Reflections from 2023 Nordic World Championships in Planica, Slovenia

Lumi ExperiencesMarch 8, 2023

A lot has changed since the first time I skied in Planica at an OPA Cup event in 2007.

For US skiing, it’s a special venue. Tazlina Mannix won that 2007 event: an indication for many US skiers that winning in Europe is possible. In 2019, Julia Kern scored her first World Cup podium in Planica.

At World Championships this week, a bronze in the Team Sprint for Kern and Jessie Diggins, and a gold for Diggins in the 10 km Freestyle made more history for the US in Slovenia’s famous Planica venue.

I love bringing Lumi Experiences groups to the World Cup and World Championship events, so that guests can experience the unique atmosphere of international racing in person. I knew this World Championships in Planica would be a special week, both for the racing, but also for the atmosphere at the venue and the cultural activities in the corner of Europe where Slovenia, Italy and Austria meet. Sprinkle in busloads for Norwegians, Swedes, Finns (and even Americans!) and you have a recipe for an exciting international event.

Sandwiched between the American Birkebeiner and the Engadin Ski Marathon, I could only join our groups for three days in Slovenia, but they turned out to be incredible. Here are a few highlights from the week…

When flying over the Alps, make sure to get a window seat

Kicking off the morning with an Italian breakfast and snowflake cappucino

Walking to the race course beneath the backdrop of Planica’s Ski Flying hill

Lots of American flags to cheer on the US women, including Julia Kern in the 10 km Freestyle

Fans from Sweden were hoping for a Swedish skiers on top of the podium

Swedish fans on the trail

But Jessie Diggins had other plans

Cheered on by US fans

Landing on top of the podium

The first time a US cross country skier has ever won an individual gold medal at World Championships

Kudos come in to US fans from Sweden

And even Norway

 Even if they still disagree with each other

But Lumi trip leader Anna can work magic and make everyone happy

 Reporters waiting to interview athletes interview US fans instead

New Moon Ski Shop owners greet their staff member Chris Hecker, who also waxes for the US Team

Julia Kern’s mom shares stories with Lumi guests

Away from Planica’s race trails, Lumi guests walk from their hotel to the ski trails in Italy’s Saisera Valley

And enjoy the skiing in the shadows of the Julian Alps

At dinner, self-proclaimed King of the Norwegian Supporters Morten Hagenstuen congratulates the US fans on Jessie’s victory

 And Jessie collects her gold medal at the awards ceremony in Kranjska Gora

Congrats, Jessie!

Away from the race trails, Slovenia is full of activities

Like biathlon at the Pokljuka World Cup venue

And Slovenian kids practice their agility playing hockey on skis

Slovenia’s beautiful Lake Bled with it’s island church is a must-see

No Lumi trip would be complete without sledding

Or a meal at a hut

But this was the first time we have been night sledding

And it certainly won’t be the last

Back at the venue for the women’s relay, the Norwegian fans pre-game at the official Norway Ski Team Fan Truck

And follow their Pied Piper to the stands

Some fans are torn between allegiances, like this Swedish woman married to a Norwegian

She’s wearing her hand-knit relay socks, inspired by the US women, supporting the Norwegian and Swedish team

Gotta love the international support of Packers fans

As with all World Championships, there are athletes from non-traditional ski countries competing as well

And fans from all over the world

Except this year, the absence of Russian athletes and fans is notable, as is the support for Ukraine

As the women’s 4 x 5 km relay takes off

And the US women, including Rosie Brennan, take off after them

Fans along the trail stay warm with schnaps and aquavit, smuggled into the venue

Swiss supporters of Nadine Fähndrich cheers with an herbal schnaps

While Norwegian fans drink from their shot ski

Jessie and the US women put in a strong effort to catch the pack

With US fans right next to the trail

In the end, it is Norway’s women who win the relay

In front of what feels like a home-town crowd in the stands

The US women, including Julia Kern are congratulated by parents

Along with Hailey Swirbul

And take the time to chat with Lumi guests

And even sign a few autographs

Thanks to US team coach Matt Whitcomb for chatting with Lumi guests and sharing insights after the races

Garrott Kuzzy sneaking in for a rare photograph, working on his telemark landing and showing off his relay socks

Where to next… Lumi will be at the Holmenkollen World Cup in Oslo next weekend

As the world’s cross country skiers start preparing for the 2025 World Championships in Trondheim, Norway

In the meantime, so long from Planica!

Want to join one of the Lumi Experiences trips to cheer on your favorite athletes at a World Cup? Reach out to to be first to learn about our upcoming trips to World Cup events.

The first week trip was also a Lumi Experiences fundraiser to support the Trail to Gold Fellowship. The proceeds from the trip helped make a $4,000 donation to support this program, started by the National Nordic Foundation and Women Ski Coaches Association to help get more women coaches to the World Cup.

The Trail To Gold Fellowship was inspired by the book: Trail to Gold: The Journey of 53 Women Skiers; a collective effort by a community of women skiers to tell each other’s stories, and in doing so, set a track for the next generation of US skiers to find success based on the themes and values represented by those who came before them. The net proceeds from the book go towards the Trail to Gold Fellowship and provided the initial funding for the project. The book offers an excellent history of US women’s cross country skiing and is an inspiring read.

Since 2018, Lumi Experiences is thrilled to donate over $20,000 to the National Nordic Foundation in an effort to support cross country skier development in the United States through Lumi’s cross country ski vacations to World Cup and World Championships events.

If you think Slovenia & Italy look beautiful in winter, you should see them in the summertime! How about joining us for the Factory Tour trip this August, where you can ski on the Dachstein Glacier, glide through the Planica Ski Tunnel, see how skis are made and hike in Slovenia’s stunning Julian Alps?

If you’d prefer to join a trip to Italy next winter to cheer on your favorite athletes at the Tour de Ski, email Garrott to get the trip itinerary as soon as it’s available. Plus, save $300 / person when you sign up for any 2024 Lumi Experiences trip by March 31!

See you on the trail,

Garrott Kuzzy


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