Author: Igor Rivetti
An ideal geographical position, historical circumstances and the depth of the sea have made Rijeka one of the most important and largest Central European ports. In this corner of the Earth the seemingly incompatible is combined together– the largest port city which is at the same time one of the most important ski centres in the country.
With skis on their shoulders, four Rijeka's citizens went to the last Winter Olympic Games held in Vancouver. Thus Dalibor Šamšal, Danko Marinelli, Matea Ferk and Ana Jelušić continued the tradition that officially began in 1885, when the first ski club in Rijeka and Croatia was founded under the name of Club Alpino Fiumano. Maritime Rijeka has surpassed snowy Zagreb by 10 years.
The story began with an imperial engineer, Ferdinand Brodbeck, who, at the end of the 19th century took part in the construction of Rijeka’s theatre building. Coming from Vienna, he probably thought that he would need no more than a beach towel in Rijeka, but after his first visit he realised that he needed to bring his skis with him and that is how everything began. The first skiing competition took place on the Učka Mountain, but the most important factor for the development of skiing in Rijeka is Platak, a small family ski resort located just 30 kilometres from the port of Rijeka. Platak is one of the rare ski resorts where, from the top of the ski lift, you can enjoy a view of the sea, the islands and ships. This view, thanks to the Adriatic Slalom in which even the legendary Janica Kostelić triumphed and who, upon turning 24, in front of three thousand spectators, said goodbye to skiing precisely here on Platak, is enjoyed even by the best skiers. A slalom race with a view of the sea has been held each March since 1933, and after a 14-year break, it has been held here again since 2006.
However, Platak does not only come to life when the European Cup takes place. This popular destination for skiers, snowboarders and sledgers can also be enjoyed at night on well illuminated slopes from December to March. The rest of the year is reserved for hikers and those who love mountain air or mountain biking. Of course, hiking and skiing on Platak are unimaginable without its mountain huts that offer traditional dishes and drinks, as well as accommodation in rooms, where you can enjoy a unique microclimate on the junction of the Mediterranean and the mountains. Therefore, Rijeka is an ideal place for those unable to decide between the sea and the mountains, as well as for those who love both. Only half an hour drive divides the citizens of Rijeka and their guests from lounging by the sea and sunbathing in short sleeves and having a snow ball fight or skiing in full winter gear. This is precisely the reason why in this city by the sea there is an almost equal number of swimming as well as skiing clubs. It is obvious that even Rijeka’s citizens have been unable to decide which activity they preferred.