediate ski jump was built next to it.

With all his vision and audacity, Bloudek enabled new developments in ski jumping and later also in ski flying.

Annual sports awards in Slovenia

Between 1947 and 1951, Bloudek was the president of the Yugoslav Olympic Committee and, from 1948 on, the only Slovenian to become a member of the International Olympic Committee. The biggest annual sports award in Slovenia is named after him: the Bloudek Award.

Author: Jani Drnovšek

Date: 3. March 2023

Time to read: 2 min