Špela Rogelj: Speedway have a complete other format of competing then ski jumping (interview)
The inauguration of PGE Ekstraliga at the belt, the end of the ski jumping season is even closer. During the short break before the end of the season in Nizhny Tagil and Tchaikovsky, Špela Rogelj found some time for us. The nearly 27-year-old athlete is known as one of the world’s leading jumpers.
Her greatest achievement is the 4th place in the general classification in the 2014/2015 season. She stood on the podium of the World Cup five times – Lillehammer 2014 (1st place), Sapporo 2015 (3rd place), Zaō 2015 (3rd place), Hinzenbach 2015 (3rd place) and Ljubno 2016 (3rd place). In February this year, together with her teammates, they won a silver medal at the World Championships in Oberstdorf.
But why there’s Špela on speedway portal? The competitor has been interested in black sport for many years. She even had the opportunity to watch the Grand Prix competition in Krško! As she recalls, she often watches speedway competitions on Polish television, and she knows privately with Matej Žagar, who’s her…
Julia Żurakowska (Twój Portal Żużlowy): First, I’d like to ask about the last World Championship in Obestdorf. You were there and trained, but you weren’t called to start in qualifying. What was the reason of your absence?
Špela Rogelj: Well, on World Championship we have a quota of 4 and four of my teammates were better than me on training. It was hard to adapt in just one official training, but anyway my jumps were good on high level and that’s also the reason i got a chance in team event.
– Right, big congrats for the second place in team competition! If I remember correctly, You’re the second oldest jumper in the national team for this season. At that time, the young jumpers started to be successful – for example Ema Klinec, who became the World Champion on the small hill, or Nika Križnar, who is the leader of the World Cup. The young Nika Prevc is also quite successful. As one of the more experienced, do you give advice to girls? Do you see them as future leaders, such as Sara Takanashi, or do You think it’s rather a short period of such good jumps?
– If they ask something of course i say them my opinion, I help them as much as i can. I think that domination such as Sara had in past years won’t happen again. I think our team is strong and that our youngsters will be at the top every year.
– Even though you are one of the older jumpers, You’re actually less than 27 years old. It seems to me that it’a quite young age, especially since your jumps are still at a high level. However, I know that You want to end your career in two years. What is the reason for your decision?
– I still enjoy in my sport, love to train and compete, but there are other things in life which are mostly on pause with the sport career.
– I understand. As far as I know, You’re from a sport family. Your cousin Urban also trains ski jumping. It’s true that he doesn’t have the same achievements as You, but he is four years younger. By the way, today is his birthday! What does it look like when two people in the family play the same sport? From your perspective, did You feel pressure, wanting to be better than your cousin, or didn’t you even consider it?
– True. Ja he also trained ski jumping, but he ended his career a few years ago. No, I never felt pressure for me, it was really cool to have other family members training with me. It was always my dream to compete together in world cup, that never happened but anyway I am very proud on Urban for jumping on ski flying hill in Planica.
– I also know that You’re interested in speedway. Some sources say that Matej Žagar is Your cousin, others that only a friend. Can You please correct it?
– He is our family friend, my dad is his sponsor for many, many years.
– Good to know. In the next season, Matej will drive for the club from Zielona Góra. Privately, I’m from Gorzów, and these two teams are rather hostile to each other. Does something like this happen in jumping that there is more competition between the teams from the given cities than with the rest?
– Well speedway have a complete other format of competing then ski jumping. So we don’t really have these competitions between cities.
– So You have teams, such as SK Triglav Kranj or SSK Ilirija, but there is no competition between the teams, only individually, right?
– Both sports are very dangerous and require a lot of courage, but it seems to me that it is easier for an ordinary person to sit on a motorbike and ride a few meters than to jump from a hill, for example K10. If you had the opportunity, would you like to try riding a speedway bike? Or maybe you have already had such an opportunity?
For an ordinary person i think it’s easier to sit on a bike and do a few meters, ofc to do a speedway turn must be much more difficult. For an ordinary person to go on a ski jumping hill is more likely that he/she would get injured because of specifics of our equipment. I was not riding a speedway bike yet but i was riding a motocross bike, but I rather leave that to the professionals.
– Finally, I would like to ask You about the future of Slovenian speedway. Matej is an 18-time Slovenian champion and an outstanding player, but it cannot be denied that he is not the youngest player. I can see that there are many people willing to train this sport in jumping, and younger jumpers make their debut in the competition. On the contrary, it is in speedway. There are still some pretty good players like Ivačič and Škorja, but they’re not from their first youth either. From your perspective as a fan, is there any future besides Matej?
– There is some future, but most of the progress is related with money. Speedway is a pretty expensive sport so for most of the parents it’s hard to afford this sport for their kids.