Skiing in Pljevlja: How a Man on Two Boards Influenced Others to Ski

By , 10 Feb 2019, 22:16 PM Lifestyle
Josip Zic Josip Zic Private archive

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Skiing in Pljevlja, today a town without proper ski paths, has a long tradition, and the beginnings of the development of this sport are linked to before the Second World War.

The most credited was Josip Zic from Slovenia, who did not spare any efforts to show the citizens of Pljevlja, especially in the rural area, how to master the skiing technique.

The Belgrade press wrote about his skiing work. In 1940, published under the title "Skis as means of transport by the peasants in Sandzak," it was written that Zic in 1936 "first began to ski in this area".

He did not know how to ski himself when he first arrived from the coast of Istria to Pljevlja, ten years earlier.

Sure, the harsh winters in Pljevlja made him master the skill to ease fulfilling his daily activities.

In Crepoljski, Sarajevo, he completed a course for instructors, and at Kopaonik for a master teacher.

At that time, he also worked as a part-time gym teacher at the High school in Prijepolje.

Citizens of Pljevlja, especially in the rural area, considered him weird because of the hobby he started to pursue.

The man on the two boards, as they called him, for a very short time managed to make the skiing approachable even to the most sceptical ones.

This was also contributed by a story that rapidly spread in the villages of Pljevlja that Zic on the mountain Cemerno, on his return from Rudog, managed to escape the crowd of hungry wolves on his skis.

Knowing that the peasants showed interest in skiing, Zic began to visit the villages of Pljevlja. He even went to the farthest ones, several times. He showed his skis to the villagers, and how to use them as well.

After completing the lectures, Zic would take the drawings from the suitcase, hang them on the wall of the school where he held classes, showing various skiing techniques to his "students".

After several hours of theory, Zic would take the villagers to a nearby hill where he would show them the basics of skiing.

How much interest Zic aroused among the villagers it is shown by the fact that he was known for forming the so-called skiing troops in Crljenica, Mihajlovici, Jabuci, Krći, Gotovusa, Židovići, Čemerno, Crni vrh, Obarda and Hoćevini

"I'm lucky I learned how to ski. That good Slovenian brother Zic taught me and now I can almost compete with him. If I had factory skis I would beat him. Now I use skis when I go to the town to get salt or gas. It takes me a second to get it on my skis. When I need to lay the hay to the cattle, I go on my skis and I’m there in no time. For all this is good, but I have to say that it is best for the evening sessions. Earlier, I couldn’t go to another village. Now I just stand up on my skis and in a short time, I get there. I know that the wolves cannot catch me, and we peasants are not afraid of anything else," the author of the article published in the 1940s in Belgrade's "Stampa", quoting one of the villagers from Cemerno.

In Pljevlja, from 1936 to 1937, several skiing competitions were organized in the villages of Cemerno, Zidovici and Gotovusi. In addition to locals, the army also participated.

The most interesting was the "pure peasant games", which took place in 1936 in the village of Mihailovica.

The path on which adult skiers competed was 10 kilometers long, and half the size for the kids.

In the membership category, the first place was won by Hajro Suruliz, and in the category of generation Slobodan Novakovic from Potrlice.

It was also reported that young Marko Vasovic from that village also participated, who received the skis as a gift from the garrison officer from Pljevlja.

Unlike that time, in Pljevlja today there is no organized ski resort where current generations will learn this skill and spend time outside the polluted city environment.

They do not have a ski resort, but they have the best skier in the country

Two years ago, the local government announced the construction of a ski resort in the village of Mijailovica, near the road Pljevlja - Prijepolje, but nothing has yet been done nor has been mentioned as a project to be realized in this and next year. The project involved dismantling and overhauling of the pillars and ski lifts of the old ski resort in Kosanica and installation at a new location. The ski lift in the village of Kosanica was built in the early 80s and has not long been operational. Valuable equipment is decaying and partially threatened by thieves. At the beginning of 2002, near a monastery of the Holy Trinity, a mini ski lift of 120 meters was set up in the place called Popova njiva, but it has not long been operational either. The procurement was financed by the coal mine Pljevlja, which, as it was announced, allocated 30,000 marks, and the lift was handed over to the ski club “Ljubisnja”. Although they have no ski trails, numerous skiers have achieved remarkable results at competitions in the country and abroad. One of them is Eldar Salihovic, currently the best Montenegrin skier.

Text by Goran Malidzan, on February 10th 2019, read more at Vijesti

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