STA, 6 October 2019 - Lučka Rakovec became the European lead champion in Edinburgh on Sunday, adding another highlight to what has been a spectacular season for Slovenian sports climbing.
This is the biggest success in the career of 18-year-old Rakovec and confirms Slovenia has an incredible wealth of sports climbing talent that goes well beyond the reigning triple world champion Janja Garnbret who is not competing in Edinburgh.
Garnbret also won lead gold at the August World Championships in Hachioji while silver went to her compatriot Mia Krampl.
What is more, courtesy of Urška Repušič and Vita Lukan, gold and silver also went to Slovenia at the September European bouldering championships in Zakopane.
STA, 5 October 2019 - Slovenian cyclist Primož Roglič of the Dutch team Team Jumbo-Visma won the single-stage Giro d'Emillia race on Saturday to add to his numerous feats this year, which include the overall win at the prestigious Vuelta a Espana.
The Giro dell'Emilia is held annually in Bologna, Italy. Since 2005, it has been organised as a second-tier event organised by the International Cycling Union (UCI) as part of the UCI Europe Tour.
Roglič won the 103rd edition of the race, a 207-km stage between Bologna and San Luca, finishing 15 seconds ahead Michael Woods of Canada and Sergio Higuita of Colombia.
The first Slovenian to win this traditional race has won this season the UAE Tour, Tirreno-Adriatico, Tour de Romandie and Vuelta a Espana to establish himself as one of the finest riders in the world at the moment.
Roglič already won the stage of this year's Giro d'Italia, in which he finished third, which featured the same climb as the Giro d'Emillia.
The last time I was here I won, and for this reason I certainly like San Luca very much," said the 29-year-old, who will take part in another two races before the end of the season - in Varese and Lombardy.
Slovene sport climbing fans had an intense weekend, with the arrival of the IFSC Lead Climbing World Cup to Kranj. The competition landed in Slovenia with a wide range of possibilities ahead. Before this weekend, on women’s competition Chaehyun Seo from Korea was leading the way with two victories, while local hero Janja Ganrbret closely followed in the second place in the overall ranking.
Kranj’s World Cup started on Saturday with the qualification round. After a strong performance on this stage, Garnbret safely moved to the semi-finals after she topped one route and made it to hold 39+ on the second one. However, she fell really low down on the wall at the semi-finals, missing her second final in this year’s lead competition. This means that after this weekend, although she is still in second place in the overall ranking with 243 points, it is less likely that she will be able to win the lead title.
On the other hand, Mia Krampl and Lučka Rakoveč safely made it to the finals, which took place on Sunday evening in front of a massive, delighted crowd. Mia Krampl went first, and although she looked really strong in the first half of the route, she almost slipped on hold 20, and after she tried to go for hold 21 she sadly fell down. Certainly not the final Mia was expecting, but surely she will go for the win on upcoming competitions. As a matter of fact, holds 20 and 21 became a problem for some of the athletes, as four of them went down at this point.
However, when Lučka Rakoveč, the other female Slovene athlete, jumped on the mats, the audience went crazy once again. Her climbing style was powerful and secure, and she safely made it through holds 20 and 21 without further ado. Lučka started to look slightly pumped after her rest on the overhanging part of the wall, and fell down after hold 34+. After the last climber out, Ai Mori, also went down on hold 20+ – the same as Mia Krampl – Lučka secured a bronze medal in Kranj’s World Cup, successfully achieving her first podium in a Lead World Cup. As she did on the past World Cups, Chaehyun Seo secured her third win of the season reaching to hold 34.5+, while Jessica Pilz from Austria claimed the silver medal with a 34.5.
As for the rest of female Slovene athletes, Tjaša Kalan, Lana Skušek and Mina Markovič made it to the semi-finals and ended up in 10th, 11th and 15th places. Lucija Tarkuš finished her competition in 41st place in the qualification round.
On the men’s side, Alexander Megos (Germany) and Sasha Lehmann (Switzerland) and William Bosi (United Kingdom) were battling over the first positions on the overall ranking. However, several surprises waited ahead over the weekend as all of them missed this competition. All eyes were therefore on Adam Ondra after he missed his first chance to qualify for the 2020 Olympics and Jakob Schubert (two times Overall Lead World Cup Winner).
Adam Ondra on the wall. YouTube
The first did not disappoint and absolutely dominated all competition rounds. He topped both routes in qualification, finished on hold 39+ – almost the top – at the semi-finals and once again topped the final route, being the only man who actually made it past hold 32. Impressive performance by the Czech climber, who was a crowd-pleaser and delivered a great show for local audience.
No such luck for Jakob Schubert, who was the penultimate athlete to jump into the mats and had to deal with hold 12+ losing its friction as the competition went on. After he didn’t find a good position to face this problem, he fell down before even reaching the middle of the route.
Surprises were not over as Kai Harada, a climber who usually performs better on boulder categories, finished his competition in 2nd place, and young rising star Alberto Ginés Lopez, a 16-year-old from Spain, made it to his first Lead World Cup Podium in 3rd position.
As for the Slovene male athletes, none of them could make it into the final. Luka Potočar, Martin Bergant and Anze Peharc performed really well on semi-final round but could only make it to13th, 15th and 16th positions. In the qualification round, Jernej Kruder, Žiga Zajc, Milan Preskar and Andrej Polak finished in 42nf, 45th, 52th and 56th places.
With only two Lead World Cups remaining, Janja Garnbret, Mia Krampl and Lučka Rakovec will be able to perform her last battles of the season to secure positions in the overall lead podium. Next stop will be Xiamen (China), from the 18th till the 20th of October.
Janja Garnbret is, the figures show, the best climber in the history of sport climbing, lead and boulder, but she failed to make the final in front of a home crowd in Kranj this weekend, and thus was able to enjoy the event from a new perspective. The women’s lead was won by South Korea’s Chaehyun Seo, with silver and bronze taken by Jessica Pilz (Austria) and Lučka Rakovec (Slovenia), respectively. Other Slovene’s in the top 20 were Mia Krampl (7th), Tjaša Kalan (10th), Lana Skušek (11th), Janja Garnbret (13th), and Mina Markovič (15th).
With regard to the men, the event was won by Adam Ondra, followed by Kai Harada and Alberto Ginés López. The highest ranked Slovene was Luka Potočar, in 13th place.
STA, 29 September 2019 - The Slovenian men's national volleyball team won another silver at the European Championship after losing the final match to Serbia 1:3 in Paris on Sunday.
After making an improbable run in the home arena in Ljubljana, beating the European champions Russia and world champions Poland in the process, Slovenia had to concede to Serbia even though they won the first set.
It was a complete turnaround for Serbia, who eliminated the home team France in the semi-finals in an epic battle which lasted five sets, and then beat Slovenia for their third gold at the European championships, coming after the wins in 2001 and 2011.
For Slovenia this is meanwhile the second silver medal on the European stage, coming after the second place at the championship played in Italy and Bulgaria 2015, when the Slovenians had to concede to France in the finals.
This time, Slovenia was powered to the finals by the home crowd who came in thousands to Stožice Arena to cheer for the home team as it made its way from Group C and to the finals past Bulgaria, Russia and Poland in the elimination matches.
Captain Tine Urnaut was a bit disappointed after the loss, telling reporters that the team had wanted to win badly but admitting that the Serbs played better, especially on defence.
He was nevertheless happy with the experience, saying that Slovenia were actually proud of winning another silver, pointing to the Slovenian crowd who came to France and saying it was "something phenomenal".
"Great thanks to them for supporting us in Slovenia, through all the matches, for coming here in Paris and I'm sorry that we haven't managed to come in first today," added the 31-year-old veteran.
The Slovenian volleyball team will be welcomed home on Monday together with cyclists Primož Roglič and Tadej Pogačar at an event in Ljubljana's Congress Square.
Serbia was better than us / We let them win
Source: Reddit, r/slovenia. Learn Slovene with memes here
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.
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
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."
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.
??Z M A G A v Stožicah za FINALE v Parizu ❗️❗️Odlična igra fantov v 4⃣ nizu (25:23) Hvala najboljšim navijačem❤️ Izjemni ste? ??— Slovenia Volleyball (@SloVolley) September 26, 2019
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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.
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.
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.