Sport

23 Jan 2021, 18:15 PM

STA, 23 January 2021 - Slovenian women's ski jumpers Ema Klinec, Špela Rogelj, Urša Bogataj in Nika Križnar won Saturday's World Cup team event, in what is their first-ever team event win. The victory comes after they finished second at the same venue, in Slovenia's Ljubno ob Savinji, in 2019 and 2020.

Having led already after the first series, they finished as many as 17.9 points ahead of second placed Norway while Austria's team placed third.

"This is a historic victory for Slovenian ski jumping. I'm glad it's a team victory, because it means the most to me," head coach Zoran Zupančič told the press after he dared to forecast on Friday the girls would win today.

He said Ema Klinec did a great job with the first jump, leading the way for the entire team. He admitted it was a good tactical move to pick her for the first jump.

He also thanked all his predecessors and all the girls who had helped make Slovenia one of the leading nations in ski jumping.

Zupančič is confident that "we can look forward to tomorrow's individual event", which will feature seven Slovenian ski jumpers.

Friday's qualifications attracted to Ljubno a record 76 ski jumpers from 17 countries.

Although World Cup ski-jumping brings 10-15 thousand visitors to Ljubno, this year it is held without spectators due to the coronavirus epidemic.

* Results:

  1. Slovenia 1064.8 points
  2. Norway 1046.9
  3. Austria 1028.9
  4. Japan 989.6
  5. Germany 968.0
  6. Russia 925.6
  7. France 882.1
  8. Poland 864.6
06 Jan 2021, 13:15 PM

STA, 6 January 2020 - The World Boxing Federation (WBF) has declared Slovenia's Ema Kozin the best WBF woman boxer of the year 2020, while her coach Rudi Pavlin has in turn been declared the best WBF coach in the last year. This is a second WBF award for Kozin, who last year won the award for the best women's fight of the year.

The win in the tough fight with Chris Namus of Uruguay in mid-October is what brought the Slovenian the accolade and helped her succeed Nicole Wesner of Germany as the best WBF women boxer.

VIDEO

With the victory, Kozin has retained WBF and WIBA middleweight titles and has won the vacant WBC interim middleweight title.

Her coach Rudi Pavlin has meanwhile succeeded Thomas Hanshaw of the US as the WBF coach of the year.

"This is a nice recognition for our small team. This provides you with a new momentum and motivation, which is very important after 2020, which was special because of coronavirus," Pavlin told the STA about the award.

The coach noted that last year was really difficult because of cancelled and postponed fights, but Kozin "has won the champion title in the WBC organisation and we have opened a new chapter in her career, which has not gone unnoticed."

With the professional record of 20 wins, zero losses and one draw, the Slovenian is going strong into the new year.

"A path to the US is opening up, and we also have offers for fights in Panama, but the things related to the pandemic need to be sorted out first," the coach said.

21 Dec 2020, 16:09 PM

The Prva Liga Telekom Slovenije reached the halfway mark last week, with heavyweights Maribor enjoying a slender lead at the summit of the table.

The 15-time Slovenian top-flight championships needed to come back from behind twice in their final encounter of 2020 on Sunday evening, rescuing a 2-2 draw with second-from bottom Aluminij to preserve their four-match unbeaten run.

Hosts Maribor were pegged back 22 minutes into the game as Alen Kranjc was played through on goal, forcing a smart save from goalkeeper Azbe Jug who could only parry the ball into the path of David Flakus Bosilj who passed the ball into an open net to give the visitors a surprise lead.

Aluminij’s 1-0 advantage lasted barely a minute as Jan Repas’ stunning strike from outside the box found the top corner to draw his side level.

‘The Purples’ found themselves a goal behind once more on the half-hour mark when, after conceding a free-kick just outside the penalty area, Roko Prša’s left-footed thunderbolt crashed in off the crossbar to put Aluminij ahead once more.

The first-half goals continue to rain in at Stadion Ljudski Vrt when seven minutes before the break, Denis Klinar’s pinpoint cross from the right flank was powerfully headed home by Rudi Požeg as he netted his fifth goal of the campaign.

In the second stanza, neither side’s defence was breached again as the spoils were shared in a 2-2 draw, with Maribor’s lead after 19 games cut to three points at the summit of the standings, while Aluminij remain in the relegation play-off position in ninth place.

Maribor have now won eight and drawn one of their ten previous games, the only blip on their record coming at the start of December when they were beaten 2-0 by capital club Olimpija.

Olimpija have been unbeaten since that clash, their 2-0 win over Gorica on Saturday leaving them breathing down Maribor’s necks in the title race, with third-placed Mura just two points further back following their 3-1 win over last season’s surprise league champions Celje.

Celje have struggled this term, and after three losses in four games towards the end of November, seemingly bounced back with consecutive wins over Gorica and Koper, yet the loss against Mura leaves them in a precarious 7th spot on the table.

Koper emerged victorious in an entertaining seven-goal thriller on Saturday, putting four past Tabor in a 4-3 victory which leaves them in fourth place on the log with just over half the season completed.

League table.jpg

Table: Twitter @PrvaLigaSi

After 19 games played in the current 2020/21 season, Koper forward Nardin Mulahusejnović leads the goalscoring charts with nine goals so far, closely followed by Domžale’s Dario Kolobaric and Olimpija duo Dorde Ivanović and Andres Vombergar with eight goals apiece.

The Slovenian league will now recess for the Christmas break, with the league’s return date set for January 20.

13 Dec 2020, 18:52 PM

STA, 13 December 2020 - Norway won the team event at the Ski Flying World Championships at Slovenia's Planica on Sunday, overtaking Germany in the last round as Halvor Egner Granerud performed better than Karl Geiger, who beat the Norwegian yesterday in the individual event. Slovenia bounced back from the turmoil in their ranks by finishing fourth.

The Norwegian team thus defended their gold medal from the previous Ski Flying World Championships to earn the fifth medal for the nation in team events.

After Geiger won the individual event and his counterpart Markus Eisenbichler finished third on Saturday, Germany were considered favourites to win their first team event, and they were actually at the very top all the way until the last round.

But Granerud turned the things around in the last jump, bringing Norway's total tally to 1,727.7 points, against Germany's 1,708.5. The bronze medal went to Poland, which scored 1665.5 points.

Following turmoil in the national team that saw jumper Timi Zajc and head coach Gorazd Bertoncelj leaving the team on Saturday, Peter Prevc returned to the squad to help Slovenia take the forth place (1,609.9 points).

The remaining four teams were far behind - Japan (5th) scored 1,483.5 points, followed by Austria (1,422.1), Russia (1,356.3) and Finland (1,284.8).

13 Dec 2020, 14:06 PM

STA, 13 December 2020 - Martin Čater won the World Cup season opening downhill in France's Val d'Iser on Sunday in what is the first podium finish for the 27-year-old, who entered the race with the start number 41.

In a sensational feat, Čater headed down the piste two hours into the race but his perfect line in excellent conditions allowed him to take the lead of the pack.

He finished the race 0.22 seconds ahead of Austria's Otmar Striedinger in second and 0.27 seconds ahead of Switzerland's Urs Kryenbühl in third.

"I still cannot believe it. I thought I was fast, I really had a good run, but I still couldn't believe it was enough for a victory," the incredulous Čater told reporters.

"There's been a lot of fresh snow and the organizers did their best to prepare an excellent, bump-free, smooth track, ideal in fact as I had every good conditions despite the high start number."

He said that he was in shock himself when he crossed the finish line and looked at the results board.

"Incredible sensations. I hope I won't change a thing going into the next race and keep my focus," he said.

Čater is only the third Slovenian male World Cup downhill winner since independence after Andrej Jerman, who has two wins, and Boštjan Kline, who secured the most recent one in 2017.

His personal World Cup downhill best so far was 8th in Wengen in 2019 and his World Cup best 6th spot in the Wengen alpine combined in January this year. At the super-G event yesterday he failed to get any points at all.

12 Dec 2020, 20:20 PM

STA, 12 December 2020 - Germany's Karl Geiger won the individual event of the Ski Flying World Championship at Slovenia's Planica with a total of 877.2 points after a nail-biting finish in which the second-placed Halvor Egner Granerud of Norway fell behind by only half of a point after four rounds of jumping.

Geiger led from start to finish as the individual event started with two rounds on Friday and wrapped up on Saturday with another two rounds.

The German had an advantage of 7.7 points heading into the last round but Granerud saved his best jump for the last round, soaring to the 243-metre mark for the second-longest jump so far at the championships.

Geiger responded with a 231.5-metre effort to stay in the first place by a whisker, winning 877.2 points against the Norwegian's 876.7 points. The ski flying title thus returns to Germany after Severin Freund won it in 2004.

"There was a lot of pressure. It felt good already after the first jump, but I was aware that I had to stay focused until the last jump. This is unbelievable. I really felt good right from the get-go," Geiger told reporters.

Finishing third to win the bronze medal was Markus Eisenbichler of Germany, who shook off Michael Hayböck of Austria with a 230-metre jump to earn 859.3 points and leave the Austrian more than 14 points behind.

The best Slovenian in the first three rounds, Anže Lanišek, further improved in the last round to finish 12th with 777.2 points, after managing his best jump of all four rounds of 228 metres.

Bor Pavlovčič finished in the 20th place with 715.5 points, and Domen Prevc was right behind him with 712.7 points.

There were four Slovenian competitors in the first two rounds on Friday, but Timi Zajc has been kicked out of the national team following an exchange with head coach Gorazd Bertoncelj, who has also left the team.

Slovenia will appear in Sunday's team event though, as Zajc will be replaced by Peter Prevc, who is returning to the Planica "bubble" after failing to make the team for the individual event.

Robert Hrgota, the former ski jumper and Bertoncelj's deputy, who had to jump in as the new leader after the discord in the Slovenian team, said after the individual event that Slovenians were going for a podium finish in the team event.

"Anže showed yesterday and today that he is close to the top. He is the bright star at the moment and we are happy that we have a strong trump card who will also fight tomorrow to help Slovenia rank high," he added.

In the statement for the national broadcaster TV Slovenija, the interim head coach added that the "battle for the podium will take place until the last jump. There are eight jumps in the team event and many things can happen."

* Final standings of the individual event at Planica:
 1 Karl Geiger (GER)           877.2 pts (241/223.5/240.5/231.5 m)
 2 Halvor Egner Granerud (NOR) 876.7 (221/229.5/239/243)
 3 Markus Eisenbichler (GER)   859.3 (220/247/234.5/230)
 4 Michael Hayböck (AUT)       845.1 (245.5/217/237.5/220.5)
 5 Robert Johansson (NOR)      841.0 (220/228.5/228/232)
 6 Yukiya Sato (JAP)           835.1 (222/229/228/229)
 7 Piotr Žyla (POL)            828.6 (221.5/224.5/227/224.5)
 8 Kamil Stoch (POL)           808.5 (213/229/223/222.5)
 9 Evgeni Klimov (RUS)         802.2 (237/208/222.5/220)
10 Andrzej Stekala (POL)       792.4 (224.5/215.5/224.5/212)
...
12 Anže Lanišek (SLO)          777.2 (196/218,5/215.5/228)
20 Bor Pavlovčič (SLO)         715.5 (207/198/207/203.5)
21 Domen Prevc (SLO)           712.7 (206/206.5/206.7/207.5)
...
11 Dec 2020, 15:01 PM

STA, 11 December 2020 - The Ski Flying World Championships at Slovenia's Planica will start on Friday with the first two rounds of the individual event. Four Slovenian jumpers will be in the competition. One of main favourites is Markus Eisenbichler of Germany, who topped Thursday's qualifiers.

Slovenia will be represented by Bor Pavlovčič, Timi Zajc, Anže Lanišek and Domen Prevc and another 36 jumpers will take part in the individual event, which will conclude on Saturday with two more rounds.

Eisenbichler, the winner of the last World Cup event on the Brothers Gorišek hill at Planica in 2019, has put his name among the favourites as he won the qualifiers with what was not actually the longest jump.

The longest flight was taken by Michael Hayböck of Austria, who landed at 242.5 metres for second place in the qualifiers. Halvor Egner Granerud of Norway, the winner of the last three World Cup events, was third.

Missing out was Slovenia's Peter Prevc, one of the heroes of Planica and former world champion and record holder, who failed to show a good form in internal Slovenian qualifiers during the official training.

Also out of the individual event is the current world record holder Stefan Kraft of Austria (253.5 metres in Vikersund in 2017), who has aggravated a back injury.

The Ski Flying World Championships, which is held without spectators due to the Covid-19 protocol and for the first time in Planica under floodlights in the afternoon hours, will wrap up on Sunday with the team event.

09 Dec 2020, 11:16 AM

STA, 8 December 2020 - The world's top ski jumpers will converge on Slovenia's Planica this week for the Ski Flying World Championships, which has been moved up from March due to the Covid-19 epidemic. The event will be held for the first time without spectators, under floodlights, and under strict anti-epidemic rules.

Last season ended prematurely for ski jumpers and the Ski Flying World Championships was postponed to December. After almost nine months, Slovenia is thus finally hosting the main ski flying event in the world.

Slovenian jumpers will be defending their team silver medal from Germany's Oberstdorf in 2018, although without spectators, who traditionally pack the stadium below the large hill of the Planica Nordic Centre and create a roaring atmosphere.

Planica under floodlights for the first time, without spectators and under strict ant-epidemic measures

This time, the valley under the Ponce mountains in the north-western corner of Slovenia will be fully closed for spectators, and access to the valley by car will be prohibited. Fans of ski flying will have to watch the ski flyers at home.

This is not the only unusual thing, as it will also be the first time in the history of the Gorišek Brothers' ski flying hill that a competition will be held under artificial lights. The organisers needed a lot of them, equalling to lighting of two football stadiums in Ljubljana, head of competition Jelko Gros has told the STA.

Immediately after the competition was cancelled in March due to the coronavirus outbreak, the organisers saved around 9,000 cubic metres of snow from the area, which has been preserved to be used for the competition in December.

The organisation is much more difficult than usual, as precautionary measures need to be taken for possible positive Covid-19 tests. For this reason, the event will be organised with the smallest possible number of staff.

Gros will be heading a competition at Planica for the last time, and his current assistant Aljoša Dolhar will take over from him for the World Cup season finale next March.

"Due to coronavirus, we have managed the event in a way that enables it to continue even if some of were to test positive or had to be quarantined due to contact with an infected person," Gros described the problems related to Covid-19.

All participants will need to be tested, and the area will be divided into two zones. As many as 80 staff will organise the competition in the green (safe) zone or the snowflake, as the quarantine bubble is called in the winter sport circles.

The remaining staff will be in the grey zone, where they will be tested with rapid tests performed by the Jesenice general hospital. Persons from the two zones are not expected to be in contact, except in special circumstances.

Slovenian "eagles" have eight medals from world championships, but none from Planica

Slovenian ski jumpers have so far won eight medals at the Ski Flying World Championships, but none of them comes from Planica, which will this year host the event for the seventh time after 1972, 1979, 1985, 1994, 2004 and 2010.

The first medal (silver) was won by Primož Ulaga in Oberstdorf in 1988, who was followed by Urban Franc in Kulm in 1996 (bronze), and Robert Kranjec in Vikersund in 2012 (gold). It was there that Kranjec and his compatriots Jernej Damjan, Jurij Tepeš and Jure Šinkovec won the team bronze.

Two years later in Harrachov, Peter Prevc won bronze, and the most successful Slovenian ski jumper ever also won the world champion title in Kulm in 2016. At the latest championship in Oberstdorf, Slovenians continued the medal streak by returning home with the team silver in the line-up Peter and Domen Prevc, Anže Semenič and Jernej Damjan.

Slovenians ski flyers are determined to finish on the podium in Planica, with head coach Gorazd Bertoncelj having already selected the competitors from the ranks of the home nation - Anže Lanišek, Bor Pavlovčič, Žiga Jelar, Peter Prevc, Timi Zajc and Domen Prevc.

Slovenians are not really in an excellent shape, but large ski flying hills have always served as a "wake up" for them, which is something they are counting on this year.

Many unknowns about competition as coronavirus affects ski jumping

Ski jumpers have not been spared the coronavirus pandemic in the new season, and Ski Jumping World Cup director Sandro Pertile will miss the event as he has tested positive. It is not known yet what the competition will actually be like.

Having the most problems is the Austrian team, where the nine positive jumpers include Stefan Kraft, the world record holder (253.5 metres in Vikersund in 2017) and the World Cup winner from last season.

Four of them have since returned negative tests, including Kraft. The decision on who will represent Austria is expected to be taken by Wednesday.

On the other hand, the Norwegian team is coming to Slovenia in an excellent shape, after winning the team gold and the individual gold medal (Daniel-André Tande) at the last world championship in 2018. This time, the role of favourite will be played by Halvor Egner Granerud, who has won the last three World Cup events.

Having entered the season on a roll are the Germans with Markus Eisenbichler, the winner of the last event held at the Gorišek Brothers hill. Poland's Kamil Stoch, Dawid Kubacki and Piotr Žyla, who missed the last World Cup event in Russia and are training for the world championship at home, are also known for their aptitude for long flights.

08 Dec 2020, 13:19 PM

Slovenia has been drawn in a tough Group H against neighbours Croatia in the European World Cup qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

The draw to determine the qualifying groups was conducted on Monday, December 7, pitting 55 European teams into ten qualifying groups, with 13 of those making up the 32 spots at the next edition of the World Cup in two years’ time.

Seeded in Pot 4, Slovenia was drawn against 2018 host nation Russia, Slovakia, Cyprus, Malta and 2018 losing finalists and neighbours Croatia.

Slovenia has not beaten Croatia in their eight encounters played since 1995, drawing three and losing the five, their last defeat coming in a 3-2 friendly loss in 2008.

“Certainly the charm of all this is Croatia,” said Slovenia head coach Matjaž Kek following the draw. “I already have quite a few calls from journalists from Croatia. Very challenging and also a competitive group. Slovenia is not the favourite, but it will do everything to prepare well and use all the opportunities it has in the playing staff.”

Slovakia and Malta were previously drawn against Slovenia in the qualifying Group F for the 2018 World Cup, with Slovenia finishing fourth in a group topped by England as they missed out on the global showpiece in Russia.

With favourable records against Slovakia, Cyprus and Malta and an evenly-match record against the Russians (two wins, two losses and a draw in five previous matches), Slovenia will be encouraged by their current form, having gone unbeaten in all eight internationals played this year as they earned promotion to League B in the UEFA Nations League.

Currently ranked 62nd in the World, Slovenia will be attempting to qualify for a World Cup for just the third time in their history, having only previously appeared at the prestigious tournaments in 2002 and 2010, where they exited in the group stages on both occasions.

Qualifiers will be played between March and November 2021, with all ten group winners securing qualification, with the ten group runners up, alongside the two best group winners from the UEFA Nations League who failed to secure a qualification spot in their group, taking part in a three-way play-off.

The 2022 World Cup in Qatar will take place between November 21 and December 18, the very first time the tournament will not take place in the European summer months.

 world cup draw.jpg

Full 2022 FIFA World Cup European qualifying draw:

Group A: Portugal, Serbia, Republic of Ireland, Luxembourg, Azerbaijan

Group B: Spain, Sweden, Greece, Georgia, Kosovo

Group C: Italy, Switzerland, Northern Ireland, Bulgaria, Lithuania

Group D: France, Ukraine, Finland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kazakhstan

Group E: Belgium, Wales, Czech Republic, Belarus, Estonia

Group F: Denmark, Austria, Scotland, Israel, Faroe Islands, Moldova

Group G: Netherlands, Turkey, Norway, Montenegro, Latvia, Gibraltar

Group H: Croatia, Slovakia, Russia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta

Group I: England, Poland, Hungary, Albania, Andorra, San Marino

Group J: Germany, Romania, Iceland, North Macedonia, Armenia, Liechtenstein

01 Dec 2020, 13:52 PM

Slovenian goalkeeper Jan Oblak reached a historic milestone for club side Atletico Madrid over the weekend after starting his 200th league match for the Spanish side.

The ever-reliable shot-stopper put on yet another impressive display, including a fine save to deny Uroš Račić in the first half, as a late own goal gave Atletico a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Valencia to continue their impressive start to the season.

Los Rojiblancos, as Atletico are affectionately known, are the only unbeaten side in La Liga this season, registering seven wins and two draws from their nine La Liga games played so far as they sit in second place on the table, one point behind leaders Real Sociedad who have however played two matches more.

Instrumental to their current hot streak has been star gloveman Oblak, who has kept seven clean sheets and conceded just two goals across all nine games played.

Following his landmark achievement, Oblak took to social media to celebrate and thank his supporters.

“Three more points and 200 games in La Liga,” he wrote. “Thanks for the support!”

The 27-year-old, who was La Liga’s most expensive goalkeeper when he arrived at Atletico from Portuguese side Benfica in 2014, is now into his seventh season in the Spanish capital, where he has established himself as one of the best goalkeepers in the world.

In 200 league appearances for Atletico, Oblak has conceded just 123 goals and kept 112 clean sheets, ranking him highest among goalkeepers across Europe’s top five leagues over the same period. Since March 2015, he has kept 36 more clean sheets than any other keeper – second on that list, coincidentally, is compatriot Samir Handanovic of Italy’s Inter Milan who has kept 76 clean sheets in the 204 matches he has played in the same timeframe.

The Škofja Loka-born star has thus kept a clean sheet in 56% of the league games he has played – German superstar Manuel Neuer is a distant second in those rankings with a clean sheet rate of 49%. The former Olimpija Ljubljana goal-minder also tops the charts in terms of minutes per goal conceded – he lets in a goal, on average, every 145 minutes, with Liverpool’s Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson second on that list, conceding a goal every 124 minutes.

Oblak, who often wears the captain’s armband for Slovenia, has taken his incredible form into the national team as well, having kept five clean sheets in all five UEFA Nations League encounters in which he played as Slovenia topped their group, earning promotion to League B for the 2022/23 edition.

Oblak will next be in La Liga action on Saturday evening when Atletico host 17th-placed Real Valladolid.

01 Dec 2020, 12:19 PM

STA, 30 November 2020 - The Slovenian men's basketball team has qualified for the 2022 Eurobasket with wins against Ukraine and Austria in a mini "bubble" tournament held in Ljubljana's Stožice Arena as part of the qualifying Group F. Slovenia will thus be defending their gold medal from the previous European championship in 2017.

Playing without its NBA and EuroLeague players, Slovenia defeated Ukraine (84:73) on Saturday and Austria (77:64) on Sunday to secure a berth at the European championship, to be hosted by Germany, Italy, Georgia and the Czech Republic.

There are two games to go for Slovenia in Group F, which also features Hungary, but the national team has three wins in four matches in the qualifiers to sit firmly atop of the group. The last two matches are scheduled to be played in February 2021.

Slovenia all but secured a berth at the EuroBasket before Monday's match between Ukraine and Austria, and only needed Ukraine to win to make it. Ukraine did the favour by beating the Austrians 70:67 in the last match of the Ljubljana bubble.

The tournament was supposed to also feature Hungary, but their matches have been postponed due to several positive Covid-19 tests by Hungarian players.

Modelled after the National Basketball Association's (NBA) isolation zone in Orlando, Florida, Ljubljana hosted the mini tournament in Stožice Arena in cooperation with the nearby Austria Trend Hotel.

It was to be one of the eight bubbles in Europe organised under the auspices of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) to continue the qualifiers for the next EuroBasket, scheduled to take place on 1-18 September 2022.

In the Ljubljana bubble, Slovenia were led by new head coach Aleksander Sekulić, who recently took over from Radovan Trifunović, who parted ways with the KZS at the end of March.

Sekulić was satisfied with his team's play in the bubble. "We showed maximum effort and we were fully dedicated to the goal. We were lucky that the lads know each other well and that they know how to function as a true team."

The team was captained by Edo Murić, the player who has earned the most caps in the national team among all players who took part in the tournament, who said that the two wins had come as a huge relief.

"It was crazy back in February. This time we showed true energy, although it is not easy to play two games in two days, especially against physically strong opponents. We are the best team in our group and we need to prove this next February."

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