One of the most respected athletes in the world, our celebrated former skier Janica Kostelic, is celebrating her 40th birthday today, and has been "retired" for 15 years.
Janica started skiing at the age of five, together with her three-year-old brother Ivica Kostelic. In her career, she achieved what almost no one is and that is why she deservedly "entered" among the 50 portraits of strong and fearless women who changed Croatia, in the book of the same name by Rosie Kugli.
Janica Kostelic, the best Croatian skier of all time, born in Zagreb, January 5, 1982. At the age of three, Janica, known as Pjegica, started skiing for the first time. And on the meadow on Sljeme, the ski resort of her childhood. With her father Ante and brother Ivica, she embarked on her life adventure. Janica's childhood was different from the lives of her peers. There was no playing with dolls or watching cartoons. In their family, everything was subordinated to training and an ascetic lifestyle. They used every free moment for training. They would get up at the crack of dawn, be first on the track, and leave last. As there was no money for warm and comfortable hotel rooms, they were often forced to sleep even under the open sky. Or in their old and not too comfortable car - Lada caravans. Snowstorms, blizzards, low temperatures, deep snow or any other obstacle could not stop them in their efforts to better improve their skiing skills. "We're in a blizzard as at home!" was a famous saying of Janica's father called Gips. It was a difficult and uncertain journey, full of falls and injuries, but Janica's dedication to winding through snowy cliffs was crowned with unimaginable successes. Janica's greatest triumph was the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, when the Croatian flag fluttered on the highest, victorious mast, and the beats of the Croatian anthem were heard all over the world. With four Olympic gold medals and two silver, Janica Kostelic became the most successful alpine skier in the history of the Winter Olympics. She won everything that could and could be won, she broke all records. She was named the best athlete in the world, she received the sports Oscar "Laureus" in Barcelona, and then she was awarded the same title by the French Sports Academy. “Maybe one day someone will show up and break my records! she said after the end of her career, but few believe it will be possible. (from the book Icons: Fearless Women Who Changed Croatia).
And one of the most important local sporting events is certainly the moment when Janica is at the Snow Queen Trophy race in Sljeme., on this day on her birthday, 16 years ago, on January 5, 2006, she completed her second run without a stick and glove and won a top third place. A ride that went down in the history of Croatian sport.
In 2006, Janica Kostelic received the highest possible sports award - she was named the best athlete in the world, and only a year later, she announced that she was retiring due to health reasons and severe injuries she had earned during her years of professional sports.
If you want to find out and read more about this fearless heroine who marked Croatian skiing, be sure to look for the book Icons: Fearless Women Who Changed Croatia, by Rosie Kugli. (Iris Iliyrica, editor: Ivana Glavaš, Illustrator: Helena Janečić).