Opening Ceremony of the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships Planica 2023
Event Description and Key Objectives
The opening ceremony of the FIS Nordic World Championships Planica 2023 took place on Tuesday, February 21, 2023 at the Medal Plaza in Kranjska Gora, starting at 8:23 p.m. The unique venue, created with the aim of immortalizing the heroes of the championship during the competition days of the event, provided an exceptional backdrop for the program concept on the opening day, which was entirely dedicated to Slovenian creativity, art, tradition and symbolism. The central story intertwines the most recognizable and successful individuals and groups that carry the name of Slovenia far and wide in the world. Often, with the many successes of Slovenian sports, which exceed all norms and expectations of the general public, we forget that we also have creators in other fields who go beyond the norm of everyday life and create the recognition of Slovenia in the wider environment. Planica lives in the heart of the Slovenian mountains, and the greatest symbol of Slovenian’s is certainly Triglav, which not only represents the highest mountain on the territory of Slovenia, but also the path we traveled as a nation when we finally created our home. As part of the opening ceremony, we defined the championships slogan – WELCOME HOME. WELCOME TO PLANICA. The song "O, Triglav moj dom" written by the poet and translator Matija Zemljič, set to music for the first time by the pastor and composer Jakob Aljaž, was the opening point of the event, which was arranged and performed for this occasion by a world-renowned Slovenian band Laibach, which was be accompanied on stage by many renowned Slovenian instrumentalists, vocalists and a choir. More than 30 performers created a musical backdrop that re-presented the intersection of Slovenian tradition, symbolism, avant-garde and art. This was followed by a parade of all the participants of the FIS Nordic World Championship Planica 2023, which hosted by more than 68 countries. After the official symbolic act of the opening of the championship, the whole event was rounded off by musical band Ansambel Saše Avsenika, which is certainly historically the most intertwined with Planica, its symbolism and status, which is recognized by the whole of Slovenia. A wreath of traditional compositions representing a bridge of generations, heart, Slovenian pride was accompanied on stage by more than 20 performers who showed why Slovenian national entertainment music has been creating a unique success story for more than 50 years. The intertwining of Slovenian symbols that make up the concept of the opening defined a creative platform that wanted to bring Slovenia closer to the world. Welcome home. Welcome to Planica.
2. KEY CHALLENGES 1. Venue Selection: a. finding a suitable location that meet the requirements for the opening ceremony and later on all the medal ceremonies was subjected to a line of factors - accessibility, accommodation, infrastructure, and similar. Since we knew from the start that this will be an open-air venue some special requirements where needed to take in consideration. 2. Budget Constraints: a. Organizing a major sporting event requires a significant budget, including expenses for venue preparation, marketing, logistics, accommodation, transportation, security, and more. 3. Infrastructure Development: a. The selected venue offers a challenge in regard to functional infrastructure – specially electricity and optic fibre system needed for all international broadcast elements since all the program was live. Additional infrastructure was needed to meet media and broadcasting needs, spectator areas, parking facilities, and other necessary infrastructure supplied and constructed by the OC. 4. Logistics and Transportation: a. Handling transportation logistics for athletes, officials, spectators, and artists was demanding. Ensuring efficient and reliable transportation networks, coordinating schedules, and managing traffic flow in order to have all the participants at the right time on the location was a special task for the OC. 5. Security and Safety: a. Coordinating with local law enforcement, emergency services, and security personnel to manage crowd control and enable a normal work environment for the press, media and athletes. 6. FIS ceremony rules: a. As the FIS WCH events are a constant there is a line of strict protocols to be inserted in the official program that needs to be taken in consideration. A major effort was put in changing and modernising these protocols with the full support of the FIS. 7. Weather Conditions: a. The Medal Plaza events heavily relied on favourable weather conditions as the defined program, technical requirements, live feed international signal and similar points where so technically challenging that the weather compromised their execution. A line of contingency protocols was put in order to address such situations. 8. International Regulations and Compliance: a. Hosting an event of this size involves complying with various international regulations, standards, and guidelines set by the respective governing bodies that needed to be taken in consideration and defined by the protocol OC team whit a special regard to national flags and anthems used in the opening and medal ceremonies. 9. Cultural Sensitivity: a. Organizing an international event requires considering cultural differences and promoting inclusivity. Being mindful of diverse cultural practices, customs, and sensitivities helped create a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere for participants and spectators from around the world.
Basic information about the event
3. CREATIVITY The opening ceremony for Planica 2023 was always intended to be a special event for a selection of various elements: the importance of Planica in Slovenia and the sports world, the modernization of the protocol, that was for us a must, for using the platform of live tv broadcast to really project a new face for Slovenia, a modern, fresh take on the content in respect of our tradition and core values. As we know ourselves better than anyone, we wanted to present to the world this complex Slovenian personality that grows from our fights, our successes and our failures. We climbed the highest mountains, fought a variety of battles, both, as individuals and as a nation, to be now able to live in our country. The symbol of our fights in the last 200 years is Triglav - which we presented during the event at every step – venue design, stage design, special gifts for the best athletes - the image that inspires us, our pride, our resistance and our heart. On that basis we defined the line of the scenario for the opening ceremony - an extraordinary fusion of creativity, showcasing the best of Slovenia's rich cultural heritage and musical talent. Drawing inspiration from the nation's breath-taking landscapes, vibrant traditions, and world-renowned artists, the ceremony had the goal to capture the essence of Slovenian spirit and create an unforgettable experience for athletes and spectators alike. The opening ceremony of the FIS Nordic World Championships in Planica 2023 was defined as a celebration of Slovenian culture and creativity. From the enchanting landscapes to the rich traditions and renowned music artists, each scene was designed to captivate the audience, fostering a sense of national pride and international unity. A special part of the process was also a custom-made stage design that almost resembled in a spiritual construction with an unusual high roof, special light design, a constructed catwalk in order to connect the audience and the performers. This grand spectacle left a lasting impression on the athletes and the spectators, setting the stage for an extraordinary competition that honoured the spirit of sport and the beauty of Slovenia. As the ceremony concluded, the FIS Nordic World Championships in Planica 2023 embarked on a journey of athleticism, camaraderie, and the pursuit of excellence.
4. INNOVATION Designing the Planica 2023 opening ceremony with innovative elements was an exciting endeavour. Incorporating a special music act from Laibach, featuring their special version of the song "O, Triglav moj dom," along with a unique act by DJ Umek and Ansambel Saše Avsenika, created a memorable and captivating experience for the audience. 1. Theme and Concept: we developed a cohesive theme that celebrates the rich cultural heritage of Slovenia, pays tribute to the majestic Triglav mountain, and highlights the spirit of sportsmanship and unity. The concept revolved around the idea of conquering challenges and reaching new heights. 2. Set Design and Visuals: we created a visually stunning stage design that captured the essence of the Slovenian Alps and the grandeur of the Triglav mountain. Utilizing advanced projection and lights design techniques we transformed the stage into a dynamic canvas, displaying special content and custom-made projection elements. 3. Laibach’ s Performance: As the ceremony's opening act, Laibach's performance of "O, Triglav moj dom" was introduced with anticipation and excitement. The combination of their powerful music with visually striking choreography and artistic interpretations of Triglav's iconic symbolism, created a mesmerizing audio-visual experience for the audience. 4. DJ Umek's Act: Following Laibach's performance the transition into DJ Umek's act, blending high-energy electronic music with elements that celebrate the adrenaline-fueled atmosphere of the Planica events used as a power point for the flag’s ceremony – 68 countries presented their flags and athletes to the public, incorporating dynamic lighting effects, pulsating visuals, and synchronized choreography to create an immersive and energetic experience. 5. Ansambel Saše Avsenika: As the ceremony neared its finish, for the grand finale, we introduced Ansambel Saše Avsenika, a renowned Slovenian folk music group, to infuse the performance with the country's traditional music and dance. This segment created a sense of unity, connecting the modern and traditional aspects of Slovenia's culture with is final song “Planica, Planica”.
5. EXECUTION Planning and executing the opening ceremony for a major event such as was the Planica 2923, required careful organization and coordination. We defined a general timeline and the necessary steps to consider from February 2022 to February 2023. February 2022 – May 2022 • OC defined the vision and theme and the key messages we wanted to convey through the opening ceremony. This included also establishing the budget, defined the organizing group for the opening, selection of artists, production team and venue selection. May 2022 – July 2022 • OC defined the ceremony structure, sequence of events, performances, speeches, and any special moments by OC and FIS July 2022 - September 2022 • Production team selection with finalizing technical aspects, staging, lighting, sound, and audiovisual elements and a development of the production plan. September 2022 – December 2022 • Final agreements and contracts where defined, a draft of the final script and scenario was shared to all included parties, selection of the narrators and guests. Technical production meetings for active update on the project. December 2022 – February 2023 • Stage and set design: physical environment and visual aesthetics of the ceremony. • Audiovisual content creation: pre-recorded videos, animations, or multimedia elements for the ceremony. • Full-scale rehearsals at Viba film studio: comprehensive rehearsals that integrated all aspects of the ceremony, including technical elements, performances, and timing. On site coordination and Viba film rehearsals: • Technical setup: installation and testing of all technical equipment and systems • Fine-tune performances: choreography, music, and performances on site • Dress rehearsals: for international TV feed and timing of the event • Audiovisual and lighting adjustments • Run-throughs and refinement • Finalize logistics and guest management • Safety and contingency planning
6. MEASURABLE RESULTS In terms of measurable results, the opening ceremony of the FIS Nordic World Championships Planica 2023 had impressive outcomes. Global Reach: The event had over 25,000,000 mentions on the internet and across social media channels, which indicates its widespread recognition and interest globally. TV Share: The live broadcast of the opening ceremony on TV SLO had a significant share of 30%, demonstrating the high viewer engagement and interest in the ceremony. International Coverage: The ceremony was covered by more than 18 international news channels from Europe and around the world, highlighting its international significance and popularity. Participants: More than 68 countries participated in the championship, contributing to its diversity and global presence. Audience Attendance: Despite the venue's outdoor location and the weather dependency, the event witnessed a high turnout, which is a testament to the successful execution and popularity of the event. Artist Engagement: Over 50 artists were involved in various performances, contributing to the cultural richness of the event.
7. COMMUNICATION The communication strategy for the opening ceremony was focused on maximizing the reach and impact of the event. Traditional Channels: For spreading information and raising awareness about the event, traditional communication channels were utilized effectively. This included press releases, media conferences, and advertisements. Social Media Engagement: Various social media platforms were used for real-time updates and behind-the-scenes insights. Special hashtags and social media contests were used to encourage audience participation and engagement. Digital Outreach: A dedicated website and mobile application were launched for the event, providing comprehensive information, schedules, and interactive features to enhance user experience. Press and Media Relations: We collaborated closely with press and media channels for broad coverage and promotion. Exclusive media events, interviews, and press kits were organized to facilitate this. Stakeholder Communication: Regular updates and necessary information were shared with stakeholders, participants, and official bodies through official letters, emails, and digital platforms. Public Relations: A proactive PR strategy was implemented to handle any crisis, respond to queries, and maintain a positive image of the event.
8. THE USE OF SUSTAINABLE PRACTICES Incorporating sustainable practices into the opening ceremony event was a part of the “Zelena Planica” project and a great way to demonstrate environmental consciousness and promote a more sustainable future. The OC Planica defined the following elements: 1. Waste Reduction - as a part of the official Planica 2023 venue the same waste restrictions there were applied to the main event area were applied also at the Medal Plaza. 2. Transportation - Public transportation was offered from the main venue in Planica to the Medal Plaza in Kranjska gora for spectators and for the athletes in order to combine trips between the event points. 3. Local Catering – local catering suppliers for the guest and spectators catering 4. Eco-Friendly Decorations: a special set-up for the stage all in wooden elements that where later re-used for other events and will be also used in Planica 2024. 5. Digital Communication: all communication with the athletes and the participants in the program was via digital options (email, shared platforms, q-code) 6. Carbon Offsetting: as a part of the program “Zelena Planica 2023” we calculated the event's carbon footprint and we will use the data to diminish and neutralize the emissions generated in the future events.