STA, 17 April 2019 - Slovenia's best goalkeeper and national team mainstay Jan Oblak has agreed on a contract extension with his Atletico Madrid until 2023, the Spanish powerhouse announced on Wednesday. The extension makes him one of the highest paid goalkeepers in the world.
The four-year extension puts an end to lengthy negotiations between the Slovenian and the club for which he has played since July 2014.
The 26-year-old from Škofja Loka is to receive around 10 million euro a year under the new contract, which makes him one of the highest paid goalkeepers in the world.
According to Transfermarkt, Oblak is the most valuable goalkeeper in the world, with an estimated market value of 80 million euro.
The new contract for Oblak, who has played 203 games for Atletico Madrid and managed to keep his net intact for a whopping 115 games, is expected to put his buyout value at 120 million euor.
His goalkeeping statistics brought him the latest three annual titles of the best goalkeeper in the Spanish premier division.
"I'm very happy to extend my cooperation with Atletico, that I'm here. I will continue to defend the club's colours as best as I can and I will continue to play hard," he told the club's website.
With the Madrid club, Oblak won the Spanish Super Cup (2014), the UEFA Europa League (2018) and the UEFA Super Cup (2018).
He also made it to the best team of the UEFA Champions League in the 2015/16 and 2016/17 seasons, and was also declared the Slovenian football player of the year in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.
Oblak, who has 20 caps for the national team, has recently announced his return to the team after an absence of more than a year.
STA, 15 April 2019 - The Slovenian Basketball Association's (KZS) bid for Slovenia to host one of the preliminary groups of the EuroBasket 2021 has been endorsed by the government.
Hosting one of the preliminary groups would cost 4.5 million euro, of which 1.8 million euro in a fee and another 700,000 euro in other fixed costs.
Slovenia would have to pay the fee and the other fixed costs of 2.5 million euro to FIBA Europe in advance. Today's green light means the money will come from the government.
"We asked the state for a donation or a kind of a loan since the Basketball Association could not afford to pay the 2.5 million to FIBA Europe in advance, this is practically its entire annual budget," explained KZS president Matej Erjavec.
But judging by the EuroBasket 2013, which was held in Slovenia, the investment pays off at the end of the competition through ticket sales and sponsors, he added.
The funds will be allocated to the KZS as part of the 2021 annual sport plan on the basis of the rules governing co-funding sport events at national level.
Apart from Slovenia, also vying for the tournament are the Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Germany, Hungary and Italy.
Erjavec has recently said that seven bids arrived at FIBA Europe, among them only one for the final part of the tournament, which means Slovenia has a 50% chance to win one of the preliminary groups.
He has also explained there were two reasons why the KZS would like to host one of the EuroBasket 2021 groups.
As a host, Slovenia would qualify for the championships directly, without having to play in qualifications. This means the relatively young national team would have a chance to mature in the coming two years without being under pressure to deliver results.
The other reason is a wish to have NBA star Luka Dončić play in front of a home crowd. "We're aware that NBA players could not take part in the qualifications as they were designed for the world championships," said Erjavec.
If it is selected one of the hosts, Slovenia will organise such a prominent basketball event for the second time - after hosting the entire tournament in 2013.
It was another good IFSC Climbing Worldcup weekend for Slovene climbers in Moscow, with Janja Garnbret coming in first place in the bouldering event, followed by the UK’s Shauna Coxsey and France’s Fanny Gilbert. In 4th place for the women was another Slovene, Lučka Rakovec.
With regard to the men, Jernej Kruder took the gold, followed by the Czech Adam Ondr and Japan’s Yoshiyuki Ogata, with another Slovene in 4th place, Anže Peharc.
These performances secured first place for Slovenia in the team rankings, with 331 points, followed by Japan (210), and France (151).
All our stories on climbing – both sport and alpine – are here.
Climbing, both sport and alpine, is one of those activities in which the little nation of Slovenia has an outsized presence, and this weekend saw the opening event of the season with regard to the former – the first bouldering competition of the IFSC 2019 Climbing Worldcup, held in Meiringen, Switzerland.
Taking first place for the women was Janja Garnbret, the Slovene teen said to be “the best climber in the world”, and an athlete whose progress it’s been a joy to follow over the last few years, as the sport gears up for it’s first appearance in the Olympics (Tokyo 2020). Garnbret took gold, followed by Akiyo Noguchi (Japan) and the UK’s Shauna Coxsey.
With regard to the men’s event, this was won by Japan’s Kokoro Fuji, followed by Jongwon Chon (Korea) and Tomoaki Takata (Japan). The highest ranked Slovene was Jernej Kruder, in 11th place.
Karate: Tjaša Ristić Takes Silver at Euro Championships (Video)
STA, 30 March 2019 - Slovenia's Tjaša Ristić won the silver medal at the European Karate Championships in Spain's Gualadajara in the women's 61kg category, losing in Saturday's final to Merve Coban of Turkey 0:4. This is the best achievement for Slovenia in women's karate in history.
"I knew that it would be very difficult, as have never beaten the Turk, but I did not surrender in advance. Regardless of the defeat, I'm very happy," the 25-year-old from Kranj told the STA.
Ristić made it to the final with an excellent streak in which she beat Diana Petrescu of Israel (5:0), Bettina Alstadsaether of Norway (1:0) and Lynn Snel of Netherlands (3:2).
In the semi-finals, she demolished with 9:1 Ingrida Suchanikova of Slovakia, who eventually won the bronze medal.
The next stops for Ristić will be world series events in Morocco and Turkey in which she will be looking to score some more points in a bid to qualify for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
STA, 28 March 2019 - A large number of Slovenian fans have flown to Miami to experience Thursday's long-awaited game between the Dallas Mavericks and the Miami Heat featuring a face-off between the country's most popular basketball players and former national team members, Luka Dončić and Goran Dragić.
Miami has welcomed reportedly more than 2,000 Slovenian basketball enthusiasts, forming the largest national "exodus" to the US for a sports event.
All of them have high expectations for the match with the majority rooting for Dragić's home team to win and Dončić to deliver another excellent performance.
The Miami Heat are still in play for the play-offs and will be going for a win tonight, while the Mavericks are in for playing a "spoiler" with their team being second to last in the Western Conference and therefore having zero chance to qualify.
The game will mark the first time the two players will meet after playing together for the national team and winning the EuroBasket in September 2017. Dragić was still recovering from a knee injury during the previous match between the two teams.
The Mavericks' star Dončić is very likely to win the 2018-19 NBA Rookie of the Year award, especially if he dominates the next few matches in his usual style. Both him and Dragić are double-digit scorers who have been keeping fans entertained with attractive moves and the rivalry between them suggests a great game ahead.
"We've arrived on the wings of euphoria. What Dončić's doing is crazy, and Dragić is obviously old-school. We've come to cheer and let the best man win," said one of the Slovenian fans.
They all want Dragić's team to clinch a play-off spot and Dončić to score another triple-double, but most importantly they will cheer for Slovenia as the country is displaying its talent in the world's strongest basketball league.
Fulfilling the goal of winning the EuroBasket, the 32-year-old Dragić has retired from playing for the national team but remains one of the nation's favourite, while the 20-year-old Dončić has already made a name for himself across in the US.
The fans have been hanging out at Rakija Lounge bar in South Beach, enjoying familiar beverages and food from the Balkans. The bar's owners, migrants from Bosnia-Herzegovina and North Macedonia, are hosting a Slovenian night before the game, presenting the country's wines and food.
The large number of Slovenian supporters has also attracted the attention of the American media. The ESPN channel will prepare a special clip about them near the American Airlines Arena before the game.
The event will therefore serve as an opportunity for a specific cultural exchange as well as celebration of the two Slovenian stars.
STA, 24 March 2019 - Overall World Cup winner Ryoyu Kobayashi of Japan won the final event of the World Cup season in Planica on Sunday after equalising the hill record in the first series. Domen Prevc of Slovenia finished second ahead of Friday's winner, the German Markus Eisenbichler.
Kobayashi managed to equalise the giant hill record of 252 metres in the first series, just a metre and a half below the world record, and cemented his 13th season win with 230.5 metres to beat Prevc, who flew 239.5 and 222.4 metres, by almost 25 points.
Eisenbichler in third was just a point and a half shy of Prevc with jumps of 227 and 235 metres.
"I feel wonderful, the emotions are out in full force," Prevc said about his performance in front of the home crowd. "I knew I'd be on the podium, but I did not know I'd take the lead," he said.
Slovenia had two more top-ten finishes, as Timi Zajc grabbed fifth place and Anže Semenič was ninth with a personal best of 241 metres.
All our stories on Planica, past and present, are here
* Results: 1. Ryoyu Kobayashi (Jap) 464,9 points (252,0/230,5 metres) 2. Domen Prevc (Slo) 444,0 (239,5/222,5) 3. Markus Eisenbichler (Ger) 442,5 (227,0/235,0) 4. Piotr Žyla (Pol) 438,6 (248,0/222,0) 5. Timi Zajc (Slo) 425,4 (231,5/229,5) 6. Dawid Kubacki (Pol) 424,8 (229,5/234,0) 7. Karl Geiger (Nem) 422,8 (238,5/228,0) 8. Johann Andre Forfang (Nor) 416,2 (225,0/223,5) 9. Anže Semenič (Slo) 413,8 (241,0/224,0) 10. Jevgenij Klimov (Rus) 411,7 (233,0/221,5) ... 19. Peter Prevc (Slo) 381,0 (221,5/204,5) 29. Anže Lanišek (SLO) 317,8 (195,5/201,5) ... - Final World Cup standings: 1. Ryoyu Kobayashi (Jap) 2085 2. Stefan Kraft (Aut) 1349 3. Kamil Stoch (Pol) 1288 4. Piotr Žyla (Pol) 1131 5. Dawid Kubacki (Pol) 988 6. Robert Johansson (Nor) 974 7. Markus Eisenbichler (Nem) 937 8. Johann Andre Forfang (Nor) 892 9. Timi Zajc (Slo) 833 10. Karl Geiger (Nem) 765 ... 13. Domen Prevc (Slo) 542 28. Anže Semenič (Slo) 203 29. Peter Prevc (Slo) 179 30. Anže Lanišek (Slo) 177
STA, 23 March 2019 - Robert Kranjec, one of the best Slovenian ski jumpers of all time, bid an emotional farewell to his fans after a career spanning 21 years with one final flight down the Planica ski-flying hill on Saturday.
Appearing in 325 Ski Jumping World Cup events, Kranjec tallied 15 victories and a total of 27 podium finishes, team events included, since his debut in Trondheim in 1998.
He was part of the team that won bronze at the Salt Lake City Olympic Games in 2002 and ten years later became the world champion in ski flying, his flagship discipline, with a jump of 244 metres.
Indeed, it was his exceptionally good feeling for flying which earned him the moniker the Flying Carniolan (Leteči Kranjec), something that he demonstrated once again today.
Having become the first jumper to cross the 200-metre mark 200 times at Planica last year, Kranjec improved this special record today, landing at 213.5 metres, in his 212nd over the 200-metre flight.
In his final feat he was cheered on by a crowd of 21,200 gathered in the Alpine valley offered referred to as the "cradle" of the sport.
Among those who came to pay him tribute was Primož Roglič, his former team mate who went on to become Slovenia's cycling sensation. He presented Kranjec with a yellow jersey.
Kranjec, reaching the outrun of the ski-flying hill after the first series of today's team event, which saw Slovenia finish third, sent items of his gear flying among the fans as keepsakes before being overwhelmed by a wave of hugs and cheers.
"Thanks to the fans! Thank you for cheering me on for every flight and thank you for supporting the team," the 37-year-old said in an emotional goodbye.
His first individual World Cup victory in Kuusamo in 2005 was his sole individual win in ski jumping, the remaining six being achieved on the ski-flying hills of Planica, Vikersund and Kulm.
Apart from winning the 2012 ski-flying championship, he won two more team world championship medals, the team ski-jumping bronze in Oslo in 2011 and bronze in the ski-flying team event in Vikersund a year later.
This was his last medal in such a major competition. What followed was a difficult period in which he struggled with injury.
First he had difficulties with his elbow, but he still finished top of the podium two times in the 2015/16 season. When he appeared to be coming back to the top, he suffered a bad knee injury just before the next season, followed by surgery and a lengthy recovery.
After struggling through last year's season, he considering retiring, but decided to give it one more try. It was his back that gave him problems this time, so he decided to call it quits.
"I've decided this will be my last journey to Planica, because I will end by career in Planica," Kranjec said ahead of today's event saying that he made the decision in January.
Poland won the team ski flying event at the World Cup meet in Planica, ahead of Germany and Slovenia, to the thrill of thousands of fans who gathered at the foot of the giant hill in lovely weather on Saturday.
With fine long jumps Jakub Wolny, Kamil Stoch, Dawid Kubacki and Piotr Žyla secured an unassailable lead already in the first series.
They scored a total of 1627.9 points, 8.1 points more than Germany and 24.8 points more than Slovenia's Anže Semenič, Peter Prevc, Domen Prevc and Timi Zajc in third.
All our stories on Planica, past and present, are here
There was a bit of tension in the final series when Žyla touched the ground with his hands on landing, but Poland's score lead was just too strong to make any surprises possible.
This was the third World Cup team victory for Poland this season after those in Wisla on 17 November and Willingen on 15 February.
The battle for the second spot was much more tight with Slovenia finishing second after the first series. However, after an excellent jump by Karl Geiger, who landed at 230 metres, Germany edged ahead.
In the first series, Semenič landed at 228.5 metres, followed by Peter Prevc, who made it to 212 metres, his brother Domen flew 229.5 metres far and Zajc landed at 224.5 metres.
In the final series Semenič only made it as far as the 218-metre mark, Peter Prevc upped it to 223 m and then Domen Prevc landed as far as 239 m, followed by Zajc's flight of 235.5 metres.
"Peter Prevc was still a bit unsteady in the first series, but the second jump was good again. Anže Semenič was excellent in the first series, but made a bit of a blunder in the second. The youngest two were flawless," Slovenia head coach Gorazd Bertoncelj commented.
After the end of the first series, Robert Kranjc, one of the best Slovenian jumpers of all time, officially ended his career with one last jump, cheered on by the 21,200-strong crowd.
The three-day Ski Jumping World Cup finale in Planica will close on Sunday with an individual event for the top 30 ranking in the overall World Cup standings.
* Results, team event: 1 Poland 1627.9 points (Jakub Wolny 237.5/228.5 m, Kamil Stoch 227/221, Dawid Kubacki 229.5/230, Piotr Žyla 226.5/242.5) 2 Germany 1619.8 (Karl Geiger 230.5/230, Constantin Schmid 217/216.5, Richard Freitag 221/231, Markus Eisenbichler 227/246) 3 Slovenia 1603.1 (Anže Semenič 228.5/218, Peter Prevc 212/223, Domen Prevc 229.5/239, Timi Zajc 224.5/235.5) 4 Japan 1520.8 (Yukiya Sato 211/221, Noriaki Kasai 213/210, Junshiro Kobayashi 218/225, Ryoyu Kobayashi 240/237) 5 Austria 1520.8 (Michael Hayböck 218/225, Philipp Aschenwald 215.5/213, Daniel Huber 222.5/226, Stefan Kraft 208/221) 6 Norway 1502,6 7 Switzerland 1312,1 8 Finland 1177,6 ... - without a final: 9 Czech Republic 570.2 10 Russia 430.8
March 22, 2019
Breaking records is an important part of ski flying competitions, and breaking the world record has presented a particular challenge not only to the athletes, but to the hill engineers and event organisers as well.
There are five large ski flying hills that have played a major role in the sports’ development since the 1950s.
Kulm hill in Austria, built in 1950, further upgraded in 1953, 1986 and 2015, was a site of world record flights in 1962 (141 metres), 1965 (145 metres; both jumped by Peter Lesser) and 1986 (191 metres by Andreas Felder). The current record of the hill stands at 244 metres by Peter Prevc, set in 2016.
Heini Klopfer hill in Oberstdorf, Germany, named after the hill’s architect, Heini Klopfer, was also built in 1950 and then upgraded in 1972, 1997 and 2017. After its first upgrade the hill was the chief rival to the Gorišek Brothers’ hill in Planica, and the hill record race that ensued between the two in the 1970s also sparked the first serious safety concerns and calls for tighter regulation and control by the International Ski Federation. Heini Klopfer hill in Oberstdorf was a site of a series of world record flights from 1950s to 1967 and then from 1973 into the mid-1980s. No new world records were broken in Oberstdorf after Planica took over as the site of world record jumps in 1987 and Vikersund took over from Planica in 2011. The current hill record in Oberstdorf was set at 238.5 metres by Daniel-André Tande in 2018.
Gorišek Brothers hill in Planica, Slovenia, named after the hill architects Janez (1933 -) and Lado (1925 – 1997) Gorišek. Today Janez is considered as the World’s no. 1 expert in ski flying engineering and the main man behind the renovation of the currently world record dominating hill in Vikersund. The flying hill in Planica was inaugurated in 1969 with a series of world record flights. It was upgraded in 1979, 1985, 1994, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2010 and 2013/15. Starting with Piotr Fias’ 194-metre world record in 1987, Planica completely dominated as the location for world record jumps site for 24 years until the most recent renovation of the Vikersund hill in 2011. The last world record on this hill was set by Bjørn Einar Romøren, at 239 metres, in 2005, and the current hill record was marked at 252 metres by Ryoyu Kobayashi in 2019.
Vikersundbakken or Vikersund hill in Norway, the current world record holder, was already built in 1936 but has only been categorised as a ski flying hill since its 1966 upgrade. Like the rest of the ski flying hills, Vikersund has undergone several renovations since, notably the most recent one, that involved a complete rebuild of the in-run and was overseen by Planica’s main architect, Janez Gorišek. This renovation meant the end of Planica leadership in world record jumps and installed Vikersund as the place where the last six records were set, with what today remains the longest jump ever made on skis, at 253.5 metres by Stefan Kraft in 2017.
Četrt’ák hill in Harachov, Czech Republic, joined the race in 1980 and earned an early reputation of being dangerous to jump from, mostly due to strong cross winds that are present at the site. Two world records were obtained there, one in 1980 (Armin Kogler, 176 metres) and the second one in 1983 (Pavel Ploc, 181 metres). The hill underwent some renovations in the years between 1989 to 1992, nevertheless another rather famous fall occurred in 1992, with Andreas Goldberg crashing onto the slope from the highest flying point of his jump. With changes in equipment and flying technique, however, ski flying presents less danger to jumpers even in Harrachow, where the current hill record was set at 214.5 metres by Matti Hautämaki in 2002 and repeated again by Thomas Morgenstern in 2008. In 2011 Jurij Tepeš crash-landed at 220 metres, although if you are not standing on your feet at landing then this does not count as a successful jump, and therefore cannot count as a world record either.
Although ski flying safety has improved significantly in the last few decades, the question of “how far is still safe?” remains, which is quite evident from the video above, due to the levelling off of the slope towards the bottom of the hill.
The big debate about safety emerged in the 1970s amid the rivalry between Planica and Oberstdorf. In 1974 the debate also reached its peak artistically with a Werner Herzog documentary about Walter Steiner’s safety concerns at the 1974 flights in Planica.
The film depicts Walter Steiner at the top of his career in a season in which he was beating his entire competition in double digits by length of his jumps. The world record holder at the time was Heinz Wossipiwo, with 169 metres jumped in Oberstdorf in 1973, when Steiner crash-landed twice, at 175 and 179 metres. Steiner’s concerns in the movie mostly revolve around the organisers’ lack of safety considerations in Planica that year, as they appeared to be more concerned with the possibility of a record than basic safety of the jumpers. “I feel I’m in the arena with 50,000 people waiting to see me crash”, Herzog reports him saying in the film.
At about 20:52 in the film above, just after Steiner’s crash landing at 177 metres, a jumper with a starting number 1 appears in the background, warming up for his second jump. The jumper’s name is Janez Loštrek, father of the author of this article, so we seized the opportunity and asked him to comment on his colleague’s struggles from that year.
He told us that although the push for a record existed at all hills at the time, the problem Steiner was facing in 1974 in Planica was a new one. Whether or not his struggles in Planica could be related to his two record crash-landings in Oberstdorf in the previous season, Loštrek doesn’t know because his first ski flying season was only in 1974 in Planica.
Regulations and the composition of the match organising committees also gradually changed in favour of better safety controls, along with advances in technology with regard to monitoring and scoring of the jumps. The issue of adjusting the in-run length to the capabilities of an individual jumper is not a problem anymore, as it can be shortened today on request by a coach with an appropriate score adjustment of such a jump, but in the 1970s this wasn’t yet possible.
In the 1974/5 season, the International Ski Federation (FIS) tried to address the issue of jumpers in top form by introducing a separation of the first 15 from the practice day, sending them to a lower in-run point on the day of the competition without the possibility of the rest of the competitors who were jumping from a higher point to take any of the first 15 places, in effect creating two separate competitions. The system didn’t last long, as practice jumps don’t necessarily tell much about someone’s ability on the actual competition day. Note that the only practice time for jumpers at the flying hills is usually on the first day of the ski flying event, because the flying hills are only prepared for jumping for the time of competition.
Safety in ski flying was further improved with the introduction of the FIS Ski Jumping World Cup in the 1979/80 season, bringing in more external regulation and control, further limiting the possibility of the events depicted in the movie above. Also, the equipment changed, with helmets and high boots, while the skis became lighter and a mechanism was developed that kept them from flipping over in bad weather. The whole system was improved, but with new solutions come new problems. Since the introduction of V-style jumping in the 1990s, the weight of a jumper plays an important role, something that has already been addressed by regulations on ski length to avoid harsh dieting by more heavily built jumpers. This rule is currently under debate to be even tighter, as weight control seems to still be too great of a factor for some of the jumpers, who could instead be focusing on the athletic aspect of the sport.
Meanwhile, Janez Gorišek (1933 -) and his youngest son Sebastjan, Janez’s main partner in latest designs of the world’s two largest hills, Planica and Vikersund, are already looking ahead, for solutions for a 300-metre flight. “The development of ski jumping never stops, so the engineers cannot stop either. This is also my view on the current duel between the hills in Vikersund and Planica. The profiles of the both were designed by Sebastjan and I. We also advised the Austrians in Kulm. However, the Norwegians are most in favour of our views. Apparently we also need each other most. We are both inclined to new goals and together we are the strongest,” said Janez Gorišek in a recent interview for Delo.