In the centre of Slovakia, in the famous Turiec Basin lies the town of Martin, closely related with the history of Slovakia. It is surrounded by the Veľká Fatra and the Malá Fatra mountain ranges, the latter of which is further divided into Lúčanská and Krivánska part. To the west of Martin, in Lúčanská part of the Malá Fatra, under Veľká Lúka peak, a well-known ski resort Martinske Hole is situated. The prevailing excellent ski conditions are well-suited for winter sports, especially downhill skiing.
The first known reference to Martinské Hole as a place of hiking and skiing activities dates back to 1921. In that year the Czechoslovak Tourist Club SOKOL was founded in the town of Turčiansky Svätý Martin. In 1925 a former shepherd shelter falling into decay was repaired and rebuilt into a hut by tourists. The hut was named after the doyen of tourism Andrej Halaša – Halašovka. The intensity of activities in the area was significantly increasing and after a while its facilities were not sufficient to meet the needs of all the tourists. Therefore, in 1931 it underwent another comprehensive reconstruction. Between 1932 and 1934 the construction of a reinforced forest road leading from Martin – Stráne begun. It was used to transport material to the top of Martinské Hole, where another buildings were being put up. As early as 1933 a private “Flochova” Hut was built with room for 50 people. The original hut in Martinské Hole with a capacity of 60-70 beds was put into use in 1939. In December of the same year the Club of Slovak Tourists and Skiers was established in Turčiansky Svätý Martin. This meant the start of organized skiing in Martinské Hole area. During the World War II, on October 30, 1944, Germans burned down all the structures and huts in Martinské Hole. After the liberation, another round of construction began. New structures, huts in particular, were built. Already on December 23, 1945, the “Malá” Hut with a capacity of 40 beds was put into operation.
In 1946, reconstruction of the original road and construction of a farm building with cowsheds began. It was the first step before the construction of a new hut in Martinské Hole as we know it today could start in 1947. Its total capacity was 80 beds. Financial costs were covered by money collected in a nationwide fund-raising campaign based on appeal to all Czechoslovakia nationals, by UNRRA support and thanks to the Government and Board of Commissioners funding. The hut was approved and opened for public in 1949. Since then there were two physical education organizations – Dynamo and Spartak. In 1957 they merged and formed a single unit called TJ Strojárne Martin.
The first ski lift powered by the famous TURDUS engine was erected in 1957. The ever-increasing interest in winter sports, particularly skiing, required construction of another ski and accommodation facilities. In 1964-65 the Department of Tourism and Skiing put up a hut solely for hiking and skiing activities. This building is nowadays used by the Management of Ski Lifts and Machinery. Consequently, intensive construction of ski tracks, lifts, shelters and cottages started off. Over the years 1968-1969 the ski lift No. 1 with shelter was built, followed by the ski lift No. 2, to which a guest house was added later on. Keeping up with the development of tourism, the ski lifts were gradually modernized. In 1974, a modern French-made POMAGALSKI ski lift No. 3 was put into operation. Based on this model, the license production of TATRAPOMA ski lifts was launched in Kežmarok. During the next stage, ski lift No. 4 TATRAPOMA and LV-200 with illuminated ski run were built. Over the period of 1986 to 1988 the original ski lifts TRANSPORTA were replaced by TATRAPOMA ones. The total transport capacity rose to 4,500 people per hour.
Martinské Hole area was made accessible from Martin – Stráne in 1974. From this year on hikers and tourists could use a chairlift with a capacity of 300 people per hour. Increase in the overall transport capacity came hand in hand with construction of new ski runs. Their total length exceeded 8,000 metres. Considering the slope gradient from 10 to 38 degrees, the ski slopes are predetermined to recreational and especially downhill race skiing. For that reason, they were homologated to meet FIS race skiing requirements. Ski run preparation began already in 1969. The type of snowcat used at that time was RATRAC SR 45.
An international event of significance and one of the oldest alpine ski races – Janko Novák Memorial Race, is held in honour of a fallen partisan, promising skier, graphic designer and artist, who was killed in Martinské Hole on October 3, 1944. The 1st year took place already in 1949. Year by year, the best racers and Czechoslovak representatives participated in this competition. In Martinské Hole, ski races were, and still are, organized - ČSR, ČSSR, ČSFR and SR championships, national pre-junior championship with international participation called “O Martinský Spiežovec” or competitions of visually/auditorilly impaired and handicapped young people. By creating excellent conditions for skiing and thanks to building a large member base and the base of officials, the requirements for quality training and development of numerous skiing personalities and champions of Slovakia or even Czechoslovakia were gradually met. Skiers brought up on the slopes of Martinské Hole represented Slovakia at the most prestigious sporting events: the Olympic Games, the Paralympic Games, World Championship, World Cup and European Cup, World Universiade and World Academic Championship.
Source: Rastislav Mažgút
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