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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
STA, 6 September 2019 - Slovenia proved to be a cycling tour superpower on Friday as Tadej Pogačar won the 13th stage of the Vuelta ahead of Primož Roglič, who increased the overall lead in the race of Spain.
The 166-kilometre stage between Bilbao and Los Machucos finished with a short (6.8km) but hellishly steep climb, where the Slovenian pair soon broke away to make Slovenia's biggest success ever.
In the all-Slovenian finish, Pogačar, the 20-year-old UAE Emirates rider, won his second stage victory to advance to the 2nd spot overall, putting on the best young rider's white jersey.
Wearing the race leader's red jersey, Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) only increased his overall lead ahead of Spain's Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) to two minutes and 25 seconds.
Pogačar, in his debut appearance at the Vuelta, lags three minutes and a second behind.
Coming in third in the 13th stage, France's Pierre Latour (AG2R La Mondiale) finished as many as 27 seconds behind the Slovenian riders today.
"I'm happy about today's achievement but the Vuelta is not over yet," Roglič commented after the race.
Pogačar was in disbelief: "I was told by the radio link that no one was behind us, I felt I'was looking at a good chance. I'm overwhelmed."
STA, 7 September 2019 - The Slovenian national football team beat the favoured Poland at home on Friday evening 2:0 to keep hopes alive for qualifying to the 2020 Euro. The win is a huge boost for the team which will host Israel on Monday, with which it is tied for the third place in the qualifying group.
Hosting the Group G leaders Poland in the sold-out Stožice Stadium, Slovenia needed a win to remain in play for the first two spots in the group that lead to the final tournament, and were given boost by more than 15,000 spectators in Ljubljana.
Slovenia displayed one of their best performances in recent years and were the first to score a goal against Poland in these qualifiers, with Aljaž Struna scoring in the 35th minute after an assist by Josip Iličić for Slovenia's 1:0 advantage.
Iličić was also the assist man in the 65th minute, when he sent the ball deep in Poland's territory to engage Andraž Šporar, who scored for 2:0 to the delight of the Slovenian crowd and the disappointment of some 2,000 Poles who came to watch the match.
It was only a second win for Slovenia in seven tries against Poland, a much-needed boost ahead of Monday's match in the same qualifiers against Israel, with which Slovenia shares the third place in the group with eight points each.
Slovenia's head coach Matjaž Kek said it was a "real game, and good atmosphere. When you beat the leading team in the group, it can be a great plus and impetus at that moment. Congratulations to the lads and let the Stožice Stadium be full also on Monday."
Šporar admitted that the team is a little bit euphoric after the win, but was quick to note that the "win needs to be confirmed on Monday with another three points. If we fail to do this, this win will mean nothing," he added.
Poland are still at the top of Group G with 12 points midway through the qualifiers, followed by Austria with nine. The last two teams in the standings are North Macedonia (5) and Latvia with no points.
STA, 3 September 2019 - Slovenian cycling star Primož Roglič won on Tuesday the tenth stage of the Vuelta a Espana race, the 36.2-km individual time-trial in France's Pau, taking the race leader's red jersey. The 29-year-old has thus become the first Slovenian to have won a stage at all three Grand Tours.
Roglič, who was the top favourite for today's victory, was ahead of his rivals the whole time during the stage, which started in Jurancon and ended in Pau.
The Jumbo-Visma rider was 21 seconds ahead of his fellow countrymen Tadej Pogačar at the first time measurement and 19 seconds ahead of New Zealand's Patrick Bevin, who took second place, estimating his losses to 25 seconds across the line.
"The time trial was difficult and I tried to beat it as quickly as possible. I'm happy about today's performance. I aimed to ride as fast as possible the whole stage and luckily it was enough for the win," Roglič said after his victory.
He gained a lot of advantage over his rivals at the top, having a minute and 52 seconds before the second-placed Spanish rider Alejandro Valverde, and could be another step closer to winning the Spanish Grand Tour.
"We'll see about that in Madrid. I won today, let's take it one step at a time," Roglič told the press.
He is currently also wearing the green jersey, worn by the leader in the points competition.
Pogačar, who was successful at the start of the dynamic time trial, eventually took the 11th place.
This is Roglič's 20th win in the world series, 10th this year, and 8th in time trial stages.
He won two stages at this year's Giro d'Italia, and won four of the six time trials he took part in this year.
The previous owner of the red jersey, Colombian Nairo Quintana, has 3 minutes and 6 seconds in losses behind Roglič.
Roglič has also become the second Slovenian to be wearing the Vuelta red jersey - before him only Janez Brajkovič managed the feat in 2006 and 2013.
September 1, 2019
The Slovenian Open National Hot Air Balloon Championship concluded this Sunday with the last set of 30 tasks 37 pilots from 16 countries had to perform over the competition’s five-day period. The overall winners were Dominic Bareford from Great Britain (gold), John Petrehn form the USA (silver) and Matthew Scaife from Australia in third place, while at the national level of the competition Vito Rome took gold, Jernej Bojanovič silver and Radoš Švagelj bronze.
The area of Pomurje with Murska Sobota as its capital will be hosting the next World Hot Air Balloon Championship between 19 and 26 of September 2020, and this week’s competition served as preparation for this much bigger event, in which 145 balloons and 800 participants are expected to take part.
The World Hot Air Balloon Championship is a biannual event that took place in Brazil in 2014, Japan in 2016 and Austria in 2018.
Pomurje with its lowlands, appropriate temperatures and winds has the ideal geography for ballooning and the organisers are already looking forward to the competition.
When we first heard about Ross Murray-Jones’ plan to swim, cycle and run from Piran to Triglav we had to know more, so we sent some questions that he was kind enough to answer.
Tell us a little bit more about Sea-to-Summit Slovenia. What is it exactly?
Sea-To-Summit Slovenia is a long-distance multisport triathlon from the Adriatic Sea to the highest mountain in the Julian Alps. After months of training and planning, this September, Chris Ryan and I will complete this never-before-attempted endurance challenge in under 24 hours. [ed. Sometime in the first or second week is the current aim, but it all depends on the weather]
Starting from Piran, we’ll paddleboard two-thirds of the Slovenian coastline to Koper before crossing the country by road bike, through the capital Ljubljana and passed world-famous Lake Bled, finishing with a climb to the summit of Triglav at 2,864m.
That sounds tiring. How did you come up with the idea?
In February this year I competed in Red Bull’s Samo Gas ski cross race on Kanin. From Slovenia’s highest ski resort you can see container ships docking at Trieste’s Italian port in the Adriatic, and the journey from sea-to-summit seemed do-able in a day. So I approached the only guy I knew crazy enough to come along with me, Chris, an old friend from London. Over a few beers the original idea escalated quickly to include a sea leg, the peak changed to Triglav and the decision was made to keep within Slovene borders only, adding an extra 100km onto the bike ride. And thus Slovenia’s toughest ever triathlon was born.
Where are you from and have you ever done anything like this before?
Chris and I are both from London originally. We came to Slovenia as part of the launch of a ski tech business and fell in love with this small, charming European country. Slovenia is really a hidden gem and the quality of life is simply incomparable to anywhere else we’ve lived.
We’re both quite sporty and have ticked off a number of Slovenia’s best sports events already, from UTVV100 and the Ljubljana Marathon to IRONMAN 70.3 Slovenian Istria and Red Bull’s infamous Goni Pony. However this new challenge takes us both to the next level: a 24-hour non-stop event.
Twenty-four hours is a long time indeed - how did you train for this challenge and did you pick up any injuries along the way?
The first problem was that although I’d kayaked 1,300km around an island in the Philippines a few years ago, I’d never really paddle boarded before and neither had Chris. Luckily, we teamed up with Slovenia’s SUP race team this summer, Tiki Team, who quickly taught us the basics over weekly training sessions. This was combined with time on the saddle: 100km+ bike rides from Slovenia into Croatia, Italy and Austria and even up to Mangart, Slovenia’s highest road as well as long trail days to the summits of Grintovec, Stol and Triglav.
Fortunately, my weekly appointments with Fizio Tri in Kamnik and regular conditioning sessions with JD Coaching in Ljubljana have kept me injury free thus far. My only serious incident happened recently on a morning bike ride around Vis Island, Croatia when unfortunately I came into contact with a dog and went straight over my handlebars; this has kept me off the bike the last few weeks.
Can you talk me through the various stages of the challenge, and will you take any breaks?
The Sea-To-Summit Slovenia is a multisport triathlon so there are three distinct stages to complete in under 24 hours covering 219km and 4,400m of elevation.
Stage 1: 15km paddleboard from Piran to Koper.
Stage 2: 190km road bike from Koper to Krma. 2,400m of elevation.
Stage 3: 14km trail run/climb from Krma to Triglav. 2,000m of elevation.
The 24-hour deadline is really tight, leaving little margin for error, but we have factored in a 20-minute rest break every three hours to check equipment, stretch, change clothes and take on board solid nutrition as required.
What parts do you expect to be most challenging?
Whatever we have to do in the dark will be tough. After careful consideration, we decided the bike would be our best choice given our relative inexperience on the paddleboard and the inherent dangers of climbing the country’s tallest mountain at night and tired. By starting at midday, we plan to reach Triglav Glacier in low light the next morning before making our summit bid on a rising sun.
Weather, especially wind, will also play a big factor in whether we’re able to finish the challenge in time. To mitigate this concern, we’ve given ourselves a five-day window in early September to minimise the chance of any big waves, crosswinds on the road or unsafe conditions high up on the mountain.
Will you use any special equipment?
A friend of mine is on Bestway’s SUP team and so we’ve both got a Bestway Hydro-Force Fastblast Tech SUP for Stage 1. For Stage 3, our friends over at Hoka One One have also kitted us out with a Speedgoat 3 trail running shoe for Chris and Sky Arkali hiking shoe for me so we have the right footwear for the job. Other than that we have invested in safety equipment such as bike lights, helmets and Personal Flotation Devices alongside various other bits and bobs such as MSR Dynalock Ascent poles and a Quad Lock for my iPhone X to make navigation easier.
Any idea what you’ll eat the day before, and on the day?
We'll likely burn through 20,000 calories so nutrition is definitely ‘Stage 4’, an absolutely key part of the challenge to prevent bonking (the curse of any endurance athlete).
We’ve devised a custom nutrition plan which starts 48 hours prior with spaghetti bolognese. The night before is an opportunity to carb up an extra 2,000+ calories with a large pepperoni pizza, and on the morning of the event, two eggs on brown bread with butter and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a banana and coffee should get us going. Delicious!
On the day, we'll drink just under a litre per hour on average mixed with electrolytes to maintain salt and mineral levels and then consume on-the-go snacks every 45 minutes, such as potica. It’s important to eat proper food too, so we’ll stop for Štruklji or prosciutto, pickles and cheese sandwiches at predetermined locations. And just in case, we’ll load up the support van with extras we might crave such as Red Bull, Calipo’s and salty olives!
So you’ll have people following you?
Yes, we'll have a support crew consisting of our very understanding partners to help us along the way. Without them, the challenge would simply be impossible from a logistical perspective given the need to switch equipment multiple times and take on nutrition in the dead of night.
At this point I should probably ask why are you doing this?
Chris and I really wanted to showcase the beauty and diversity of this country we’ve grown very fond of. Over the course of 24 hours, we’ll go from sparkling sand and blue waters through to medieval towns and glacial lakes before finishing up in the snowy peaks of the southern alps. Slovenia is really one of Europe’s leading outdoor adventure destinations and we wanted to highlight this in our own unique way.
More personally, I find pushing my limits gives me a deep sense of purpose and satisfaction. Success in life requires passion, grit and determination, and Sea-To-Summit embodies all of these aspects in one. And if we can inspire even just one person that it’s possible for ordinary people to do extraordinary things than that would be great too.
Finally, what’s the worst thing about living in Slovenia, and what’s the best?
The best is definitely the quality of life. The country itself packs a real punch in terms of its beauty, safety and kindness of locals. Moreover, within two hours you can be sailing in Croatia, skiing in Austria or eating a pizza in Italy. It’s incredibly diverse. And the worst has to be that Slovene is a very difficult language to learn and there unfortunately isn't a huge amount of material available to help. No Duolingo for now! Luckily, most Slovenes are very proficient in English. In fact, I’d even say some Slovenians knowledge of English would put us lot back in Britain to shame.
STA, 24 August 2019 - The Slovenian pair of Špela Ponomarenko Janić and Anja Osterman won the bronze medal in the women's 500m event at the ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships in Hungary's Szeged on Saturday, which comes after Friday's silver in the 200m event.
The medal for Ponomarenko Janić and Osterman means that the pair have earned a berth for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics by virtue of finishing in the top six.
The Slovenians made it to the finals after posting the fastest time in the semi-finals, but had to concede to the Belarusian and Polish pairs in the final, who finished first and second, respectively.
Ponomarenko Janić and Osterman finished 1.66 second behind the winning boat and 0.87 seconds behind the second-placed Poland.
This is their third medal together at world championships, coming after yesterday's silver in the 200m event and the bronze in the 500m event in Račice, the Czech Republic, in 2017.
For Ponomarenko Janić, the fourth placed canoeist in the women's individual 200m at the 2016 Rio Olympics, this is the sixth medal at world championships.