Bled (pronounced [ˈbleːt] (listen); is a town on Lake Bled in the Upper Carniolan region of northwestern Slovenia. It is the administrative seat of the Municipality of Bled. It is most notable as a popular tourist destination in the Upper Carniola region and in Slovenia as a whole, attracting visitors from abroad too.
The beginnings of hockey in Bled date back to the seventies. HDK Bled was founded in 1971 and got its true image in 1975. In the 1975/76 and 1976/77 seasons, the club immediately won the title of the Republican champions of Slovenia (the second level of quality in the former Yugoslavia).
In 1972, the so-called Interest Community was established to build a tourist infrastructure. Thirty companies contributed funds for the construction of the ice rink. In 1974, a compressor-run ice rink was finally built, and the hall was under the roof in 1979.
The ice hall, as we know it today, experienced the biggest update for the needs of the Chess Olympiad in 2002. A utility and energy part, fitness spaces, offices, a restaurant and the surroundings of the hall with the Olympic Square were built.
HDK Bled is the oldest club in Bled; it still formally exist, but it is not active. Its peak development was achieved between 1985 and 1993. During this period, the members of the team began to achieve great success, winning the title of the Republican champion in 1987 (Yugoslav’s second level) and the sixth place in the last Yugoslav national championship in the 1990/91 season. Russian players Viktor Krutov and Sergei Borisov also played for the team at that period.
After Slovenia declared independence, the Bled team became a strong competitor to the leading Slovenian teams Jesenice and Olimpija. They regularly finished third in Slovenian national championship behind those two teams in following seasons.
During that time, they started with the planned education and development of young players.
Currently, there are two hockey organizations active in Bled. HKMK Bled was founded in 1999 and HDD Bled in 2006.
The organization of ICE RINKS FOR ALL is run under the exclusive role of HDD Bled with the leadership of the Slovenian hockey legend Rudi Hiti, who has been supporting hockey in Bled since the early eighties as a coach and donor.
The goals of HDD Bled are:
– to enable young players proper personal and professional development
– setting new standards for the education and development of ice hockey players based on the examples of established hockey schools around the world
– the institutionalization of the Hockey Academy and its continued recognition in Slovenia and the region
– involvement of parents in the development of the organization
– education of children in the spirits of fair play, fairness, responsibility, respect for others, solidarity, honesty, loyalty, and diligence.
Since its inception, HDD Bled has mostly performed in the national championship of Slovenia with younger categories. Also, from 2010 to 2013, senior HDD team competed in Slovenian national hockey championship.
A few interesting facts about Mr. Rudi Hiti
Mr. Rudi Hiti is a member of the Hall of Fame of the International Hockey Federation. He first experienced senior hockey as a member of youth team named HK Kranjska Gora in domestic Jesenice. Soon he played for the legendary Jesenice team and won his first national championship title in the 1966/67 season. With the transfer to the biggest rivals in Ljubljana (HK Olimpija), he raised the level of hockey and the interest for the league championship to another environment. Since 1974 he has played his games in Italy; first two years for the Alleghe team. He joined HC Bolzano for following four seasons and he became the Italian national champion three times in that period. He became one of the most popular hockey players in Italy, and his jersey was hanged under the ceiling of the Bolzano Sports Palace. In Bolzano, he also worked as a head coach. Later, as a player and coach, Rudi Hiti leads HC Como into the Italian top league.
Rudi Hiti played 177 matches (84 goals, 82 assists) for his national team. He played at the 1964 Grenoble Olympics and in Sapporo 1972 Olympics. He also played at 17 World Championships and was named four times in the All-Stars team.
As a coach, he took up the job with the national team right after Slovenia declared independence. He did an extraordinary job in bringing the young country’s hockey into the world sports map.
Each summer, in August, the Summer Hockey League is organized under Mr. Hiti’s supervision and organization. Teams from twelve countries, including Canada, USA, and Japan, have participated by now. Since 2016 it has been organized in Maribor.
His annual Academy for young hockey players is also very important. It attracts famous names from home and abroad.
Rudi Hiti was introduced to the Hall of Fame of the Hockey Association of Slovenia, the Hall of Fame of the International Ice Hockey Federation and the Temple of Slovenian Heroes. In 2013 he received the highest state award of the Republic of Slovenia: Bloudek Prize for outstanding contribution to the development of Slovenian sport.