Ingemar Stenmark—the Swedish skier regarded as the best of all time with a record 86 World Cup wins—owes much of his success to Slovenian-based company Elan. To celebrate over 70 years of dedication to the skiing community, Elan opened their Alpine Ski Museum last month near their production headquarters, a short drive north from the Slovene capital of Ljubljana (that's Lih-yoo-blih-yana).
Stenmark wielded the scissors at the ribbon cutting ceremony in June to commemorate a 16-year career of racing with Elan skis on the World Cup circuit. He was joined by his friendly rival and contemporary Bojan Križaj. Another Elan athlete, Križaj was the first Slovenian skier ever to claim a World Cup victory. Both skiers attended a panel on opening weekend, led by Elan CEO Jeffrey Tirman, to discuss the museum's exhibits and Elan's rich history of innovation.
Originally established in 1945 to make skis for the Yugoslav Partisan troops in their resistance against Nazi Germany, Elan is one of the oldest ski manufacturers in the business. In 1991, they introduced their Sidecut Extreme (SCX), the original shape ski design that revolutionized the sport—they're the reason we can all carve like pros and no recreational skier rides on stiff 205cm boards anymore.
"It is our goal to create a space where Slovenians and foreigners can see an important part of Slovenian and sports history," says Tirman.
Visitors can learn about the evolution of Elan ski technology, from yesterday's wooden matchsticks to sleek alloys of tomorrow, as well as participate in interactive equipment simulations. You will also find winning equipment, skis that have kissed the podium—Stenmark's and other Elan celebrities'—immortalized behind glass. As the first ski producer with its own museum, Elan is making a statement.
"Slovenia has an important place in the history of skiing and development of skiing equipment," says ski division director Leon Korošec. "The museum shows what we have done in the past and from where we get inspiration for the future."