A glimpse of our history
Anyone who first enters the Zgornjesavska Valley, is impressed by the views that open up on the way from Hrušica, past Dovje, Belca, Gozd Martuljek, Log, all the way to Kranjska Gora and continue to Podkoren and Rateče. Today, this journey does not take long, in comparison with times when there were no motorized means of transport.
On 14 December 1870, the Gorenjska region gains the Ljubljana – Tarvisio railway link, which enabled the valley rapid economic and tourist development. The railway thus accelerated and enabled the bourgeoisie to escape from the city to one- or several day excursions. The rising number of visitors and tourists in the Zgornjesavska Valley spread the voice across the border. An echo about the wonderful and wild nature reached foreign tourists, who chose the north-western end of our country for a stopover on their tourist route.
Initially, only a few local restaurants were offering overnight accommodation, but this was soon not enough. In 1902, the Černe family opened the first hotel, the Razor hotel. A few years later, the Slavec hotel, and before WWII, the Balkan hotel were opened.
At the end of the 19th century, the first notions of winter tourism appear in foreign countries. With general enthusiasm for sledding and skiing, the door to winter tourism opens in this area. One of the first steps in promotion of Kranjska Gora as an ideal winter destination is a poster on winter tourism, published in 1907 by the Regional Association for Tourism.
The real boom of winter ski tourism occurred after WWI. Ski courses for children and tourists, training staff for ski instructors, all this was the basis for rapid development of skiing, infrastructure and tourism in the Zgornjesavska Valley. In 1938, on the Christmas day, the first artificial ski slope was opened solemnly, which allowed skiing for skiers with average ski knowledge. Development of ski tourism slowed down during WWII.
Around 1938, Kranjska Gora had under 1,000 inhabitants, seven stores, three hairdressers, four taxi drivers, four shoemakers, four tailor shops, a blacksmith, three butchers, two bakeries, two-dollar stores, a photographer, a café and two law offices. A savings bank and a court with a land register and county prisons also had their seat in Kranjska Gora as well.
After 1930, a planned purchase of plots on the slopes of Vitranc begins for the arrangement of a modern ski resort. In 1936, the first trees fell, and the cutting of forest began to regulate the surfaces for the first ski slope, PRESEKA, which was put into public use in 1938. From the idea to the installation of the first surface lift took a decade, due to WWII. The first surface lift Preseka was solemnly opened in 1948. The first ascend was done by the designers Damjan Hladnik and Ljubo Bizjak.
In 1958, the first single chairlift VITRANC was launched, which, with an intermediate station, moved skiers and visitors to the top of Vitranc. The first plans for this chairlift were prepared by an engineer Suhač.
With the increase in the number of skiers after the 1960, with a limited number of ski slopes, and, especially with a positive and future-oriented mentality, the locals with some government leaders of the time accelerated the development of ski tourism in all directions – they have created additional ski slopes; after 1968, new surface lifts Kekec, Mala and Velika Mojca, Podles were made, and, between 1979 and 1981, extension of the ski slopes and facilities to the Korenški Kolovrati was done. After 1974, new hotels were built – Larix, Kompas, Lek and Alpina, which placed Kranjska Gora on a global tourist map.
The Preseka surface lifts from 1961 was 826 m long, with a height difference of 185 m, a capacity of 680 skiers per hour, 6 towers, 66 T-bar lifts. Manufacturer: Metalna.
I remember that we were all enthusiastic about the surface lift. I can remember very well that, as a child, after 1948, we removed the trees and cleaned the area of the first ski track – the Preseka track – with a youth work action. At the initiative of the ski clubs Železničar and Enotnost, young people from Ljubljana, Kranj, Jesenice and Zgornjesavska Valley, took a train to Kranjska Gora to prepare and arrange the first ski slope.
Until the first snowcat, conscientious and enthusiastic home skiers, clubs, schools were snow grooming, and skiers from other places often came to help. Payment for snow grooming was agreed in advance – free ski passes and discounts on their purchase. The first little improvised snowcat vehicle was made by mr. Grm for his personal use and preparation of cross-country skiing trails.
In 1966, the first proper snowcat, Snowtrac ST4, of the Swedish company AB Westeråsmaskiner, was purchased at a price of US $ 8,000. He was the first of its kind in Slovenia and even in the former Yugoslavia. This snowcat was an important acquisition of the ski resort, but it was also a means of transportation along the snow-covered hilly landscapes, to help the staff on the field, and, above all, a big attraction and an eyeful.
The snow-grooming device, dragged by the snowcat, was made by the ski slope staff themselves, with the knowledge they gained during manufacture of a hand-held snow groomer.
Snowtrac began with manufacture of snowcats in 1957 and stopped in 1980. Altogether, they manufactures 2,315 snowcats, of which 100 were made in 1966, from the serial number 730 to 829. Snowcats had a 1.6-liter Volkswagen petrol engine built in, which was then built in VW Beetles. It had 36 hp, and later increased to 54 hp. It was 1.9 m wide, weighing 1,500 kg and the maximum speed was 22 km/h.
Today’s snowcats in the Kranjska Gora ski resort cost 70 times more (USD 560,000 or EUR 480,000), have 12-liter turbo-diesel engines fitted with over 520 hp, are 4.6 m wide, weighing 13,000 kg, and the speed remained the same.
The first snow-grooming device was made in a workshop by the ski slope staff themselves. It was a hand-held snow-groomer, which the skier dragged behind him, but served its purpose. It was even sold when they got the first snowcat.
Every beginning is difficult and there was nothing different with the ski slope staff. The first ski slope staff have been volunteers for decades It was only after 1950 that the activity began to be transformed and, in 1958, the Vitranc Ski Slope Board was founded, which planned to continue with the construction and investment work on the ski lifts.
The ski lift staff are a collective, joining technical staff of various profiles: engineers, electricians, snowcat drivers, servers, ski patrol, welders, and ironworkers.
For smooth operation of the ski resort, workers at cash registers, marketing and accounting services, and other technical services are also required.
Countless sleepless nights, hours worked in the workshop, hours spent in snowcats, work done on the ground in all seasons and careful planning are necessary for everything to operate technically and logically impeccable.
The main goal of the ski lift staff is to prepare and provide excellent conditions for skiing and create the conditions that allow a visit to the ski slopes below Vitranc to always be a positive experience for all generations of skiers and ski service users.
We need to mention Vid Černe, a long-time co-worker and director of the ski resort Kranjska Gora, as ski lifts were his lifetime’s work. No one knows the history and the wandering path of the ski slope staff better than he does. He wrote many memories and impressions in several written works: Borovška vas, Cvet arnike v šopku domačih zgodb, Naš sosed Vitranc.
Thanks to a group of enthusiasts and in a desire to put Kranjska Gora to the world map of skiing, ideas have turned into action. After the idea emerged in 1965, concrete steps were made for the preparation and implementation of the project with all the necessary measurements on the ground, sketches, calculations and tourist effects for the recognition of Slovenia – at that time still within the common state of Yugoslavia.
The plans were ambitious and they anticipated the construction of ski slopes at Karavanke, in the direction of Vršič, Mojstrovke, and Kurji vrh. With realisation of these plans, Kranjska Gora would gain the most demanding ski slopes for men and women. However, various circumstances of the time stopped and abandoned the project.
On the other side of the Vitranc, a new successful story began- THE VITRANC CUP. The first episodes of organized matches date back to 1950, a year that is considered the birth of the Bukovniški downhill race with international participation. The beginner and main driving force was the skier Vojteh Budinek.
Over the years, the downhill race was changing, upgrading, and, with technical innovations and new ski lifts, changing its course.
The first Alpine Ski Competition was organised on 4-5 March 1961, under the auspices of the World Ski Federation – the 1st Vitranc Cup.
The winners of the first Vitranc Cup were Austrians Pepi Stiegler and Ernst Flach.
Slovenians also have their representatives in the history of their victories at Vitranc – Bojan Križaj, Rok Petrovič and Jure Košir.
According to the majority of foreign commentators and evaluators, the VITRANC Cup competition has been one of the best races in the white circus of ski racing since the beginning.
In the shade of high and beautiful two-thousand metre peaks surrounding Kranjska Gora, Vitranc does not express its mightiness, inaccessibility and recognisability. With its 1555 m, it cannot be considered as a high peak, but its northern slopes offer excellent conditions for the development of ski tourism. With its distinctive triangular shape, which is clearly visible from above, one of its branches reaches towards Kranjska Gora, the other towards Ledine near Rateče and the third over Ciprnik towards Tamar. Forward thinking locals with a sharp ski eye have recognized the potential for skiing tourism on the slopes of Vitranc. With easy access, the slopes of Vitranc invite to their ski trails. Different level ski slopes and rich history leave a mark on the visitors of Kranjska Gora.
One of the best-known writers of children’s and youth stories, Josip Vandot, was inspired by Vitranc to create many interesting stories and adventures of Kekec, Rožle, Pehta, Bedanec, Mojca and his other characters…
Just like any successful team, the Kranjska Gora ski resort team has a clear vision and high goals for the future. Rich history, ski tradition and the commitment of the collective are a great starting point, which we take with responsibility and enthusiasm.
Short-term goals are aimed at providing quality services during winter and summer seasons of the ski resort. Medium-term goals are aimed at restoring some of the worn ski lifts.
Moreover, the long-term goal is to reconnect the valley with the Vitranc summit using a modern gondola that will bring visitors to the most beautiful viewing point towards the north-western mountain chain of the Julian Alps.
The title of the WORLD SKI AWARDS winner means a great recognition and responsibility for future work. The WORLD SKI AWARDS is the world’s highest recognition that a ski resorts can receive and represents an OSCAR in the ski industry and winter tourism.
We are proud of our past, achieved objectives and are heading towards new challenges with great determination!