29 Sep 2019, 10:19 AM

STA, 28 September 2019 - Slovenia's Eva Terčelj won gold in women's kayak race at the 2019 ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships in La Seu d'Urgell, Spain on Saturday. This is the third medal for Slovenia at the championship.

Silver went to Australia's Jessica Fox and bronze to Luuka Jones from New Zealand.

The 27-year-old Terčelj from Ljubljana thus earned Slovenia the first individual medal in women's races at world championships.

"You can never forecast a medal in kayak, let alone a victory ... That's why I didn't think about a medal, I never even imagined what it would be like to become the champion ... I am really thrilled, it hasn't really sunk in yet," Terčelj said.

"This kind of victory is that much more valuable, because it I earned it with my ride and not because of my rival's mistakes ... All those years of hard work, and ups and downs finally paid off," the champion added.

The gold is Slovenia's third medal at the championship after canoeist Luka Božič won bronze earlier today and the Slovenian kayak team bagged gold on Wednesday.

28 Sep 2019, 09:48 AM

Serbia defeated France 3:2 in the European Championship's semi-final match on Friday, qualifying for the finals where it will play against Slovenia this Sunday.

The situation is reminiscent of the 2017 European basketball championship, in which Slovenia, considered by many as not a strong medal contender, qualified for the finals, where it overpowered historically a much stronger team of Serbia thereby winning the title (and its first medal ever).

Two years later, Slovenia entered European Volleyball Championship seriously underestimated by many again. Although the team suffered a decisive defeat against Russia (3:0) in the qualifiers, Slovenia met Russia again during the knockouts, eliminating it in the quarterfinals, while the team beat Poland, another gold medal contender,  in the semi-finals. To win the volleyball championship Slovenian team will thus, just like two years ago in Eurobasket, have to beat Serbia in the finals, which will take place in Paris, France this Sunday, and be watched in homes, cafés and bars all over Slovenia

27 Sep 2019, 12:39 PM

STA, 27 September 2019 - Slovenia's national volleyball team is travelling to Paris for the final of the European Volleyball Championship in what will be their second gold-medal match in four years. Following an improbable run powered by the Ljubljana crowd, the team will be looking to improve on its silver medal from 2015 and return home with gold.

While Slovenia's opponent in the final is yet to be determined, with Serbia and France playing the other semi-final today, Slovenia are already packing for Paris after beating the reigning world champions Poland 3:1 yesterday.

The win took place in the sold-out Stožice Arena, with more than 11,000 people tirelessly cheering for the home team from the first to last minutes, helping Slovenia beat the favoured Poles, who had been demolishing teams on their way to the semis.

It came after Slovenia finished second in Group C, behind the reigning European champions Russia, defeated Bulgaria 3:1 in the round of 16 and avenging the group stage loss to Russia in the quarter-finals by beating them 3:1.

The French capital will be another opportunity to win gold after Slovenia took silver at the 2015 championship in Bulgaria and Italy, losing to France in the finals. The teams could meet again on Sunday if the hosts of the medal round beat Serbia.

One of the heroes of the match was veteran captain Tine Urnaut, who led Slovenia with 18 points, second only to the naturalised Cuban in the ranks of Poland, Wilfredo Leon, who had game-high 22 points as he dominated with the serve and spikes.

Urnaut said that it did not matter who was on the other side of the court, "we said we would leave our hearts out there, that we would go all in. We had the unbelievable desire to win, because everything is possible in front of this great crowd."

Sunday's finals are hard to compare to that from four years ago, as then it was the first time for Slovenia. "The celebration ends when we get to the locker room, and we will try to get fully prepared to play the finals as well as possible."

Libero Jani Kovačič was happy that it was exactly the Poles to get beaten by Slovenia in the semi-finals, because "they can be rather arrogant sometimes, they have been convinced for some years that they are better than us".

Setter Dejan Vinčić, who plays professionally in Poland, said that Slovenia "did not want bronze, and we don't want silver, because we already have it, we are going to Paris for the gold medal".

Many Slovenian celebrities congratulated the players on social media, ice hockey player Anže Kopitar, retired skier Tina Maze, basketball players Luka Dončić and Goran Dragić and ski jumper Peter Prevc.

Slovenia will have strong support in Paris as well, as a few thousand Slovenians are expected there, with three charter flights taking off from Ljubljana today, and two on Saturday. Many others will travel there by coach or car.

While the tournament now shifts to the French capital, Stožice Arena is bidding farewell to volleyball after hosting 19 matches of the European Championships in two weeks, attended by a total of 76,000 people. The most foreign fans came from Finland (1,600).

The organisers received praise from the European Volleyball Confederation (CEV), with its representative Maja Poljak giving them an "A". She told the STA the organisation had exceeded her expectations and that she would report this to the superiors.

"I've played everywhere, seen a lot of arenas and matches, but I don't remember such an audience. Not only that it was loud, but fans cheered in a fair and sportsmanship manner. Ljubljana has made an excellent advertisement for volleyball."

26 Sep 2019, 23:16 PM

STA, 26 September 2019 - Slovenia defeated Poland 3:1 in the semifinal of the European Volleyball Championship on Thursday to qualify for the final in Paris.

Playing in front of a raucous capacity crowd in the Stožice arena, Slovenia narrowly won the first set 25:23 but lost a hard-fought second set before rebounding to wrap up the game after more than two hours of play.

The win takes them to the final in Paris, where they will attempt to improve on the biggest success Slovenian volleyball has ever recorded, silver medal in 2015.

The Slovenians will play either hosts France or Serbia, whose semifinal encounter is scheduled for Friday.

24 Sep 2019, 09:24 AM

The Slovenian national volleyball team beat Russia 3:1 last night, qualifying for the semi-finals of the Men’s European Volleyball Championship, with the teams next match set to take place in Ljubljana on 26 September when they will face Poland.

volleball slovenia russia 01.jpg

Odbojkarska zveza Slovenije (OZS) Facebook

Russia, two times world champion, beat Slovenia 3:0 in qualifiers but the two met again in the quarterfinals last night, when Slovenia managed to eliminate the champion in front of a hall full of a euphoric domestic audience.

The European Volleyball Championship takes place every two years and this is the first time it is being hosted by four countries, the Netherlands, France, Belgium and Slovenia, and also the first time the event has come to Slovenia.

Both finals, for the third and first places, will be hosted in Paris, France, meaning this Thursday is the last time the Slovenian national team will be playing at home.

23 Sep 2019, 10:34 AM

Janja Garnbret is the best sport climber in the world, and the best in the history of the young discipline, having already won thirteen World titles, with seven World Cup series and six World Championships, as well as making a clean sweep of a whole bouldering season. And while Garnbret’s dominance is unique, she’s far from the only Slovene who regularly appears high in the rankings.

Climbing is thus a Slovenian pursuit, and one that, thanks to its sporting incarnation is now easy to watch, understand and enjoy. While you can do so on TV and online, with the IFSC maintaining an excellent YouTube channel, this coming weekend, 28 – 29 September, you can watch live and in person as athletes with rare strength, flexibility and daring make their ascents.

The occasion is the ISFC World Cup Lead event, held on Saturday and Sunday at the Sport hall Zlato polje, Kidriceva 55, 4000 Kranj. Entrance is free on Saturday, while on Sunday tickets are €12 for the semi-finals and €20 for the finals, with more details here.

19 Sep 2019, 18:30 PM

STA, 19 September 2019 - The Slovenian men's national basketball team has received a special invitation to play in one of the four qualifying tournaments for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, which will be played next June.

The invitation is a consolation of sorts for the reigning European champions missing the recent FIFA World Cup in China, at which they could have a chance to qualify for Tokyo as one of the top two European teams.

This honour went to Spain and France as the top two finishing European teams at the World Cup, while another six slots for the Olympics are also already occupied.

The remaining four slots will be given to the winners of the four qualifying tournaments of six teams each or 24 teams in total. FIBA Europe has been allocated eleven berths for the tournament, one of them going to Slovenia.

Participating in the tournament will be 16 teams based on their result at the World Cup, and eight wild card teams invited on the basis of their FIBA rankings. From Europe, these wild card teams are Slovenia and Croatia.

A draw will divide the 24 teams among the four qualifying tournaments, whose hosts are yet to be announced.

Rašo Nesterović, the secretary general of the Slovenian Basketball Association, welcomed the invitation, adding that the national association was not thinking about hosting one of the tournaments.

"What the Slovenian Basketball Association will surely do is provide the optimal training conditions to the players and coaching staff, and we hope that the team will gather up in its strongest line-up," he added.

Slovenia are the reigning European champions, winning the EuroBasket tournament in 2017, but failed to qualify for this year's World Cup due to the changed qualification schedule which left the team without its biggest stars.

18 Sep 2019, 14:00 PM

Stuttgart was climbing’s world capital this past weekend as it held ‘Adidas Rockstars 2019’, one of the most important climbing competitions. This event has a unique concept: it has four rounds (qualification, semi-finals, finals and super-finals) instead of the usual three. Moreover, live-music is played at the venue, the Porsche-Arena, by a rock band. This combination creates an outstanding show for both fanatics and casual viewers of sport climbing.

The first rounds at Adidas Rockstars are similar to IFSC competitions: in the qualification round athletes (separated in women’s and men’s categories) have four different boulders and five minutes to top (finish the route) each of them. The best 20 athletes progress to THE semi-finals, where once again they will have five problems to top. Here’s where the competition differs from usual championships: only six climbers will make it to the first round of the finals, after which the best three will compete for a place in the super-finals. In this final round, two athletes will climb an identical route on two walls at the same time, and whoever tops it first will win the competition.

At this high-level event, climbers can only participate by being invited by the organisation or by winning “Ticket to Rockstars” competition. This year Slovenia had 10 representatives, being the country – tied up with Japan – bringing the most athletes to the tournament.

There was no surprise at the women's competition to see that Janja Garnbret made it to both finals and super-finals. As a matter of fact, she was the only female competitor to top all three routes in the finals, flashing (to need only one attempt to get to the top) two of them. However, Garnbret got stuck in one hold at the super-final and Futaba Ito won the gold medal.

After an impressive performance in the semi-finals, Lučka Rakoveč made it to the next round and finished in 6th place after achieving one zone at the first boulder. There was no such luck for the rest of the Slovene women, as Mia Krampl (Lead Silver Medal winner at Hachioji World Championships), Julja Kruder and Urška Repušič (European Boulder Champion) finished in 12th place after a brutal semifinal round.

In the men’s competition, although all of the Slovenes made it to the semi-finals, only Gregor Vezonik could progress to the final, finishing his competition in 6th place. This round had some interesting boulders to top, with only the winner of the competition, Yoshiyuki Ogata (who has also competed in Slovenian National Championships) topping all of them and claiming the win.

As for the rest of the Slovene men, the 2018 Bouldering World Cup and also 2013 & 2018 Adidas Rockstar’s winner Jernej Kruder, could only make it to 12th place. Zan Sudar, Domen Škofic and Anze Preharc finished in 7th, 14th and 16th place respectively.

After this intense weekend, sport climbing will take a short break before next IFSC Lead World Cup, which will take place in Slovenia (Kranj) on September 28th and 29th. You can buy tickets here.

15 Sep 2019, 20:54 PM

STA, 15 September 2019 - Cycling sensation Primož Roglič (Team Jumbo-Visma) became the first Slovenian to win a grand tour race, as he crossed the finish line of La Vuelta in Madrid on Sunday. What is more, another Slovenian, the young Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), completed the three-week race in place three and claimed the white jersey of the best young cyclist.

Roglič's total time was 83 hours, 31 minutes and seven seconds and he also claimed the green jersey for the highest tally of points.

In second place, Spanish veteran Alejandro Valverde finished the race in 83 hours, 9 minutes and 47 seconds, while Pogačar completed it in 83 hours, 10 minutes and 9 seconds.

The victory for Roglič, a 29-year-old former ski jumper, comes after a third place at the Giro d'Italia this year, another grand tour. He sat out this year's Tour de France to prepare for la Vuelta but also because he became father for the first time.

Roglič claimed the red jersey of la Vuelta in stage 10, becoming the first Slovenian to win a stage at all three grand tours and only the 99th cyclist to do so.

For the 20-year-old Pogačar, this was the first ever grand tour. He has shown what he is made of by winning three very demanding stages and has become the first UAE Team Emirates member to climb a grand tour podium since the team was renamed in 2017.

12 Sep 2019, 19:10 PM

Planica is mainly known as the location for the climax of the world ski flying season, when lightweight, daring athletes hurtle down the Gorišek Brothers Flying Hill and then speed through the air for up to a quarter of kilometre before touching down. The current record, set here in 2019 by Ryoyu Kobayashi, is 252 metres – equivalent to the frankly unbelievable length of 2.27 football (soccer) pitches.

But it’s also the site of another event, one that’s to open all to participate in and sees competitors run or stagger up the fearsome slope. This is when Planica is known as the most demanding part of the whole Red Bull 400 circuit, one that takes in 17 locations around the world. The athletes will cover just 400 metres in their ascent, but with a height gain of 202 metres – a real challenge for the legs, heart and lungs, as seen below.

The event takes place on Saturday, 14 September (2019), with the races starting at 11:45 and continuing until the very precisely scheduled Men’s Final 16:18. The challenge is open to anyone aged 16 and over on the day of the event, with full 400m races being run separately for men and women, as well 4x100m relays for men, mixed and “professional” groups. The official site is here.

It’s now too late to register, but if this kind of thing is your idea of fun then keep an eye to the as yet to be announced date of next year’s Red Bull Goni Pony challenge, riding one of Rog’s iconic little cycles up the road to the Vršič Pass. In terms of the brute facts this means pedalling 13.5 kilometres to the top of a mountain, a route that includes 24 hairpins turns and rises 801 vertical metres, with an average incline of 10.8%. This year it was in June, so you have plenty of time to get training.

10 Sep 2019, 09:10 AM

STA, 10 September 2019 - The Slovenian national football team scored a third win in a row in the qualifiers for the 2020 Euro by defeating Israel at home on Monday evening 3:2 to advance to second place in Group G behind the leading Poland.

 After beating Latvia on the road in June and defeating Poland in Stožice Stadium on Friday 2:0, Slovenia followed it up with a come-from-behind win against Israel to leapfrog Austria in the standings.

Playing in front of the home crowd of almost 11,000, Slovenia were first to score, as Josip Iličić assisted for Benjamin Verbič for a goal in the 43rd minute.

Israel turned the things around in the second half with goals in the 50th and 63rd minute, but Slovenia responded quickly, with Roman Bezjak equalising the score to 2:0 in the 66th minute off an assist from Andraž Šporar.

It seemed that Israel will walk off with a draw from Ljubljana, but Verbič scored with a header in the last minute of regulation to bring the much important win for Slovenia, keeping the team in contention for the final tournament.

"It was the character that won the match, the heart of the team, because you could tell that we were exhausted," Verbič said after the win.

Slovenia's head coach Matjaž Kek, who celebrated his 58th birthday yesterday, congratulated the players for the second win in four days. "Unbelievable game! I love jazz, but this was true rock and roll. It all turned out well at the end."

Israel head Andreas Herzog said that "we played a good match, showed good energy, but wasted the points by making mistakes. We played against a very good team, which had beaten Poland."

Slovenia will have a one-month break before the qualifiers continue on 10 October against North Macedonia on the road and against Austria at home on 13 October. The qualifying stage will conclude in November with the last two rounds.

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