Sport

26 May 2022, 11:50 AM

STA, 26 May 2022 - The ongoing Giro d'Italia bicycle race will swerve into Slovenia for the second year in a row on Friday in a spectacle that is again expected to attract thousands of Slovenian fans.

While this year's Giro does not feature the world's no. 1 and no. 3 cyclists at present Tadej Pogačar and Primož Roglič, the 19th stage will be among the crucial ones for the final classification.

Stretching across 177 kilometres from Marano Lagunare on the Adriatic Sea and a mountain finish at Santuario di Castelmonte, the stage has several hilly sections and includes a 37-kilometre Slovenian stretch in the Soča river valley.

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Image: www.soca-valley.com

The stretch notably features a 10.3-km climb up Mt. Kobarid. It involves 950 vertical meters with an average incline of 9.2% and is considered one of the toughest in this year's Giro.

The riders will enter Slovenia after 101.1 kilometres at the Uccea/Učja border crossing, from where they will head to Kobarid and then slowly and surely up Mt. Kobarid. They will leave Slovenia after the descent from Mt. Kobarid.

Although the only remaining Slovenian participant in the race is Domen Novak, who is confined to the role of helper in the Bahrain-Victorious team, organisers again expect a massive turnout by Slovenian fans.

Last year as many as 50,000 cheered on the riders in Slovenia despite Covid-19 restrictions. Around 30,000 are expected this year due to route changes.

23 May 2022, 10:18 AM

STA, 23 May - Maribor defeated the defending champions Mura 3:1 in Murska Sobota on Sunday to claim their 16th national championship title. They turned the things around in the last round, leapfrogging Koper, who played a goalless draw with Bravo in Ljubljana. The conclusion of the premier league did not go without some controversy, though.

Maribor finished the 36-round premier league competition with 70 points, three more than Koper, who had been looking at what would be their second national championship title ever.

The perennial champions from Slovenia's second city had a turbulent season. They replaced the head coach last September, with Radovan Karanović taking over to try to make some separation from Koper, who were neck-and-neck with Maribor all the time.

Two rounds before the end, Koper were on top of the rankings, but after winning the national cup, they slipped against Radomlje in the penultimate round to open the path for Maribor to win the record 16th Slovenian champions title.

Maribor scored on the chance by defeating the defending champions Mura on the road yesterday. "I always believed that we could be champions because I believed in what we have been doing," head coach Karanović told Šport TV after the win.

He noted that the players had shown the will for success. "I congratulate all the lads and the entire Maribor for returning where it belongs," he said, admitting that he was not happy with the parity of the league as fans were.

"The season was really even until the end, that's fine for the fans, but not especially for us, to be honest with you," said the coach. who is signed until 2024 and whose goal is to take Maribor to one of the European club competitions.

Maribor will now play in the first round of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League, and will get their opponent on 14 June.

Koper will play in the second qualifying round of the third-tier Conference League, while Olimpija, who did not manage to come to the top even after the arrival of Croatian head coach Robert Prosinečki, and Mura playing in the first round.

"Maribor has to take a step forward, as other teams are catching up. I congratulate Koper for everything they have done, but we will really have to take a step forward," Karanović said.

Koper, on the other hand, are disappointed with the outcome, with the club president Ante Guberac raising controversy and calling for an investigation by the Slovenian Football Association (NZS).

There are allegations that Maribor had offered financial incentives to Radomlje players and that they offered a contract to the suspended Mura goalkeeper Marko Zalokar ahead of the last round.

"It is us who are the champions! What Maribor has been doing in recent weeks has tarnished the league, I've lost my respect for Maribor," Guberac told the MMC portal, adding that the club will challenge the final outcome of the championship.

Forward Ognjen Mudrinski (Maribor), who scored 17 goals, has been declared the best player of the season, while Zoran Zeljković of Koper was declared the best head coach.

I'm thankful to my teammates, because I wouldn't have scored all those goals without their assists," said Mudrinski, whose further career in Maribor is under question mark, because he plays on loan from the Polish side Jagiellonia Bialystok.

22 May 2022, 18:31 PM

STA, 22 May 2022 - Slovenian kayaker Anja Osterman won Sunday's flatwater 200-metre sprint World Cup event in Račice, Czech Republic, after finishing second in the 500-metre event yesterday, the first race of the World Cup season. Špela Ponomarenko Janić finishing third today. Dominika Putto from Poland was second.

"In October, when I decided for individual events my biggest fan, my father, had doubts. He was sceptical and said to myself I will prove him wrong. On Saturday, he admitted that these events are something else after all. But it's important that I've proven to myself too that I can do it," said Osterman, who previously competed in doubles competition with Špela Ponomarenko Janić, with whom she won the European title and silver medal at the World Championship in the 200m event.

"Of course I didn't believe I'd start the season with the first and second places, so the joy is that much bigger," she added.

Commenting on today's event, she said it had been less stressful than yesterday. "At 500 metres you have 1.50 minutes of pain, but here it's easier as by the time the pain really starts you're almost in the finish line."

She said she was particularly glad she could share the podium with Ponomarenko Janić, with whom she parted ways after last year's disappointing performance at the Tokyo Olympics, where they capsized just before the finish line.

"It's like old times, when we stood on the podium together," she said.

Ponomarenko Janić said she had not expected a medal. "I'd need a bit more practice, so I didn't count on anything more than the finals," she said, adding that she got more and more confident with each event, so she managed this excellent result. "The boat ran well ... I'm very happy."

Slovenia's success at the World Cup was rounded off with kayker Jošt Zakrajšek's bronze at a 5-kilometre event. "I was behind at first, but I remained calm. Everything was opening up until the first turn, I was making progress without energy consumption, and the rest of the race was surprisingly easy," he said.

He also thanked to Osterman and Ponomarenko Janić, who he said had been his inspiration for a while.

06 May 2022, 16:13 PM

STA, 6 May 2022 - The Ultra Trail Vipava Valley (UTVV) endurance running event is staring in Ajdovščina today. This year, a record 1,400 runners from 32 countries have registered, making UTVV I Feel Slovenia the leading trail running event in the country. The participants will be in this picturesque valley in south-western Slovenia until Sunday.

Six distances are available to the runners - the Emperor route is 170 kilometres long and takes the athletes across 7,700 vertical metres, the Centurion features 107 kilometres and 5,500 vertical metres, while runners can also choose between 54, 30 and 13 km routes.

The competitors' escorts and hikers will meanwhile be able to take things slowly on an eight-kilometre-long Obelix Hike and Wine tour on Sunday.

The longest route is expected to take the runners around 46 hours. They will start in the town of Ajdovščina, with the route taking them through the Trnovo Plateau to Nova Gorica and Gorizia, along the southern slopes of the Vipava Valley to Podnanos, where they will climb Mt. Nanos and then head back to the town of Vipava.

By participating in the ultra-marathon, the neighbouring municipalities of Nova Gorica and the Italy's Gorizia will mark the start of preparations for the European Capital of Culture, which they will host jointly in 2025.

The first Ultra Trail Vipava Valley event was held in 2015, when 415 runners from five countries took part. Four years later, 1,050 runners from 30 countries registered for the event, and now the number is expected to exceed 1,400.

UTVV Slovenia is also part of the Alpe Adria Trail Cup running league and is one of nine major running events in Central Europe.

17 Apr 2022, 19:18 PM

STA, 16 April 2022 - Ukraine's national football team will be getting ready for the last match of the European part of qualifications for this year's World Cup in Qatar in Slovenia, the sport channel Sportklub reported on Saturday.

The team will be training at Brdo pri Kranju, a new modern hub of the Slovenian Football Association (NZS) and Slovenia's national team which was inaugurated in 2016.

Ukraine will play Scotland in the semi-finals on 1 June, and the winner will play Wales on 5 June to get the last European ticket for the World Cup.

The Ukraine-Scotland match was to be played in March but was postponed by three months because of the war in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian team will start training sessions in Slovenia on 29 April, and could also play same friendly matches.

Sportklub also said that Ukrainian Football Federation head Andriy Pavelko tanked Slovenian football partners, including NZS president Radenko Mijatović and UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin, for helping the Ukrainian team in overcoming the problems resulting from the war.

14 Apr 2022, 13:09 PM

STA, 13 April 2022 - The Tour of Slovenia (Dirka po Sloveniji), the largest road cycling race in the country, will see its 28th iteration in mid-June, this time with live spectators. Running for almost 800 kilometres, the five-stage race will again attract the greatest names in the sport, including the top-ranked cyclist in the world, Slovenia's Tadej Pogačar.

The organisers have announced a technically demanding race, which is in a way becoming a national cycling holiday given that Slovenia currently has three cyclists among the world's top 5.

"You can see that Slovenians have adopted this race as their own, so a strong positive national charge is expected," Tour of Slovenia director Bogdan Fink told the press on Wednesday.

The race around Slovenia is being increasingly promoted as a warm-up race for the Tour de France, which is evident from the names of competitors who registered. Four teams from the elite class are expected among the 22 teams that will take part.

Fink promised a route for an "exceptionally watchable race", adding that the "stages are set for up to four hours of racing, speeds will be high, and everybody will get their opportunity along the route."

The five-day race will start on 15 June in Nova Gorica, with the first stage ending in Postojna. The second stage will take the competitors from Ptuj to Rogaška Slatina, and the third stage from Žalec to Celje, featuring a key climb.

On the fourth day, 18 June, the caravan will run from Laško to the Velika Planina plateau, passing Pogačar's native village of Klanec, while the last stage will take the cyclists from Vrhnika to Novo Mesto.

While the race will be an opportunity to prove who is the best ahead of the Tour de France, the organisers also expect that Slovenia would be promoted as a good host of international sporting events and a green tourist destination.

In addition to the public broadcaster RTV Slovenija, the race will again be broadcast live by the international sports network Eurosport for a total of ten hours. The live broadcast will be available in 130 countries.

11 Apr 2022, 15:14 PM

STA, 10 April 2022 - Olympic gold medallist Janja Garnbret has opened the climbing season with a convincing victory in bouldering in Meiringen, a record 32nd World Cup win for the 23-year-old.

The only one to have climbed all 13 boulders, Garnbret said after the win last night that this was a privilege because "every event is a story onto itself. If you win all the events in the previous season, this does not mean you will win them all this season."

The world's dominant climber for the past several season, Garnbret made only a short appearance on the World Cup circuit. She has decided to leave out the next four bouldering events and will return to the World Cup in June, when the lead competition gets under way.

"I plan to compete in all lead events, including the European Championships in Munich in August. This is my main goal this season," she said.

This is a strategic decision with an eye on the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, where a new combined event will be on the schedule. In Tokyo Garnbret won the speed-boulder-lead combination, in Paris the combination will be lead-boulder.

"You have to choose wisely which events to compete in this year and next. I want to be the real Janja in Paris, 100% prepared and motivated," she said.

05 Apr 2022, 15:10 PM

STA, 4 April 2022 - Slovenia's best professional golfer, 18-year-old Pia Babnik, has set a new milestone by taking third place in the first major tournament of the season, the Chevron Championship in California, US. This is by far the best result any Slovenian golfer has ever achieved. She now ranks among the world's top 50 female golfers.

Babnik finished the four-day tournament with a prize money of five million dollars at 11 under par to finish behind two Americans, Jennifer Kupcho (-14) and Jessica Korda (-12).

Having entered the event ranked 109th in the world, she has now climbed to 43rd place in the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings in what is a career milestone for her.

The third place brought her 334,972 dollars (about EUR 303,100) and 40 points for the rankings, more than she has won in any of the tournaments in her two-year professional career.

Given the eligibility requirements for the remaining two majors in the US, 43rd place means she will be eligible to play in all five majors this season. This feat also gives her the lead in the European rankings for the 2023 Solheim Cup, the biennial competition between Europe and the US.

"I'm exceptionally pleased. This is truly a great achievement since this is my first major in the US. I enjoyed the game, found good ways out of difficult situations and finished the tournament in style," Babnik told the STA.

"This success opens the door wide for me to the largest tournaments in the world."

This was Babnik's third appearance at a major tournament. She will now take a short break from golfing to focus on school. Her next tournament will be a European Series event in Madrid in May.

27 Mar 2022, 18:17 PM

STA, 27 March 2022 - Marius Lindvik of Norway is the winner of the last Ski Jumping World Cup event of the season in Slovenia's Planica on Sunday, while Ryoyu Kobayashi of Japan finished 8th to secure his overall win in the World Cup. Slovenia's Žiga Jelar was 6th, enough for him to win the small crystal globe for the best ski flyer of the season.

 Lindvik scored 455.1 points in the two runs to win the last event of the season in front of some 12,500 spectators, followed by Yukiya Sato of Japan (446.8) and Slovenia's Peter Prevc (438.6).

This was the third podium finish for the Slovenian team captain Prevc in as many events at Planica this weekend. "The last event was really exceptional, all lads were jumping very far," he told the national broadcaster TV Slovenija.

Four other Slovenians followed Prevc in the 4th to 7th place - Timi Zajc was fourth with 437.2 points and Anže Lanišek (435.7), who scored his personal best of 244.5 metres, was fifth.

Žiga Jelar (435.2), who won the small crystal globe for the best ski flyer of the season, was sixth and Cene Prevc (425.4), who also scored his personal best and today's best jump of 246 metres, was seventh.

Ryoyu Kobayashi of Japan finished 8th to secure the large crystal globe for the overall winner in the World Cup (1,621 points), defending his title from the previous season. Karl Geiger of Germany (1,515) finished second.

Jelar, who was followed in the overall ski flying standings by his compatriot Timi Zajc, said that "I'm probably still not aware of what we've managed to accomplish, but I'm grateful to be a part of this team."

In the Nations Cup, Slovenia finished second, behind the Austrians, who scored 47 more points than Slovenia overall to earn their first Nations Cup win in the last eight years.

"We've finished 47 points short, so we will have to start collecting points earlier next time if we want more. We've shown some excellent jumps, great form lately. I hope that next year all of us will raise it to another level," said Lanišek.

The 2021/22 season was the first in history in which three Slovenians finished in the top 10 overall - Lanišek was seventh (936 points), Zajc eighth (711 points) and Cene Prevc tenth (657).

* Results of Sunday's World Cup event at Planica:
 1 Marius Lindvik (NOR)        455.1 pts (241.5/245.5)
 2 Yukiya Sato (JAP)           446.8 (236.5/242.5)
 3 Peter Prevc (SLO)           438.6 (235.5/240.0)
 4 Timi Zajc (SLO)             437.2 (233.0/240.0)
 5 Anže Lanišek (SLO)          435.7 (231.0/244.5)
 6 Žiga Jelar (SLO)            435.2 (239.0/232.0)
 7 Cene Prevc (SLO)            425.4 (241.0/246.0)
 8 Ryoyu Kobayashi (JAP)       423.7 (235.5/230.5)
 9 Dawid Kubacki (POL)         422.5 (231.0/235.0)
10 Michael Hayböck (AUT)       421.7 (226.0/244.5)
...
20 Lovro Kos (SLO)             389.4 (219.5/227.0)

* Overall standings in the 2021/22 season (28 events):
 1 Ryoyu Kobayashi (JAP)       1,621
 2 Karl Geiger (GER)           1,515
 3 Marius Lindvik (NOR)        1,231
 4 Halvor Egner Granerud (NOR) 1,227
 5 Stefan Kraft (AUT)          1,069
 6 Markus Eisenbichler (GER)     950
 7 Anže Lanišek (SLO)            936
 8 Timi Zajc (SLO)               711
 9 Jan Hörl (AUT)                662
10 Cene Prevc (SLO)              657

* Nations Cup in the 2021/22 season (28 events):
 1 Austria         5,789
 2 Slovenia        5,742
 3 Germany         5,389
 4 Norway          5,360
 5 Japan           4,077
 6 Poland          2,321
 7 Switzerland       881
 8 Russia            684
26 Mar 2022, 07:07 AM

STA, 25 March - Slovenian ski jumpers swept the podium in the first individual event of the World Cup season finale on Friday, as Žiga Jelar won the event ahead of Peter Prevc and Anže Lanišek. And this is not all - Slovenia's Timi Zajc was fourth to round off the complete domination of the home team in front of the capacity crowd at Planica.

Jelar, who also had the longest jump of the event, at 239 metres in the second run, scored 468.2 points for his first career World Cup win and his third podium finish, followed by Prevc (464.8 points), Lanišek (458.5) and Zajc (454.8).

The 24-year-old also took over the overall lead in the ski flying standings, with a 20-point advantage ahead of Zajc and a 30-point advantage ahead of the world record holder, Stefan Kraft of Austria, who was 6th today (450.3 points).

Four other Slovenians made it to the second run featuring the top 30 jumpers in the first run, with Domen Prevc being the best among them with 443.5 points and the 7th place.

The last time that the first four competitors at a Ski Jumping World Cup even were from the same country happened on 20 January 1980, when Austrians took the first for spots in Thunder Bay.

"What can I say? I proved to everyone that I really am a fighter. After various comments that I was looking for excuses ... here I stand in Planica. Exceptional, really," Jelar told the national broadcaster TV Slovenija.

The win for Jelar comes after a very difficult season, in which he had a long recovery from severe symptoms of Covid-19, and in which he failed to make it to the Slovenian team for the Winter Olympics in Beijing.

The World Cup season finale at Planica will continue on Saturday with a team event and conclude on Sunday with an individual event featuring the top 30 jumpers in the overall standings.

* Results of the Ski Jumping World Cup event at Planica:
 1 Žiga Jelar (SLO)              468.2 points (232.0 m/239.0)
 2 Peter Prevc (SLO)             464.8        (226.0/237.0)
 3 Anže Lanišek (SLO)            458.5        (230.0/230.5)
 4 Timi Zajc (SLO)               454.8        (228.0/224.0)
 5 Ryoyu Kobayashi (JAP)         452.8        (223.5/237.0)
 6 Stefan Kraft (AUT)            450.3        (222.0/228.5)
 7 Domen Prevc (SLO)             443.5        (234.5/220.0)
 8 Yukiya Sato (JAP)             442.9        (231.5/238.5)
 9 Halvor Egner Granerud (NOR)   442.2        (229.5/234.5)
10 Manuel Fettner (AUT)          441.8        (227.0/231.0)
...
16 Anže Semenič (SLO)            429.4        (219.0/231.0)
22 Bor Pavlovčič (SLO)           416.7        (221.5/210.0)
27 Lovro Kos (SLO)               407.1        (215.0/227.5)
29 Cene Prevc (Slo)              388.6        (214.5/219.0)
...

* Overall standings (27/28):
 1 Ryoyu Kobayashi (JAP)       1,589 points
 2 Karl Geiger (GER)           1,500
 3 Halvor Egner Granerud (NOR) 1,205
 4 Marius Lindvik (NOR)        1,131
 5 Stefan Kraft (AUT)          1,045
 6 Markus Eisenbichler (GER)     943
 7 Anže Lanišek (SLO)            891
 8 Timi Zajc (SLO)               661
 9 Jan Hörl (AUT)                652
10 Cene Prevc (SLO)              621
23 Mar 2022, 10:47 AM

STA, 22 March 2022 - Legendary Croatian footballer and manager Robert Prosinečki has officially taken over as the new coach of Ljubljana's biggest football club Olimpija, as confirmed by the club on Tuesday. During his playing career, Prosinečki was member of some of the greatest clubs in world football.

"After a series of unconvincing performances and results, Olimpija Ljubljana decided for a change on the bench. Now we can present the new coach to the public with utmost pride and satisfaction," the football club said in a press release.

"It is not every day that such a great football name comes to Slovenia. We had the opportunity, and we took it," added representatives of Olimpija.

Robert Prosinečki is widely regarded as one of the best players in Croatia's football history, being one of the few footballers to have played for the largest clubs and rivals in Spain, Real Madrid and FC Barcelona.

During his successful career that spanned almost 20 years, Prosinečki also played for Sevilla, Standard Liège, Portsmouth, Dinamo Zagreb and Red Star Belgrade. He also represented Croatia at Euro 1996 and two World Cups, in 1998 and 2002.

It was at the 1998 World Cup that Prosinečki and the Croatian squad managed a historic third-place finish, with Prosinečki scoring two goals. As a result, he is the only player in history to score goals at the World Cup for two different national teams, as he also scored for Yugoslavia in 1990.

Towards the end of his playing career, Prosinečki enjoyed a short spell at Olimpija Ljubljana, where he won the Slovenian national cup trophy in 2003. That was his last trophy as a player, and he scored a goal in the final.

Prosinečki now returns to Olimpija as a manager, having previously led Red Star Belgrade, three Turkish clubs, and Bosnia-Herzegovina's national team, among others. He has signed a contract until the end of the 2023/24 season.

Prosinečki will be introduced to the public in his new role at a press conference on Wednesday. After that, he will lead the team in his first training session, while the opening match awaits him on 3 April, after the international break.

In his first statement, the new coach said that "it is really nice to be back in Ljubljana. The feeling is very good, I'm coming to a club I know well. I also know Ljubljana well and I'm really looking forward to the adventure ahead of me."

Prosinečki has very fond memories of Olimpija. "We played good football ... and I made some very good friends. It is because of them that I kept returning to Ljubljana many times," he told the website of Olimpija Ljubljana.

"Olimpija is a club that always has great, high ambition, and my vision corresponds to this. I want to see a team at work that will play offensive-minded, likeable and successful football. A team that will dominate the pitch."

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