STA, 22 January 2020 - The Slovenian men's handball team made it among the top four teams at the European championships after finishing second in the main round Group II play in Sweden's Malmö. Slovenia will play reigning European champions Spain in the semi-finals on Friday.
It is only the second time in the nation's history the handball team made it to the medal round at European handball championships, following Slovenia's silver medal at home in 2004.
Slovenia entered the main round as an undefeated team in the preliminary group F in Gothenburg, racking up three consecutive wins against Poland, Sweden and Switzerland.
The Slovenians followed up the winning streak with a 30:27 victory over Iceland last Friday, and then suffered their first loss at the tournament on Sunday at the hands of Hungary (28:29).
On Tuesday, Slovenia defeated Portugal 29:24 to secure their first goal at the tournament - a berth in one of the three qualifying tournaments for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Today, Slovenia lost 30:33 to the still undefeated Norway, but had already made it to the semi-finals prior to the match as the main rival for the top two spots, Hungary, lost to Portugal 26:34 earlier today.
Slovenian head coach Ljubomir Vranješ told reporters that "it is a great day for us" and that "this is my best defeat ever", referring to Slovenia having already qualified for the semi-finals before the match.
He said that the tactics for Norway had not been used at all, as the players "put it in the pocket for later", adding that he was saving the energy of his players a little bit for Friday's encounter against Spain.
In the semi-finals, it will be important to be both physically and mentally ready, and "we are going there well prepared and fully focused," Vranješ concluded.
Regardless of the outcome of the medal round in Stockholm, Slovenia will play at one of the three Olympic qualifying tournaments, hosted by France, Germany and Norway between 17 and 19 April.
Only the winner of the ongoing European championships will get the direct ticket for Tokyo from Europe, in addition to the reigning world champions Denmark.
STA, 19 January 2020 - Slovenia's ski jumper Timi Zajc placed third in Sunday's World Cup event in Titisee-Neustadt, Germany, in what is his best result this winter season.
Pole Dawid Kubacki was victorious for the second straight day, scoring 283.3 points, 0.3 points ahead of Japanese Ryoyu Kobayashi, who came in third at the same venue yesterday. Zajc mustered 271.6 points.
Kubacki and Kobayashi were a class apart in the first series, securing an advantage of more than 10 points ahead of the rest, while the battle for the third spot was wide open.
Going into the finals, Slovenia had two contenders for the remaining slot on the podium, Domen Prevc, who placed 5th in the first series, and Timi Zajc in 7th.
Zajc jumped 134 metres to take the lead, while losing minimum wind compensation points. Domen Prevc was very late into his jump, making it only as far as 113 metres.
Zajc's is only the fourth podium finish for Slovenia this season, after Anže Lanišek placed second in Poland's Wisla and third in Ruka, Finland, and Peter Prevc finished second in Engelberg, Switzerland.
Zajc was Slovenia's best jumper last season, finishing 9th overall.
STA, 18 January 2020 - Grega Lačen, one of Slovenia's top mountain climbers, was killed after falling from a great height while descending one of the peaks in the Kamnik-Savinja Alps in northern Slovenia on Friday afternoon. The police have ruled out any foul play.
The 43-year-old died falling down a high-steep rock face near the Mlinar Saddle despite being well-equipped and familiar with the area. A local rescue team has already recovered the body.
Lačen was part of Slovenia's many successful climbing expeditions, reported the newspaper Večer. He summited numerous peaks, including Mount Everest, having skied down the world's highest mountain.
He also led an expedition to the Karakoram mountain range, which spans the borders of Pakistan, India, China, Afghanistan and Tajikistan.
In the wake of several tragic climbing accidents in January, the police have urged climbers to exercise extra caution, particularly when descending steep snow slopes.
STA, 18 January 2020 - The Italians dominated the men's World Cup parallel giant slalom in Slovenia's ski resort Rogla on Saturday, whereas the Czech Republic took the top place in the women's race.
Italy's Edwin Corrati beat his countryman Roland Fischnaller to defend last year's win in Rogla. Ester Ledecka of the Czech Republic won the women's race, beating Germany's Ramona Theresia Hofmeister.
Third places went to Russian snowboarders in both categories, Natalija Soboleva and Vic Wild.
Slovenian snowboarders left empty-handed, with Tim Mastnak the only one to have made it into the final rounds.
Mastnak, who placed eighth in the qualifying stage, was beaten by Poland's Oskar Kwiatkowski in the round of 16.
Slovenia's best women's snowboarder was Gloria Kotnik, who ranked 31st in the qualifiers.
Saturday, 18 January 2020 the Jasa Ski Resort on Rogla is hosting FIS World Cup in Parallel Giant Snowboarding, with 160 competitors from 24 countries registered.
The event is free to enter, spectators should gather on the platform in front of the Zreče Thermal Spa - see the map at the bottom - and the programme follows after a video from last year's event
9.00-11.00: Match qualifications
11.00-11.30: DJ party
11.30-11.45: Laško drumming group
11.45-12.00: DJ party
12.00-12.30: Polkaholiki – see below
12.30-12.45: Laško drumming group
12.45-13.00: DJ party
13.00-14.20: Finals and then trophy presentation
15:00-24:00 After party at Baru Uniorček with music from Zvita Feltna
A few more details, in Slovene, are here
Pokljuka is the largest closed forest area in Triglav National Park and one of the best known Slovenian plateaus, mostly due to the biathlon World Cup competitions it has hosted for decades. For those that are unfamiliar with the sport, biathlon is cross country skiing combined with shooting.
The World Cup biathlon races begin next Thursday, 23 January 2020, and for anyone looking for a good excuse for a trip into nature the forecasts say the weather will be sunny, like it was for this race in 2015:
For further details on the schedule, please click here.
Tickets cost €20 for Thursday and Friday and €25 for Saturday and Sunday. For details on special offers, click here.
The organisers are asking visitors to leave their vehicles in Bled and continue their journey to Pokljuka with a shuttle bus service that’s free with a World Cup ticket. For further details on how to get there here please click here.
STA, 14 January 2020 - The Slovenian men's handball team made it to the main round of the European Championship featuring the best 12 teams at the tournament after winning all three matches in the preliminary round, including against the hosts Sweden.
Slovenia opened the tournament in Group F in Sweden's Gothenburg last Friday by beating Poland 26:23, and followed the win up with a tough 21:19 victory against the Swedes on Sunday.
The cherry on the top was today's win against Switzerland, with Slovenia easily cruising past the Swiss for a 29:25 win and a perfect 3:0 score at the tournament under the new head coach Ljubomir Vranješ.
Vranješ said that the liked that the players "showed character", including the younger and lesser used players, which showed that "we have breadth in the team" and was important mentally and when it came to the playing form.
In the main round, Slovenia will play in Group II in Malmö and start the four-game phase on Friday and finish it on 22 January. The top two teams from each of the main round groups will make it to the semi-finals in Stockholm.
"I always want to win, and the players do too, and of course we had thought we would advance," the coach said, adding that "we have done a fantastic job in Gothenburg and now we are going to Malmö."
At the tournament co-hosted by Austria and Norway, Slovenia are also looking to secure a berth at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo or a slot at one of the three Olympic qualifying tournaments.
Only the Euro winner will secure a berth at the 2020 Summer Olympics. If the winner is Denmark, who have already won a ticket for Tokyo by winning the latest world championship, the runner-up will also secure an Olympic berth.
Another path to Tokyo is via three qualifying tournaments, hosted by France, Germany and Norway between 17 and 19 April, with two teams to qualify from each.
Sweden, Croatia and Spain have secured the appearance at the tournaments, and another two slots are open for European teams. Slovenia could secure a slot depending on their result at the championship.
STA, 14 January 2020 - Slovenian tennis player Dalila Jakupović started the Australian Open qualifying tournament on Tuesday, but conceded after leading the match 6-4, 5-6 due to uncontrollable coughing and breathing difficulties, likely caused by smoke and air pollution from the continent's fires.
It is yet unclear whether her coughing fit was directly linked to fires wreaking havoc with the air quality, but many tennis players and coaches urged the organisers to postpone the matches.
After her retirement from the match with Switzerland's Stefanie Vögele, Jakupović told the press she was indeed having problems due to the polluted air.
"I think it's not fair to us, the players, besides, it's definitely not healthy," the 28-year-old said, adding she was shocked upon finding out the qualifying matches would go on today.
She highlighted that the organisers still had plenty of time until the tournament's start. "It was really bad. I've never experienced anything like it and I was quite scared. I was afraid of losing consciousness and falling down. That's why I dropped to my knees. I couldn't walk anymore," said Jakupović, who persisted playing for almost two hours.
Similar problems occurred during a match between Slovenian tennis player Blaž Kavčič and Brit Joy Clark. Kavčič won the match 7-6, 3-6, 6-2, but one of the ball kids fainted during the face-off.
Both players immediately stooped playing and came to the kid's help, report the Australian media, with the medical assistance being provided.
The first Grand Slam of the season takes place in Melbourne where air pollution has dropped to hazardous levels, the worst-rated in the world, with smoke from the fires lingering over the city. The authorities have warned the locals to take health precautions, stay at home and shut the doors and windows.
However, the organisers have assured the public they are constantly checking the improving levels and that umpires have the power to stop the matches to protect the participants' health.
"Not the best air quality this morning in #Melbourne," twitted today Patrick Mouratoglou, Serena Williams's coach, adding a photo of Melbourne blanketed in smoke haze.
STA, 11 January 2020 - Skier Žan Kranjec won the giant slalom FIS World Cup Alpine Skiing race in Adelboden, Switzerland, on Saturday. Four giant slaloms into the season, he has taken the lead in the giant slalom rankings. Croatian Filip Zubčić was second and French Victor Muffat-Jeandet took third place.
He was sixth after the first run and made it to the top following a mistake by Italian Luca di Aliprandini, who was in the lead after the first run.
This was Kranjec's first victory of the season, during which he has not placed lower than place four.
"This win means a lot to me," Kranjec said after the race. "I've always dreamt of winning a world cup race and then I finally made it last season," he said, referring to his first world cup victory.
"I've also dreamt of winning in Adelboden, for me one of the most demanding pistes, and now I've achieved this as well," Kranjec said.
"Right now I'm probably in the best shape of my career. The race today was hard but I know that anything is possible in the second run."
It seems however that Kranjec's victory was a surprise for the organising team, as they did not have a Slovenian flag ready for the award ceremony and had to borrow it from one of the spectators.
STA, 11 January 2020 - Cross-country skier Anamarija Lampič took second place in the sprint event of FIS Cross-Country event in Dresden, Germany, on Saturday. She has thus taken the lead in the cross country sprint rankings.
After clocking the fastest time in her group in qualifications, she was the fastest in her group in the quarter finals and second in her group in the semi-finals.
In the final run, Lampič finished 0.21 seconds slower than the winner, Swede Linn Svahn. Swede Maja Dahlqvist took third place, lagging only 0.5 seconds behind Lampič.
"I think Dresden is growing on me. There's a bit of a bitter aftertaste because I feel that I could have won today. But it is what it is and we'll keep on fighting tomorrow," she said, referring to the sprint relay scheduled for tomorrow.
"Today I was blocked in the home stretch and I couldn't take advantage of my speed. I couldn't make it to the front and had to wait for the piste to widen. I attacked by I didn't manage to win.
"Tomorrow Katja and I will do our best, improve our handoff and hope for a podium," Lamšič said, referring to her teammate Katja Višnar.
The first results of fan voting for the NBA All-star game later this year have revealed Dončić at the top, ahead of Giannis Antetokounmpo and James LeBron.
Fan votes account for only half of the votes for the star players of the East and West conferences. The other half is divided between players and the press. Seven reserve players are chosen by the head coaches, who are not allowed to vote for their own players. Out of the pool of 24 players two teams are put together by the leading vote getters of the respective conference, the team captains. Last year, these were LeBron and Antetokounmpo.
The voting will conclude on January 20, 2020 and the NBA All-star game will take place on February 16, 2020.