Behind the scenes

Image:Behind the scenes
29. Jan, 2019 Written by: Martin Tekše
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Every big story begins behind the scenes. In the case of Elan, the backstage area is a small office in Begunje, the headquarters of the racing team. It is the workplace of Blaž Lazar, manager, coordinator and a sort of father to the team that races at ski cross events on green Elan skis. Well, it is one of his workplaces, he tends to be out a lot.

 Elan has a strong ski cross team. It is made up of racers with an impressive collection of wins, titles and medals. The girls and guys win World Cup races, world and Olympic titles, X-Games wins and make their presence known on the podium. They are an international bunch. They speak Slovenian, English, French, Russian, German, Czech ...

 Of course this international operation has its headquarters. Elan’s factory in Begunje, Slovenia, also houses the Elan Racing Team office. The room has been the same since the time of Ingemar Stenmark, Bojan Križaj, Mateja Svet ... Only the people have changed. Elan entered the ski cross world with serious intent some five years ago and soon took on one of the leading roles. The company now supports a strong Canadian contingent of Olympic champions Kelsey Serwa and Brady Leman and Olympic vice-champion Brittany Phelan. The Slovenian section is led by former world champion and world cup champion Filip Flisar. The Russian phalanx is guided by Pyeongchang Olympic bronze medalist Sergey Ridzik. Terence Tchiknavorian leads the French while Ryan Regez represents the Swiss ...

 Of course every team needs a leader, coordinator, father figure, whatever you want to call it. In Elan Racing Team the role has been granted to Blaž Lazar, a long time Elan man and head of the racing team for the past four years. Blaž is a thoughtful man and an excellent organizer. He is an avid skier and multitalented athlete who swings a mean backhand on the tennis courts in summer. Most of all, he was clearly born for his job. He is the quintessential behind the scenes man, staying well out of the limelight but always making sure everything is running as it should be. It is because the things that go on behind the curtain are often more interesting than what happens on the big stage. All the hard work that comes before success is for the most part out of the public eye. And it is not always easy. It often happens that ambition and motivation run out and crisis sets in. Opinions sometimes clash and voices are raised. These are the moments that require a clear head and thoughtful actions. It takes a certain diplomatic ability to calm things down, an eye for the bigger picture and an ability to switch perspectives. 

All these are reasons why Blaž hardly ever misses a major event, be it a world cup race, world championship or the Olympics. He also regularly takes time to visit team training sessions, especially it is time to test equipment. This grants him an excellent insight into the operation of the various teams and the mindset of individual racers. Blaž also cooperates closely with ski technicians working for the teams. “I must admit I really enjoy my job. I love travelling, I love skiing and I really love all the guys and girls in our team. Then there’s the ski cross atmosphere. It has been getting more and more competitive in recent years, but It’s still pretty relaxed. Over the four years I have been part of it professional relationships have developed into friendships,” says Blaž who also serves as a link between the racers and the R&D department. “Racers often have their own individual requests about the composition and setup of skis. That’s why our ski technicians Tomaž Trdina and Zmago Tonejc on the technical support side of things are so important. They are the link between the racing team and Elan’s R&D services,” he adds.

 Racers on the other hand are very much aware of Blaž’s contribution to the mosaic of their success. “Blaž is an excellent racing team leader. He knows how to listen and has plenty of understanding for us racers. He is also very knowledgeable about his work and making skis so he can accurately communicate our wishes to Elan’s R&D guys. Blaž iz definitely an important co-creator of my greatest successes,” says Slovenian ski ace Filip Flisar when asked about Blaž. “I have great appreciation for Blaž and his work. His contribution to the success of Elan’s ski cross team is immense. He has invested a lot of his knowledge and wisdom into us. Not only in a sports or racing sense but also as a human beiing,” said Kelsey Serwa. Brittany Phelan added: “The Elan Team is like a family. And I’m very proud to be part of it. Blaž is simply amazing. When he gave me a pair of skis to take to the podium in Pyeongchang I just had to hug him.” “We’ve had a great relationship with Elan for years. They really are dedicated to making the best skis and their development team always adds that little bit extra that makes the difference. Blaž always takes care that we racers have everything we need. We are very grateful,” said Brady Leman as all the other racers happily nod in agreement.

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