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ponedjeljak, 9. siječnja 2017.

50th FIS World Cup Skiing Anniversary Event In Downtown Zagreb &...Mirko 'Cro Cop' Filipović Victorious At Rizin World Grand Prix, Announces Retirement

Downtown Zagreb became a skiing mecca as 18 World Cup winners from over the decades participated in an entertaining "Legends" exhibition ski race, the event celebrated the 50th anniversary since the very first FIS World Cup Ski race took place.

The Snow Queen (Croatian: Snježna kraljica) trophy is a World Cup alpine ski race in Croatia. The men's and women's slalom races take place on the Crveni Spust (Red Slope) Medvednica mountaintop at the Sljeme-Medvenica Ski Resort just north of Zagreb, every year in early January. The women's Snow Queen alpine race debuted in 2005 and the men's event was added three years later in 2008, with the winner being crowned the Snow King. Besides the city events in Moscow and Munich, it is the only major regularly scheduled World Cup calendar event held in the vicinity of a large metropolitan area. (all the pre-race activities take place in Zagreb which is just a 1/2 hour trip to Medvednica mountain)

Its current prize fund of €120,000 is one of the largest prize funds on the World Cup circuit and the races have been known to attract up to 25,000 spectators, making it one of the largest and the most visited races on the World Cup calendar. The trophy is a crystal crown with past winners' names imprinted on it. At the award ceremony, the winner is presented with a cloak and sits on a throne like a queen, and a king. The race was originally called "Golden Bear" (Croatian: Zlatni Medvjed), but from the 2006 event the name was changed in honor of Janica Kostelić, whose victories in the sport helped popularize skiing in Croatia and also paved the way for the World Cup race to be included as a premier competition for alpine skiing.

I'm not going to add images from the official World Cup slalom races, you can click onto or the other links to find out more. However these pics are from the Zagreb celebration of the 50th anniversary of the very first FIS World Cup ski race. On the 4th of January a slalom ski race of world skiing legends was organized in the very heart of Zagreb and it's the first time in history that a ski race was held in the centre of a metropolis city.

Although not an actual World Cup race, it was devised as a fun way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of World Cup skiing. 18 past World Cup winners from over the decades participated in the exhibition ski race such as Croatian favorites Janica and Ivica Kostelić, along with past legendary names such as Pernilla Wiberg, Marc Girardelli, Petra Kronberger, Tina Maze, Michaela Dorfmeister, Andreas Wenzel, Annemarie Moser-Pröll, Karl Schranz, Alberto Tomba and even an appearance by Jean-Claude Killy who won the very first World Cup in 1967. During the exhibition race, each of them used equipment or props from the time of their successful skiing careers such as skis, sticks, helmets, gloves etc.

The city of Zagreb became an alpine skiing mecca for 3 days as the entire celebration, titled “Zagreb Celebrates 50 Years of FIS Alpine Ski World Cup”, was broadcasted live by Austrian ORF, Swiss SRF, Swedish SVT, British BBC, Japanese J Sports, American NBC, and the pan-European TV network Eurosport.

The 200-metre-long slope ran along Bakačeva street from Kaptol Square, which is dominated by Zagreb’s Gothic Cathedral founded in the 11th century, and then down into Trg Ban Jelačić at Manduševac fountain, the city’s bustling main central square. The street connects the city’s Upper older medieval era section (Gornji Grad/Gradec) to the newer Lower town (Donji Grad/Centar), and it has a natural gradient so it was ideal for this project. Interestingly, wooden sticks were placed at the starting point of the ski track just like they did 50 years ago, while modern slalom gates were placed at the finishing line in order to show how the ski technology has changed throughout history.

It was rare because is was the first time in history that a ski race was held in the centre of a metropolis, but especially cool because of the number of past World Cup winners and skiing legends from the past 50 years gathered all at one place and event. That's also why not only Croatian Radiotelevision (HRT), but also the world media expressed their interest in broadcasting this event as well as the whole 3 day FIS Zagreb Snow Queen races live. The entire celebration, titled “Zagreb Celebrates 50 Years of FIS Alpine Ski World Cup”, was broadcasted live by Austrian ORF, Swiss SRF, Swedish SVT, British BBC, Japanese J Sports, American NBC, and the pan-European TV network Eurosport. Annually TV stations in over 25 countries of Europe.

(In 2013, the Snow Queen Trophy races were admitted to the Club5 Ski Classics, which gathers traditional organisers of the FIS Ski World Cup races. Zagreb has thus joined the company of the leading organizers of the FIS Ski World Cup races, including Val Gardena, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Kitzbühel, Wengen and Val d’Isere. Annually TV stations in over 25 countries of Europe, North America and Asia broadcast the races by Eurosport Europe, Eurosport Asia and ESPN Latin and South America, while news reports and features are transmitted in an additional 50 other countries together reaching more than 250 million households around the world).

Even though Janica has long been early retired and others, and because of numerous knee operations Ivica has been on the retirement radar the last few season also, during the transitional time the up and coming younger generation still have a prestigious local annual FIS World Cup race to be a part of. But mainly and more importantly, a world class ski race event timing with the 50th anniversary, is a great opportunity to show the world what Croatia is about and what goes on during winter. The various international television broadcasters mentioned thought so too apparently. Personally speaking as a skier myself, basically just a really cool festive 3 days for everyone involved and themed completely around skiing.

Interestingly, I should quickly note since on the topic, that although Croatia is not a very mountainous alpine nation with lots of ski slopes like some countries, but there actually is a skiing and cross-country/nordic skiing tradition along with a number of various ski clubs and schools. Even along the coastal areas when snow falls, it's not uncommon for people to pull out their skis and snowboards any chance they get (example). There are about 13 official ski resorts and centers operating annually in the country, including this Sljeme-Medvenica Ski Resort there is also BjelolasicaPetehovac DelniceLička Velebno skijalištaRudnik-TršćeČelimbaša skijalište and others, as well as the locally popular and little known about scenic Platak Ski Resort, but skiers can be found pretty well anywhere there are hills and after the snow falls including cross country skiing and snowboarders also. Probably surprising to many, Platak ski resort is located just above the city of Rijeka along the coast, basically decent places to at least start off on an illustrious alpine skiing career. Also every winter over 200,000 Croats pack their bags and hop on trains, planes, buses or drive on skiing holidays to one of the other European ski resorts and slopes, nicknamed as the "wave of Croatian ski migrants" because various holiday special ski packages during the first week in January especially are popular, also informally called "Croatian Ski Week" since the ski resorts in Austria, Italy, Slovenia and even into Switzerland are full of Croatian families with children. As for the local ski slopes mentioned, when snow falls every ski season they regularly operate at full capacity with 10's of thousands of ski passes sold, and the good news is that the numbers of skiers on the slopes is growing every year.

*(Here's another interesting Croatian skiing trivia fact of the day also: (courtesy of first ski club in Croatia was formed in Rijeka and founded in 1885 as a private recreational ski club, which is actually almost 10 years before the first official ski club was formed in more snowier Zagreb in 1894. And the first official skiing competition race was held at a ski slope on the Učka mountain range just outside the town of Opatija in 1897, (yep, that Opatija), the first locally manufactured skis were made in 1911 as well as the first official Croatian ski camp and school was held at Mrkopalj in 1913).

As mentioned the first official ski club was formed in Zagreb in 1894, and seen below later the local HAŠK ("Hrvatski akademski športski klub" which means "Croatian Academic Sports Club") created a skiing section with the first official alpine skiing races and nordic skiing competitions starting at Sljeme Medvenica mountain in 1909. Then in 1911 the Croatian Sports Association established the ski section as one of the official national professional athletic alliances. Image credit: Croatian Cultural Society of Switzerland.

Members of the Zagreb HAŠK founded skiing club at Sljeme Medvenica mountain, when not skiing obviously. Images:

Here's a very rare photo for those gotta know Croatian skiing history buffs, a moment captured after Franjo Bučar (more about him below and his important role in skiing) at the annual assembly of the 1st Croatian Skating Society on November 12th, 1894. Bučar introduced skis and a new "ski section" with its own separate subcommittee, and interestingly with the first ski seminar being held for the Croatian Physical Education Professionals and teachers (hence the suits and ties). From that year on the Zagreb Skiing Club was born with new members joining annually.

 At the summit of Sljeme on Medvenica mountain in the 1890's. (at the site where the concrete 169-metre Zagreb TV/Telecommunications Observation Tower now stands)

Skiing the Medevenica mountain trails around 1900.

should also briefly mention dr. Franjo Bučar since on the topic of skiing because of his extremely important role and influence for the sport of skiing in Croatia. Born in Zagreb in 1866, he was a writer, senior historian and a sportsman and sports writer, as well as publisher of sports manuals and rules guidelines. He studied in Zagreb, Vienna and Stockholm and completed the Classical Grammar School in Zagreb in 1886, he also graduated from the Faculty of Philosophy, History and Geography in Zagreb and from the Faculty of History in 1897 in Graz Austria. He started out working on a study of Croatian literature as well as Scandinavian literature and translating various works as well as writing prefaces and publishing works of important Croatian politicians of the Croatian crown lands within the Habsburg empire. He also is known for establishing numerous clubs and professional associations and played a prominent role in expanding the Hrvatski Sokol (Croatian Falcon) gymnastics and cultural organization. However he is best remembered today for popularizing and introducing many sports and sport disciplines in Croatia (and actively participating in them) such as gymnastics, cycling, football/soccer, handball, (as well as introducing the Croatian term "rukomet" for handball still used today and many other sport terminologies), volleyball, fencing, shooting, swimming, mountain climbing, tennis, skating, ice hockey and other sports but especially for popularizing of course.....skiing. As mentioned he greatly popularized skiing when he introduced the new sporting discipline after coming back to Zagreb in 1894 with skis and then founding the local ski club on the nearby Medvenica mountain, his first ski seminar being for the Croatian Physical Education Professionals. And not only that, incredibly just 2 years later he won a downhill skiing second place at the first Kingdom of Bohemia skiing championships competition held by the Czech Ski Club in Prague in 1896 which popularized skiing even more back home. (which could be considered the very first Croatian podium finish at a major skiing competition), soon there were ski clubs and skiers in Rijeka, Karlovac, Osijek, Vukovar, Opatija, near Split, Gorski Kotar and Lika region, locations along the Velebit mountains range and elsewhere. Later in 1909 he founded the official Croatian Sports Association and promoted olympism, founded a number of men's and women's sport clubs and still while president of the CSA he established the ski section as one of the official national professional athletic alliances. He also corresponded with major figures of European culture and sport, was awarded numerous domestic and foreign acknowledgments, diplomas, medals, awards, plaques and prizes and was editor of a number of sport magazine publications while creating a library of several thousand volumes. For this reason in 1991 the "Franjo Bučar State Award for Sport", the highest award for exceptional achievements and the meritorious development of sport, was established in Croatia and is awarded annually. But like I said his early influence in the 19th century and important role in promoting and popularizing skiing in Croatia is without equal. (basically he was one crazy traveling skiing sports dude)

Excerpt from a documentary commemorating over 120 years of skiing in Croatia, Zagreb at Sljeme and Medvenica mountain, some rare brief footage from the Zagreb HAŠK founded skiing section in 1909 and the earliest official skiing races and competitions, sort of like the origins of today's Snow Queen Trophy. (Yep, the skis were still wooden and skiing didn't become an official Olympic sport until 1936)

And in a way this downtown alpine ski hill reminds me of when the local hockey club Zagreb Medveščak (Zagreb Bears) played an actual EBEL league professional hockey game in the Pula Arena. (ie: in a 2000 year old Roman the month of September believe it or not). The timing of this 50th anniversary and of the Snow Queen World Cup races also coincides with and is a part of the Zagreb Advent & Holiday Markets festivities still going on, which I posted about a couple weeks ago. (see link), so it was an overall historic and festive atmosphere for the skiers and the fans and hopefully the annual Zagreb FIS ski slalom races will be around for many years to come. Below are some rare and interesting images from the evening.

Previous post: cnn-puts-zagreb-on-most-important-fis-worldcup-stops

More information:

Images in no particular order.

Mikaela Shiffrin was even seen among the crowds. Image:

A short montage of preparations before and during the broadcast of the 50th Anniversary FIS "World Cup Legends" exhibition ski event.

A few bonus images after all, mainly of the atmosphere during the official World Cup slalom ski races at Medvenica. And like I said, it's good to know that it's one of the most popular stops on the World Cup ski circuit, because at the very least more people will now where Croatia and Zagreb are and what goes on. (none of the usually informative sports programs on the local OMNI Television mentioned the event because it was mainly just all about the fentanyl crisis and the usual Kathleen Wynne gender reassignment into Hazel McCallion rumours gossip, so I felt it was my duty to inform the general internetland public). More images from over the 3 days at:

Among the well-known World and European print media that conveyed their outstanding impressions of this year's Audi FIS Ski World Cup “Snow Queen Trophy” 2017 ladies’ and men’s races and 50th Anniversary events were Austria’s Die Presse, Kurier, Kleine Zeitung, Wiener Zeitung, Tiroler Tageszeitung, Salzburger Nachrichten, Heute, Österreich Wien, Die Presse, Kronen Zeitung, Der Standard and OÖ Nachrichten, Germany’s Bild, Franfurter Allgemeiner Zeitung, Münchener Merkur, Stuttgarter Zeitung, Czech Republic’s Blesk and Mladá fronta DNES, France’s L’Equipe, Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport, Corriere della Sera, La Repubblica and La Stampa, Slovakia’s Nový Čas, and Slovenia’s Delo and Večer.

Updated images from a week later, after the Zagreb Snow Queen slalom races were over, the downown temporary ski slope was used as part of the celebrations for the 6th edition of the FIS World Snow Day campaign on January 15th. Ivica Kostelić and Filip Zubčić gave free ski lessons as part of the event which promotes the tradition and sport of skiing and for children to experience and enjoy the snow and skiing.

Mirko 'Cro Cop' Filipović Wins Rizin World Grand Prix in Japan, Announces Final Retirement 24 Hours Later

Mirko 'Cro Cop' Filipović on a 7 fight win streak officially announced his retirement after victory at the Rizin World Grand Prix in Japan.

Mirko Filipović  recently wrote history with two knockouts and one technical knockout in 3 nights to win the Rizin World Grand Prix in Japan. On New Year's Eve, Mirko Cro Cop was victorious which advanced him into the finals of the Rizin Grand Prix just a few hours later.

The consecutive 4 victories to become the Rizin Grand Prix Champion came 10 years after winning the 2006 Pride World Open-Weight Grand Prix which also took place in Japan. When he first announced his decision to take part at the Rizin MMA event earlier this year, many sports journalists didn't think he would get past the first bout and probably shouldn't even be competing at the Rizin Grand Prix.

Mirko 'Cro Cop' Filipović shortly afterwards also finally called an end to his amazing career, just days after winning. Within 24 hours after arriving back in Croatia late night from Japan, he claimed that the Rizin Grand Prix title will be his last and is bowing out of the sport on a high note. Since coming back from retirement in 2015 he will finish on a 7 bout win streak.

“That was definitely my last tournament. I have health problems and this is definitely the end of my career”, Cro Cop said in an interview with Nova TV that night.

(His nickname "Cro Cop" for those unfamiliar, comes from his 6 year membership in the Lučko Anti-Terrorist Unit which is Croatia's elite Police Special Forces tactical unit)

Getty Images/Guliver Image

Filipović announced his retirement once before in 2015, but said there would be no coming back this time. “I know I have announced my retirement before, but this is definitely it”, he said. Cro Cop says that he will however stay involved in sport and has already some offers from abroad. Filipović will go down as one of the greatest heavyweights in kickboxing and mixed martial arts in history.

Although shortly after the Rizin victory he recieved several very high paying offers to fight again soon, he had to turn them down. More recently on his Official MirkoCroCop Facebook  profile he explained that his knee is badly damaged and fills with a liquid after every tough training session. As well as waiting for his fifth knee operation and tenth total, the cartilage and ligaments damage fot the last 8 years as well and constant knee pain after every hard training session, knee punctures or ice burns from cooling after every training etc.

He finished off by saying..."Unfortunately, many great champions, didn't have that privilege and pleasure as they didn't know when to stop. And they left after a line of defeats, which doesn't demean their greatness but leaves a bitter taste. I believe this is the best time to depart and I am especially happy, as leaving as a winner has no price! Thank you all from the heart for your support in my career of 20 years and thank you for every message and kind word you've ever sent me."

For more information about his last mixed martial arts performance and the Rizin Grand Prix victory click onto the links HERE.

Previous related posts: cro-cop-returns-to-k1-ring

Rizin World Grand Prix victories in order of tournament appearance. (If any videos get deleted for any reason just Google around there's plenty more)

I might as well throw in this as an addendum to the post and topic. Especially now that he's officially retired again and will have much more free time, I think Mirko should definitely get in touch with people and do some more commercials in Japan. For instance, it's not generally known that he already has some film acting experience. The movie 'Ultimate Force' was definitely not a big budget blockbuster star studded movie such as Sharktopus and every Anaconda film ever made, but he has some commercials experience also. In Japan he's already done a few and is well known and popular as the "World Executive" guy, so next time he should maybe consider a Japanese beer brand, batteries, antipersperants, kushikatsu or whatever.

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