STA, 13 July 2019 - The 29th season of the Slovenian football premier league will get under way today, featuring Maribor as the defending champion and nine more teams looking to upset the most dominant team in the history of Slovenian club football.
Maribor have won 16th Slovenian league titles so far and are followed by Olimpija of Ljubljana, which has restored its status as a serious rival in recent years, managing to snatch the title in 2016 and 2018.
While things were also fairly close in the last season, a strong challenge by Olimpija is looking somewhat less likely ahead of the new session, with Maribor having acquired the Ljubljana team's leading scorer and the no. 2 scorer overall in the last season Rok Kronaveter.
Maribor, who have successfully began their qualifying campaign for the Champions League, already have the league's top scorer, Luka Zahović, the son of Slovenia's former international star Zlatko Zahović. What is more, the team has been joined by the fourth best scorer of the league in the last season, midfielder Rudi Požeg Vancaš.
"I'm happy with the roster. It clearly has quality and can meet the demands we have," Maribor's head coach Darko Milanič told the press. He said the goal was to repeat the last season, when Maribor also made it to the final of the Slovenian Cup competition and to the third round of qualifying for the UEFA Europa League.
The Cup was won by Olimpija, which lost its first qualifying match for the Europa League on Thursday and has mostly been making headlines in recent weeks over reports its owner Milan Mandarić is about to sell the club to an Italian businessman.
The team's coach Safet Hadžić in confident nonetheless: "I'm very happy with the preparations... perhaps I still expect a reinforcement in a position or two, but momentarily all is ok. We're a club that is chasing the title, but we should not underestimate the other teams. Domžale and the rest are not naive."
Domžale, whose two titles date back to 2007 and 2008, is indeed looking as a potential challenger, having reinforced the team significantly. The club leadership says the goal is to advance step by step and get close to Maribor and Olimpija.
The new season will be opened today at 6pm by the Tabor Sežana - Aluminij encounter, while Maribor will also play, against Triglav at 8.15pm.
A total of 36 rounds will be played until 16 May, with a winter break scheduled between 14 December and 22 February. All the matches will be broadcast by TV Slovenija or Planet TV.
Surprising no one who’s been following her dominance of the sport throughout her short, but storied career – with the 20-year-old already having won more World Cup Events than anyone else – Janja Garnbret took another first place in Villars, Switzerland. She was joined on the Lead podium by South Korea’s Chaehyun Seo in second place, and Japan’s Ai Mori in third. Two other Slovenian women made the top ten, with Mia Krampl in fifth place and Lučka Rakovec sixth. Garnbret comes on stage at the two hour 17 minute mark in the following video.
Turning to the men’s event, this was won by Switzerland’s Sascha Lehmann, followed by YuFei Pan (China) and Alexander Megos (Germany), with Slovenia’s Domen Škofic having to make do with a fourth placed finish.
STA, 30 June 2019 - The Slovenian women's national basketball team will play in the play-off match for the quarter-finals of the EuroBasket as it ended the group stage in Serbia's Niš on Sunday in third place in Group C.
The final ranking for Slovenia was determined after a 57:75 loss to Italy today.
Slovenia opened the campaign at the EuroBasket by losing 84:88 to Hungary on Tuesday, bouncing back from the loss the next day by defeating Turkey 62:55.
Slovenia already secured the play-off match for the quarter-finals in Belgrade by beating Turkey, while today's match only determined the seeding.
Slovenia's opponent is yet to be determined, but it will be a team from Group D featuring the hosts Serbia, Belarus, Belgium and Russia.
"By making it to the knock-out stage in Belgrade, we have made our wishes come true, and places Slovenian women basketball a level higher," said head coach Damir Grgić, adding that the team needed to continue with such an approach.
This is the second the Slovenian woman basketballers participate in the European basketball championship, coming after 2017, when Slovenia finished 14th with a 1:2 record.
Spend any time in Slovenia and you’ll soon notice how active the people are, especially when it comes to enjoying the great outdoors. Whether it’s hiking, biking, mountaineering, skiing or simply foraging in the woods for mushrooms and plants, a close relationship with nature and the joys of physical exertion seem to be baked into the national character, as evident in the appearance of Mount Triglav on the Slovenian flag.
Of course, not all such activities take place on dry land, nor would they in a country blessed with so many rivers and lakes. And it’s a water-based sport that’ll be the focus of much attention this weekend, as one of the stages of the Canoe Slalom World Cup is being held, once again, in Tacen, where visitors will be able thrill to world-class athletes competing on a world-class course, all in the open air and not far from the centre of Ljubljana. Perhaps best of all, the tickets are only €5 a person, and can be bought at the event, which takes place at the Kajak kanu klub Tacen, Marinovševa cesta 8A. Note that children under the age of 15 enter free, and that dogs are not allowed.
The action officially runs for three days, from Friday 28 June to Sunday the 30th, but the programme started on Monday with various training events, and Day 1, on the official schedule, is Thursday, with extreme slalom time trails in the afternoon, and course construction and demonstration in the evening. The formal event then begins at 09:00 Friday, with heats for Groups 1 and 2, and runs until 18:00. Saturday then has the Group 1 and C2Mx semi-finals, finals and medal ceremony, the day starting at 09:00 and ending at 13:15. The same happens on Sunday for Group 2 and Extreme Slalom event, with the day running longer, to 16:00. The full programme can be found here, while all the events will also be livestreamed (here).
So if you’ve been meaning to get the River Soča all summer, but never found a free weekend, then why not head to Tacen to enjoy some white-water action, the kind you can safely watch from the stands with a cold drink in your hand.
STA, June 25, 2019 - Slovenian basketball sensation Luka Dončić has crowned his successful first year in the NBA by being selected Rookie of the Year, to become just the second European player ever to win the accolade, after Spain's Pau Gasol in 2002.
Dončić is also only the fourth international player ever to win the honours in the 73-year history of the National Basketball Association (NBA), with Canada's Andrew Wiggins (2015) and Ben Simmons of Australia (2018) being the remaining two.
The latest accolade for the 20-year-old comes after he won gold with Slovenia at the 2017 EuroBasket, and the European champion title with Spain's Real Madrid in 2018. He was also named the most valuable player (MVP) of the EuroLeague that year.
After conquering Europe, Dončić was selected with the third pick in last year's NBA Draft to become a member of the rebuilding Dallas Mavericks, the team which won the championship in 2011 and which has been facing a decline since.
The Slovenian played 72 games for the Texas team to establish himself as a de facto leader as the ageing superstar Dirk Nowitzki was bidding farewell from professional basketball. The Mavericks finished the season with a 33-49 record to miss out on a playoff berth.
In the process, Dončić scored a triple double in eight games, which puts him among the best rookies ever in this department - trailing only the legendary Oscar Robertson (26 in the 1960/1961 season) and Ben Simmons (12 in the 2017/2018 season).
Named after the former Philadelphia Warriors head coach Eddie Gottlieb, the NBA Rookie of the Year trophy has been conferred since the 1952/53 season, with the best newcomers in the world's strongest basketball league being picked by reporters from the US and Canada.
As many as 16 winners of the award went on to win the league MVP award, while 19 of them who are no longer active or are deceased having already been inducted in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Dončić has been named the NBA Rookie of the Year ahead of Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks, for whom he was swapped on the draft night to end up in the Mavericks, and last year's first pick DeAndre Ayton of the Phoenix Suns.
While the battle for the accolade with Young was close during the whole last season, Dončić nevertheless stood out with his numbers, averaging 21.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 6 assists to win six consecutive Western Conference Rookie of the Month awards.
By securing the averages of at least 20 points, seven rebounds and five assists per game four games left to play in the regular season, he became only the second rookie to reach those benchmarks in the history of the league along with Oscar Robertson.
In this respect, he was ahead of NBA greats such as Michael Jordan (28.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists), Magic Johnson (18, 7.7 and 7.3) and LeBron James (20.9, 5.9 and 5.5).
Dončić is successfully taking over from Goran Dragić as the best Slovenian basketball player as Dragić is entering the last year of his four-year contract with the Miami Heat.
Dragić has so far been the best Slovenian in the NBA, with the 33-year-old from Ljubljana being named an NBA All-Star for the first time in 2018, after making the All-NBA Third Team in 2014 as a member of the Phoenix Suns.
Dončić, who is yet to become an All-Star, was close this year, coming second only to LeBron James in the fan voting portion of the selection process. He was not as favoured by the league's players and the media panel though.
STA, 23 June 2019 - Italian Diego Ulissi of UAE Emirates team won the 26th Tour of Slovenia on Sunday. He defended the green jersey despite not having won the final, 170-kilometre stage of the tour, which went to his compatriot Giacomo Nizzolo (Dimension Data).
Slovenian Luka Mezgec (Mitchelton-Scott) was second to cross the finish line in Novo Mesto and Shane Archbold (Bora-Hansgrohe) of New Zealand was third.
Ulissi claimed the green jersey on Friday and had no problems defending it yesterday, when he finished second, nor today. This is his second victory of Tour of Slovenia, having bagged the first title in 2011.
Ulissi said he was very happy to win Tour of Slovenia because he only came here to train after having won the Gran Premio di Lugano a week earlier. "But then, suddenly, there was an opportunity to win the race and I took it."
"The final stage was very hard. rain at the beginning and then the attack by Gazprom, it was really hard for me. I think we risked too much on the final descend, but luckily, it all worked out," said Ulissi.
Second place overall went to Italian Giovanni Visconti (Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM), third to Russian Aleksandr Vlasov (Gazprom-RusVelo) and fourth to Slovenian Tadej Pogačar (UAE Emirates), who won the white jersey conferred to the best young rider of the race.
Stage 5 results
1 Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita/Dimension Data) 4:01:55
2 Luka Mezgec (Slo/Michelton-Scott)
3 Shane Archbold (Nzl/Bora-Hansgrohe)
4 Andrea Vendrame (Ita/Androni)
5 Davide Cimolai (Ita/Israel Cycling Academy)
6 Vincenzo Albanese (Ita/Bardiani)
7 Umberto Marengo (Ita/Neri Sottoli)
8 Tadej Pogačar (Slo/Team Emirates)
9 Simone Velasco (Ita/ Neri Sottoli)
10 Giovanni Visconti (Ita/Neri Sottoli) all same time
22 Domen Novak (Slo/Bahrain-Merida) + 0:12
23 Jan Polanc (Slo/Team Emirates) 0:19
29 Matej Drinovec (Slo/Slovenia) 2:23
32 Grega Bole (Slo/Bahrain-Merida) same time
1 Diego Ulissi (Ita/UAE Emirates) 15:39:28
2 Giovanni Visconti (Ita/Neri Sottoli) + 0:22
3 Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus/Gazprom) 0:25
4 Tadej Pogačar (Ita/UAE Emirates) 0:30
5 Andrea Vendrame (Ita/Androni) 1:04
6 Esteban Chaves (Col/Mitchelton-Scott) 1:08
7 Fausto Masnada (Ita/Androni) 1:21
8 Ben Hermans (Bel/Israel Cycling Academy) 2:21
9 Jan Polanc (Slo/UAE Emirates) 3:17
10 Lorenzo Rota (Ita/Bardiani) 4:49
13 Grega Bole (Slo/Bahrain-Merida) 8:03
24 Domen Novak (Slo/Bahrain-Merida) 16:36
28 Kristjan Hočevar (Slo/Team Slovenia) 19:31
29 Luka Mezgec (Slo/Mitchelton-Scott) 20:44
STA, 22 June 2019 - Race leader Diego Ulissi of Italy (UAE Emirates) defended the green jersey at the Tour of Slovenia on Saturday and is on track to being declared the overall winner as the race wraps up on Sunday.
Another Italian, Giovanni Visconti (Neri Sottoli) won Saturday's hilly 154-kilometre stage from Nova Gorica to Ajdovščina in the final spring.
But Ulissi finished in the leading group together with his Slovenian teammate Tadej Pogačar and Russian rider Alexandr Vlasov (Gazprom-Rusvelo).
The race concludes on Sunday with a mostly flat 167-kilometre stage from Trebnje to Novo Mesto that is unlikely to provide much opportunity for changes at the top.
* Results of the 4th stage:
1. G. VISCONTI ITA 4:00:53
2. D. ULISSI ITA same
3. T. POGAČAR SLO time
4. A. VLASOV RUS
5. A. VENDRAME ITA +0:32
6. E. CHAVES COL same time
7. F. MASNADA ITA 0:33
8. B. HERMANS BEL 1:38
9. C. MEYER AUT 2:22
10. L. ROTA ITA 2:22
* Overall results after the 4th stage:
1. D. ULISSI ITA 15:39:28
2. G. VISCONTI ITA +0:22
3. A. VLASOV RUS 0:25
4. T. POGAČAR SLO 0:30
5. A. VENDRAME ITA 1:04
6. E. CHAVES COL 1:08
7. F. MASNADA ITA 1:15
8. B. HERMANS BEL 2:13
9. J. POLANC SLO 2:58
10. R. ROGINA CRO 4:49
STA, 21 June 2019 - Italian Diego Ulissi (UAE Emirates) won the third stage of Tour of Slovenia on Friday, also taking the overall lead two stages before the end of the race. Ullissi crossed the finish line 12 seconds before Russian Aleksandr Vlasov (Gazprom).
Italian rider Giovanni Visconti (Neri Sottoli - Selle Italia) was the third to cross the finish line of the 170-kilometre stage from Žalec to Idrija, while Tadej Pogačar (UAE Emirates) was the best Slovenian, taking fifth place today and sixth overall.
Ulissi escaped Vlasov two kilometres before the finish after the pair had broken away from the main group in the last climb of the stage. On the descend, they gained a 20-second advantage over the main group.
Stage 3 results
1 Diego Ulissi (Ita/UAE Emirates) 3:58:01
2 Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus/Gazprom-Rusvelo) + 0:12
3 Giovanni Visconti (Ita/Neri Sottoli) 0:17
4 Andrea Vendrame (Ita/Androni)
5 Tadej Pogačar (Slo/UAE Emirates)
6 Jan Polanc (Slo/UAE Emirates)
7 Esteban Chaves (Col/Michelton-Scott)
8 Ben Hermans (Bel/Israel Cycling Academy) all same time
9 Fausto Masnada (Ita/Androni) 0:19
10 Luka Mezgec (Slo/Michelton-Scott) 2:08
11 Grega Bole (Slo/Bahrain Merida)
17 Žiga Ručigaj (Slo/Ljubljana Gusto Santic)
33 Kristjan Hočevar (Slo/Team Slovenia) all same time
1 Diego Ulissi (Ita/UAE Emirates) 11:38:41
2 Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus/Gazprom-Rusvelo) + 0:19
3 Andrea Vendrame (Ita/Androni) 0:26
4 Giovanni Visconti (Ita/Neri Sottoli) 0:26
5 Ben Hermans (Bel/Israel Cycling Academy) 0:30
6 Tadej Pogačar (Slo/UAE Emirates)
7 Jan Polanc (Slo/UAE Emirates)
8 Esteban Chaves (Col/Michelton-Scott) all same time
9 Fausto Masnada (Ita/Androni) 0:36
10 Luka Mezgec (Slo/Michelton-Scott) 2:11
11 Grega Bole (Slo/Bahrain-Merida) 2:15
STA, 20 June 2019 - Slovenian Luka Mezgec of Mitchelton-Scott won the second stage of Tour of Slovenia on Thursday. Fans at the finish line in Celje were delighted to see that the second place also went to a Slovenian, Grega Bole of Bahrain Merida. Italian Andreo Vendrame of Androni Giocattoli - Sidermec came in third.
Mezgec emerged as the best rider in a long sprint today, taking the overall lead from German Pascal Ackermann, who won the first stage yesterday. Bole is second overall, 4 seconds behind Mezgec.
"It really was an interesting stage with a very demanding finish. The climb to Celjska Koča is hard. I knew I needed to perform the best I can," Mezgec said after the race.
It seemed that the 146-kilometre stage will be decided by a group of leaders but the pursuing group, including Mezgec, Bole and Slovenia's Tadej Pogačer and Jan Polanc (both UAE Emirates), caught up with them only a couple hundred metres before the finish line.
Pogačar crossed the finish line as ninth and Polanc was twelfth.
Tomorrow, the cyclists are in for a 170 kilometre stage between Žalec and Idrija, which will expectedly produce the likely names battling for the overall win. The last stage will take place on Sunday.
Mezgec's victory today was the 52nd time that a Slovenian has won a stage of Tour of Slovenia, which was first staged in 1993.
Meanwhile, last year's Tour of Slovenia winner Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma), who was third in Giro d'Italia this year, announced on Twitter last night that his partner Lora Klinc had given birth, posting a picture of him holding the newborn.
STA, 19 June 2019 - German Pascal Ackermann of the German team Bora-Hansgrohe is the winner of the first stage of the 26th Tour of Slovenia cycling race between Ljubljana and Rogaška Slatina on Wednesday. The stage saw a massive sprint at the end, with the German winning the 171 km stage with a time of 4 hours, 4 minutes and 58 seconds.
Germany's national champion was followed by two Italian cyclists - Giacomo Nizzolo, a member of Team Dimension Data, who finished second and Simone Consonni, who currently rides for UAE Team Emirates, in the third place.
Ackermann also won the second and fifth stages of the 2019 Giro d'Italia, becoming the first German rider to win the points classification and the best sprinter of this year's Italian race.
Luka Mezgec of Mitchelton-Scott in fourth place was the best among Slovenian cyclists participating in this year's Tour of Slovenia. He initiated the finishing sprint but then lagged behind the victorious trio.
Ackerman, who won the tenth stage win for Germany in Slovenia's prime road cycling race, said that "the start was quite easy, while the things got serious some 60 kilometres before the finish. I'm happy that I made it. Thanks to the team."
The 25-year-old admitted that it was the most difficult sprint finish in his life, as he needed to start sprinting 500 metres ahead of the finish line. "I had to start early. It was not easy."
Almost 130 cyclists started the 808.5-km, five-day race in Ljubljana at noon today.
This year's Tour of Slovenia does not feature Slovenia's best cyclist Primož Roglič, as the race's two-time winner, including last year, is taking a break after recently finishing third overall in the Giro D'Italia.
The race, which is broadcast live by Eurosport and the Slovenian public broadcaster TV Slovenija, will continue tomorrow in Maribor and end on 23 June in Novo Mesto.
The route provides opportunities for sprinters in the opening and final stages, while the remaining stages, in particular no. 3 and 4, will require some serious climbing power.
* Results of 1st stage of Tour of Slovenia:
1 Pascal Ackermann (GER/Bora-Hansgrohe) 4:04:58
2 Giacomo Nizzolo (ITA/Dimension Data)
3 Simone Consonni (ITA/Team Emirates)
4 Luka Mezgec (SLO/Michelton-Scott)
5 Andrea Vendrame (ITA/Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec)
6 Rui Oliveira (POR/UAE Emirates)
7 Grega Bole (SLO/Bahrain-Merida)
8 Jeremy Leveau (FRA/Delko Marseille)
9 Kristian Sbaragli (ITA/Israel Cycling Academy)
10 Umberto Marengo (ITA/Neri Sottoli)
11 Marko Kump (SLO/Adria Mobil)
13 Andi Bajc (SLO/Felbermayr)
17 Tadej Pogačar (SLO/UAE Emirates)
20 Jan Polanc (SLO/UAE Emirates) same time
- Overall standings:
1 Pascal Ackermann (GER/Bora-Hansgrohe) 4:04:58
2 Giacomo Nizzolo (ITA/Dimension Data) + 0:04
3 Simone Consonni (ITA/Team Emirates) 0:06
4 Diego Ulissi (ITA/UAE Emirates) 0:07
5 Aljaž Jarc (SLO/Adria Mobil)
6 Matteo Busato (ITA/Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec) 0:08
7 Matthias Krizek (AUT/Felbrmayer) 0:09
8 Luka Mezgec (SLO/Mitchelton-Scott) 0:10
9 Andrea Vendrame (ITA/Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec)
10 Rui Oliveira (POR/UAE Emirates)
11 Grega Bole (SLO/Bahrain-Merida)
15 Marko Kump (SLO/Adria Mobil)
17 Andi Bajc (SLO/Felbermayr)
21 Tadej Pogačar (SLO/UAE Emirates)
24 Jan Polanc (SLO/UAE Emirates) same time
STA, 18 June 2019 - Ljubljana, the runner up of the last Slovenian football premier league season, is reportedly in the process of being sold to an Italian businessman. According to sports paper Ekipa SN, Olimpija's chairman Milan Mandarić is looking to sell the club for at least EUR 6 million.
Mandarić, an Serbian-American tycoon who also owned England's Portsmouth, Leicester City and Sheffield Wednesday in the past, bought the Ljubljana club from banana wholesaler Izet Rastoder in 2015, reportedly for EUR 4 million.
According to Tuesday's report on Ekipa SN's website, the potential new owner is Italian businessman Gabriele Nardin, who was already involved in Slovenian football at lower levels through Jadran Dekani, a small village club that currently plays in the second Slovenian league.
Ekipa says Nardin has until 10 July to pay the first instalment in the amount of EUR 3 million.
Mandarić would reportedly also be entitled to the revenue from the sale of players, while part of the deal is allegedly also connected to a potential transfer of Slovenia's star goalkeeper Jan Oblak form Madrid's Atletico.
If Oblak left Madrid, Olimpija would also be entitled to part of the buyout sum as compensation for having raised the player, the paper reported.
While Olimpija has seen a seemingly never ending streak of headcoach replacements under Mandarić, the club also ended a 20-year national championship drought in 2015/2016. Olimpija won the national title again 2017/18, also becoming the Cup winner that year and again this year.