07. 03. 2024

Ingemar Stenmark and his Serviceman

Elan down

A special exhibition titled "The Skier and His Serviceman" about the renowned skiing legend Ingemar Stenmark has opened on March 1st at the Alpine Ski Museum Elan in Begunje, Gorenjska. The collection belongs to Elan's technician Jurij Vogelnik, who accompanied Stenmark as his serviceman throughout his golden skiing era.

Most people quickly think of winter joys, skiing, and heroes of the slopes when they hear the brand Elan. Among them is surely the Swedish skiing legend Ingemar Stenmark. However, behind the brand and its victories stand numerous unseen heroes, among them Jurij Vogelnik – an Elan employee and Stenmark's longtime serviceman.

Jurij Vogelnik and Ingemar Stenmark

It has been 50 years since Elan received news about a talented young Swede who was achieving great results and, to top it off was skiing on Elan skis. Elan quickly selected technician Jurij Vogelnik, who had already travelled the world and spoke fluent German. They equipped him with a new pair of Elan Impuls skis and sent him to Slovakia with the task of meeting this young skier and inviting him to collaborate. Word led to action, and by the next season, Stenmark was officially skiing on Elan skis with Vogelnik always by his side.

In 1974, Stenmark won his first gold medal at the World Championships in Madonna di Campiglio. He not only propelled himself into the world of victory but also elevated the name of Elan. This drastically changed Vogelnik's everyday life. Wherever Stenmark went, Vogelnik went. He also became the designated driver. Elan provided him with a company car, and they travelled from training to training, from race to race, armed with skiing and servicing equipment. In their 15 years of joint careers, they visited 16 countries and left their mark on the golden era of alpine skiing.


"The inspiration for the exhibition came from a visit to the Vogelnik family," said Daša Ozimek, a professional museum associate and the exhibition's author. "In 2020, Jurij set up a small private collection to preserve and showcase his memories of Ingemar Stenmark's life in white arena between 1974 and 1989. He is particularly proud of the thorough record of podium finishes in their 15-year career and a rich collection of badges gathered from around the world, symbolizing their journey together. It quickly became clear that behind the numbers and photographs lay much more."

Vogelnik became an important figure in Stenmark's career. To the reserved and quiet young competitor, he became not only a serviceman but also a brother, friend, support, and protector. He recalls how often he intervened between Stenmark and his fans: "I signed hundreds of autographs in Ingemar's name. I wrote them all and distributed them, because otherwise, they would have overwhelmed him. When they rushed at him, I jumped in front of him and started handing out postcards with autographs."

alpine skiing museum elan

Rebeka Lah, brand deployment manager and head of Alpine Ski Museum, also sees significant value in this exhibition: "Nearly six years ago, as the first among skiing brands, we opened our own museum, committed to responsibly caring for and proudly sharing Elan's rich heritage with our visitors and beyond. The museum is a source of countless stories that we discover and learn about every day. They reflect the global acceptance and loyalty to the brand. This temporary exhibition reveals a special bond between the serviceman and the skiing hero, which was less visible to the public but was an important part of Ingemar's and Elan's historical successes, as well as the euphoria of all of us who followed these successes."

The exhibition will be open to the public from March 1, 2024, until the end of March next year, 2025. During this time, public tours will also be organized. You can visit the museum by purchasing a ticket from Tuesday to Sunday. On the first Sunday of each month, admission is free, so you can visit the new exhibition and the entire museum for free on Sunday, March 3rd.