Downhill Sljeme: The legend of Zagreb returns

Croatian downhill racing returns to its birthplace, Sljeme above the capital of Zagreb, after 17 years. Third winner in fourth and final round of Unior Downhill Cup series.

Split, Soriška planina, Kope… and at the end another Croatian venue instead of Tršće. One that we couldn’t have dreamt of at the beginning of the season: Zagreb, the course on the northern side of Sljeme, also the venue of Alpine Ski World Cup.

The team of Croatian downhill veteran Nino Ružička rebuilt the classic course of 1.9 km and 270 m of elevation drop. Some new sections were added to the course that was last used in 2005 and it also received a new name DH Legends. 90 riders from Croatia and Slovenia showed up for the final round of the series and everybody was happy with the track, some just wished it was a little bit longer. It was still pretty wet for Sunday’s practice but close to ideal on Sunday, the race day.

Berginc puts cherry on top with a UDC win

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Luka Berginc, foto Duško Simić

In the end the Slovenian Luka Berginc (DH Visit Pohorje), also the fastest in the seeding run, celebrated his victory in men’s elite category. His compatriot Jan Cimperman (MTB Trbovlje/HCI) finished second 4.4 seconds down and Croatian champion Ivan Bašić (BK Coast Riders) third 7.5 behind the winner. Slovenian surprise Kristjan Vreček (Supersnurf) in fourth and Croatian Lovel Matijaš (BK Coast Riders) rounded out the top five.

This was Berginc’s first appearance in Unior Downhill Cup this year. After winning the first two rounds of iXS European Downhill Cup Luka had to sit out a big part of the season due to a concussion. He still pulled off the overall European title and put the cherry on top by winning the final round in his home series.

»I’m happy, this was a great race on an excellent track. Great vibe too, I am well motivated for next season after this and the iXS European Cup title. And slowly I’ve been able to find some sponsors as well.«

Luka Berginc
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Men’s elite podium, photo by Duško Simić

In other categories

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Frane Medić, photo by Duško Simić

Men’s U19 winner Frane Medić (BK Crikvenica) set the 4th fastest time overall. Andrej Savarin (Rajd Ljubljana) followed in second and Tin Čuljević (BBK Mirakul) in third place. The series leader Matej Kerec (KK Završnica) crashed hard in the seeding run and was taken to hospital but it reportedly not injured.

There were only two women in the race and junior Tina Smrdel (MBK Črni Vrh) was faster than the young U15 rider Eva Zala Strgar (DGK Pohorje – Spank team).

Maj Babačić (Calcit bike team) won the U17 category and Max Žvegla beat Ažbe Kalinšek (both of Bikehanic 20 Chocolates) for the first time this year. Boštjan Volf (Wolf Racing Team), one of the four riders in the field who raced the old Sljeme races, won men’s masters category, Jakob Praček (Kamplc racing team) was once again the fastest in the youngest U13 category and Berislav Topol (BBK Šišmiš) won the amateur category.