Ljubljana, 16 February 2021 – In the middle of a series of consecutive victories, the hockey players of HDD SIJ Acroni Jesenice put down their skates for one morning and swapped them for cross-country skis. The slightly different training session took place in Planica in the immediate vicinity of the ski flying hill, and was supervised by Petra Majdič, a former cross-country skier, Olympic medallist, and ambassador of the Mind of Steel project of the SIJ Group. This was the tenth training session in a set of activities organised by the SIJ Group, which is using its Mind of Steel sponsorship programme to promote and strengthen the mind of steel among members of sports clubs that it supports and young people in local communities in which the companies of the SIJ Group operate. The training session was organised in cooperation with SIJ Acroni from the SIJ Group and the HDD SIJ Acroni Jesenice hockey club.

The more than two hours of training in the snow were extremely dynamic, as the hockey players were divided into two larger groups so that they could try both cross-country skiing techniques, classic and freestyle, and each group was further divided into smaller groups of up to six people. The numerous challenges required a wide variety of skills: from balance to explosiveness and from collaboration to competitiveness and ingenuity. Majdič and her team offered a real cross-country skiing team-building experience, and the hockey players took full advantage of it. Even head coach Mitja Šivic and his assistants Anže Ulčar and Tom Cvetkovič were among her “protégés for the day”.

Mitja Šivic, head coach of HDD SIJ Acroni Jesenice, who is usually responsible for a completely different experience, was certainly an inspiration to his players: “After a difficult period of matches – this year we’ve played 41, of which we’ve won 37 – we’ve taken some well-deserved time off to recharge our batteries. Petra Majdič and I agreed to prepare a slightly different training this time based on the Olympic Games. The boys have tried their hand at cross-country skiing, which has been a very welcome change, especially since most of them aren’t skilled in this sport. Such training strengthens team spirit, interrupts the daily routine, and fills players with energy, which is very helpful. I believe that today will have a positive impact on the upcoming matches.”

Petra Majdič, ambassador of the Mind of Steel project of the SIJ Group, knows from experience that it is beneficial to enrich training with something completely different from time to time, as she believes that “it’s essential to broaden the horizons of athletes and try to familiarise them with different approaches to training so that they don’t fall into the trap of routine training processes. In sports, it’s crucial to be able to react quickly in a given situation and surprise your opponent or – when you have only your own abilities and will to depend on – to be able to train your mind so that it doesn’t stop you and you can go beyond your limits. Even if only by a millimetre. Training your will is as important as physical training, as it helps you look at challenges from different angles and not deviate from your goals.”

“It’s really great that we stepped away from the ice rink for a while and tried something new. But I must admit that it was quite difficult at times (laughs) … It wasn't as easy as it looks,” the HDD SIJ Acroni Jesenice forward Andrej Hebar told us after the training. This was also confirmed by Žan Us, the first-choice goalkeeper of HDD SIJ Acroni Jesenice, but he added that the training was more relaxing than strenuous and that the hockey players had a lot of fun with it. Sašo Rajsar, another forward of HDD SIJ Acroni Jesenice, was a little more optimistic about acquiring cross-country skiing skills: “Cross-country skiing does require slightly different movements than we’re used to performing on skates, but if we practised the techniques for a longer period of time, I'm sure we would master them quickly.” But the fear that the Jesenice hockey players, known for their mind of steel, will forever swap skates for cross-country skis is unnecessary. A new match on the ice already awaits them today, and perhaps this slightly different training session will be the cherry on top of a new victory.

The training of HDD SIJ Acroni Jesenice hockey players was already the tenth in a series of training sessions in which Petra Majdič and her team take charge and spread the mind of steel among members of clubs whose important sponsor is the SIJ Group. In the autumn of 2020, she held agility training sessions for the volleyball players of OK Fužinar and the young football players of NK Fužinar.


The SIJ Group is involved in numerous sports partnerships in Jesenice and Ravne na Koroškem, where the companies of the SIJ Group operate. SIJ Acroni Jesenice, SIJ Ravne Systems, and SIJ Metal Ravne are sponsors of several sports clubs from local areas, and due to their numerous additional activities and events that seek to awaken the mind of steel, their support takes on a new dimension and provides added value for all employees of the SIJ Group as well as local communities. At the national level, the SIJ Group is also a leading partner of the Olympic Committee of Slovenia, as it strives to raise the general awareness of healthy living and the importance of exercise as well as the awareness of the important role of steel in sports and sports infrastructure. Together, they participate in setting up steel training grounds for outdoor exercise in various Slovenian towns and award scholarships for young athletes to children of employees. With these activities and its sponsorship strategy, the SIJ Group pursues a corporate vision of sustainable development that goes far beyond corporate social responsibility for the environment and local communities.

Petra Majdič, Mind of Steel Ambassador, is a former Olympic cross-country skier and the most successful Slovenian cross-country skier of all time. The general public is familiar with her story from the Olympic Games in Vancouver in 2010, where her fall and broken ribs did not stop her from winning an Olympic medal. With her personality and life story, she embodies a mind of steel, and is now awakening it in local communities, employees, and wider society as an ambassador of the Mind of Steel project, which encompasses sponsorship and donor partnerships of the SIJ Group.


Additional information:

SIJ – Slovenska industrija jekla, d.d.

Sara Wagner, Head of Corporate Communications

Telephone: +386 1 242 98 27

Mobile phone: +386 41 313 532