From Friday, 13 October, Bled residents and visitors can spend their leisure time enjoying a new, sustainably-built pump track. The new sports facility is the result of the SIJ Group's partnership with the Olympic Committee of Slovenia – Association of Sports Federations (OKS – ZŠZ), the company Planapark and the Municipality of Bled. Sustainable pump tracks are unique projects that make use of a by-product of the steel industry – slag – to replace gravel and, as a result, make a significant contribution to reducing the consumption of natural resources.
By building the sustainable pump track, we are encouraging an active lifestyle among the local population and all those who will take to the track and test their mind of steel, while also contributing to the preservation of the environment by promoting cycling.
Among the guests at the opening ceremony was the Mayor of the Municipality of Bled, Anton Mežan, the Head of Corporate Communications of the SIJ Group, Sara Wagner, Vice President of the OKS – ZŠZ, Miran Kos, Director of Planapark, Janez Bajda, Head of the Regional Office of the OKS – ZŠZ Jesenice, Branko Jeršin, and Tanja Müller, Headmistress at the Prof. Dr. Josip Plemelj Bled Primary School.
Pupils from Bled’s primary school added to the event's entertainment. Young dancers under the direction of Ana Hribar performed a dance routine, and singers from the choir under the direction of Primož Mirtič Dolenc and Mateja Sirk also performed. The audience was entertained by the character Lisjak Foksi, who also came to enjoy the opening ceremony and to meet the younger participants.
I am really happy and proud that the opening of the pump track in Bled has finally come to pass. Not only because it was my personal wish to have such a facility in Bled, but because previously there had been no opportunity for it, no will, and no suitable location. Finally, it all came together. I am glad that sustainability is also being addressed, and that in Bled we are being green. Bled has a bright future in terms of cycling. My sincere wish is that you all enjoy this facility, and that you leave it in good condition for those who come after you. I hope that you will forge beautiful friendships here, perhaps even meet your first love, and that on a similar occasion you will meet again and contribute to the common good. Anton Mežan, Mayor of the Municipality of Bled
The OKS – ZŠZ and the SIJ Group have a long history of sponsorship cooperation. Through joint projects, we aim to raise people's awareness of the benefits of physical activity and encourage active leisure time. The first pump track made using slag was built in Kranj in 2021, and the second one was built in Koroška Bela in cooperation with the Municipality of Jesenice. The tracks – made of steel and slag – are proof that together we can accomplish more, and that quality leisure time is of the utmost importance today. Add to this environmental awareness and the sustainability of the new tracks, and the importance of new sporting facilities in local communities is even greater.
We are taking this focus on sustainability into our sports partnerships too. A sustainable sports infrastructure supports the development of sport for all and promotes outdoor leisure activities. Slag-based pump tracks are a case in point. An even longer tradition is the legacy of the steel street workout parks that we have been installing in local communities across Slovenia since 2014 in cooperation with the OKS – ZŠZ. We have already installed 21 of them. At the SIJ Group we are constantly striving for steel and steel by-products to be recognised as versatile materials that can also be used in sports and sports infrastructure, and which can benefit local communities and the quality of life in those communities. Sara Wagner, Head of Corporate Communications at SIJ Group
SIJ, as an important partner of the Slovenian Olympic Committee, promotes and (co-)finances the construction of sports facilities in order to provide as many Slovenian municipalities as possible with sports facilities that allow children of different ages to exercise. The track we are bringing to Bled is not your traditional sports facility. Together with our project partners, we are aware of the opportunity and the need to collaborate to provide younger generations with the most dynamic and varied exercises possible. It is also important to give them the opportunity to exercise outdoors as much as possible, as there are many more outdoor areas than indoor ones, and this also encourages exercise in the fresh air. Miran Kos, Vice-President of the OKS – ZŠZ
I would like to see more of these tracks in Slovenia. We used slag, which is a slightly different material. We used around 400 cubic metres of slag for more than 250 metres of track surface. The facility was quite a challenge to build. As we can clearly see, it is not a level surface, there are a lot of mounds, and you have to be very precise when constructing it. We have put a lot of effort into this project to make it just right. I would like to stress that everyone should use this facility sensibly, wearing the appropriate protective equipment, regardless of what form of equipment they use to tackle the course: bike, scooter, etc. Janez Bajda, Director of Planapark
At the opening ceremony, participants also had the opportunity to explore a section displaying different types of slag. Representatives of the SIJ Group gave a presentation on the process of slag production for its subsequent use in the construction industry. Janez Bajda from Planapark described the process of building the pump track to all those interested. After the official opening ceremony, the OKS – ZŠZ organised a children's workshop led by a cycling instructor, where they learned the correct technique for riding over the mounds.