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Slovenian Open National Hot Air Balloon Championship - Murska Sobota 2019

At the Pre-World Hot Air Balloon Championship in Murska Sobota victory went to Dominic Bareford from Great Britain, the new Slovenian champion is Vito Rome

Murska Sobota, 1 September 2019 – Today’s award of medals at the closing ceremony in the Rakičan Castle concluded the Slovenian Open National Hot Air Balloon Championship and the Pre-World Championship Murska Sobota 2019. In the overall international competition of 35 pilots from 16 countries the victory went to the current world champion, Dominic Bareford from Great Britain. The best Slovenian was Vito Rome from the Uranos Ballooning Society, who took the excellent 6th place, thus defending his national champion title. This year’s pre-championship results also qualify for the World Hot Air Balloon Championship Murska Sobota 2020, which will take place on the same location from 19 to 26 September next year. The biggest ballooning event in Slovenia, with spectacular views of a multitude of multi-coloured hot air balloons, attracted numerous delighted visitors in the vicinity of the airport and on social media, while giving much needed useful experiences to the organizers and competitors for the upcoming world championship, and refreshing the tourist offer of Murska Sobota and the region of Pomurje.

The Slovenian Open National Hot Air Balloon Championship and the Pre-World Championship took place in the vicinity of Murska Sobota, from 27 August to 1 September 2019. During the five competition days, the organizers managed, thanks to beautiful weather conditions, to execute all predicted nine flights. Pilots from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Great Britain, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russian Federation, Slovenia and USA were able to show their skills in several ballooning tasks, such as fox hunt, 3D-form, the longest line, Battleship, etc., enabling the general public to learn what hot air balloon competitions are all about. The competition kept us fully engaged, our eyes were fixed on Dominic Bareford, the current world champion from Great Britain, who scored the most points again. His runner-up was John Petrehn (USA), while third place went to Matthew Scaife from Australia. The best Slovenian representative of the young generation of Slovenian pilots was Vito Rome from the Uranos Balloon Club, who managed to defend the title of the national champion with the final 6th place in overall standings, while silver and bronze at the national level went to Jernej Bojanovič, also from Uranos, and Radoš Švagelj from the Roto Balooning Society, respectively. For this occasion, Švagelj tested the new Slovenian competition balloon, which was baptized “Štrkec” (little stork) at the opening ceremony. Slovenians have thus lived up to the high expectations and showed that they belong at the very top of this immensely interesting competitive sport. This high-class sports event, under the auspices of the FAI Ballooning Commission, was also the tryout for the world championship, which will take place next year between 19 and 26 September on the same location. The organizer of the competition is the local Roto Balloon Club, in cooperation with the Murska Sobota Urban Municipality, the Aeronautical Association of Slovenia and Aeroklub Murska Sobota.

The medals for the best balloonists were awarded at the closing ceremony by Matjaž Pavlinjek, the president of the Roto Ballooning Society and director of the organization, the president of the organizational committee, Štefan Pavlinjek, and Dr Aleksander Jevšek, Mayor of the Municipality of Murska Sobota.

Upon this special occasion, the Mayor thanked the local Roto Ballooning Society for managing to bring such an important international competition to Pomurje, particularly this year, when the region is also marking 100 years of unification of Slovenians from Prekmurje with the motherland. Ballooning has a long tradition in Slovenia and Prekmurje is one of the most beautiful locations for flying with hot air balloons, due to favourable conditions and views of endless green plains. A multitude of multi-coloured balloons in the air is certainly a sight for sore eyes, and such sports competitions enhance the tourist offer of Prekmurje and also promote the visibility of Slovenia in the world. The locals from Prekmurje have proven their hospitality already back in 1994, when they hosted the European Hot Air Balloon Championship. This year’s organizational team, headed by Štefan and Matjaž Pavlinjek, boasts many years of experiences in international competitions and believes that next year, packed with new experiences from the pre-championship, it will put Slovenia on the world map of organization of top sports events. As much as 105 international ballooning teams will compete and more than 150 balloons are expected to fly next year, and this is certainly an excellent opportunity for promotion of this sport and visibility of Slovenia in the world.

Official chart with overall competition results can be found on the following link

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The largest balloon spectacle in Slovenia