A land of sport enthusiasts
14. September, 2020

A land of sport enthusiasts

This is blog post dedicated to the nation of 2 million people that boasts a bunch of top-notch sportspersons
Despite our small size, both teritory or population-wise, Slovenia is considered one of the best countries to raise athletes. Slovenians are closely connected with sport. This blog post will provide you a brief insight of what Slovenians are made of. Regardless of the sport discipline, you find a Slovenian dominating in one. Sometimes the stranger the discipline, the better results are achieved. We have published a blog post on education in Slovenia – if you read it you can quickly realyse that one thing is for sure – unlike in the USA, sport clubs are separated from the education system (high school, colleage, etc) and are also many times organized by voulenteering parents who would like to engage their kids to either professional or recreational sport.
Geographically, Slovenia is a very diverse country. We have everything that big countries have. From high Alps, Pannonian plain, dinaric karst to Mediterranean sea. Hence, only the sky is the limit when choosing the sport you like to participate in. Are we a skiing nation? Yes, we are. Does every Slovene swim? Yes. What do kids play outside? Football (European kind 🙈) or basketball. Do we climb? The only real answer here is: who doesn’t?
With the amount of active population, it is not surprising that we excel at sport – every now and then a true star is born.
We have put together a list of Slovenian athletes with remarkable achievement. That be as a member of team sport or in an individual sport. And these women and men are responsible for the greatest recognition of our country. Well, apart from the most famous botanist who was commisioned to redesign the White House. Disclaimer, the list of successful athletes, Olympian medalist, world champions, etc, is too long to list them all. If you are interested in specific field/discipline, let us know and we will be glad to write in-depth post on that.

Cycling

Me personally being a cycling buff, will start with cycling.
Primož Roglič is a former ski jumper-turned-professional cyclist, that in 2019 won famous spanish La Vuelta race. To add some more results to Primož’s CV, he won Tour de France – Stage 4, became National champion 2020, and we can see him perform very well on this year’s Tour de France. Just turn on the TV and find your favourite sport channel.
It would be unfair not to mention Tadej Pogačar, Primož’s competitor. Tadej is currently riding for UAE-Team Emirates and at only 21 years old he shows big potential. Just recently he broke a record – being the fastest »climber« on Col de Peyresourde, he improved a record from 2003 for 45 seconds. You will hear about this kid in years to come.
But drifting a few years back, Americans could hear about a Slovenian rider who made Lance Armstrong look like an old grandpa. Jure Robič won the nutorious RAAM (Race Across America), an ultra-distance road cycling race from West to the East coast of the States in one go. Not once, but 5 times. Sadly, Jure passed away in an accident 10 years ago by colliding with a car in his hometown Jesenice.
Update Sep 14th: on September 13th, Pogačar has won Stage 9, while Roglič retains yellow jersey. 😲

Ice Hockey

Another true gem from the same town of Jesenice, probably the most known Slovenian before Melania set a foot to the White House, is Anže Kopitar. Many have tried, but only one of them really succeeded. Anže became the best Slovenian to succeed in the NHL. He joined Los Angeles Kings in 2006 and he plays fort he same team ever since. So far he won 2 Stanley Cups and rescpectfully became LA Kings captian. To honour his work, local fans from his hometown have renamed the town to »Kopiwood«. Can you notice correlation between Los Angeles – Hollywood – Kopiwood? 😂

Basketball

In the light of recent Corona virus, we will talk about the famous bubble. Disney World in Orlando has been turned into a protected haven for NBA players. Due to COVID-19 pandemic, regular 2019/2020 season has been suspended and later resumed in the 2020 NBA Bubble. This is where 2 of the best Slovenian players have shown how to ball. Goran Dragić aka The Dragon 🐉 – a basketball player that entered NBA in 2008. He played for Phoenix Suns and Houston Rockets before he joined the Miam Heat in 2015, and was named an NBA All-Star in 2018.
Wunderkind, global sensation, Luka Magic, LOO-kuh DON-chitch or as his parents call him, Luka Dončić is someone you should pay attention to. Luka joined Dallas Mavericks team in 2018 and instantly became a huge hit. Same year (first year in the NBA) he was selected to the NBA All-Rookie First Team and won Rookie of the Year. Oh, did we mention he was selected to his first NBA All-Star game. Both Luka and Goran have led Slovenian national team to its first FIBA Eurobasket (European Champioship) title in 2017. And Luka is only 21 👀

Skiing

It is expected that every Slovenian knows how to ski. Come on, we have mountains, covered in snow throughout winter and we do love this sport. Older generations will remember 1984 Olympic games in Sarajevo, former Yugoslavia, where Slovenian-born Jure Franko won silver medal in giant slalom. A bunch of great skiers represented Yugoslavia and after ’91 Slovenia, but there was one skier that really stands out.
Tina Maze is an alpine skier whose four Olympic medals (two gold and two silver) made her the most sucessful winter Olympian in the history of independent Slovenia. Tina broke the record for points in a World Cup 2013 season and became only the third woman to win a race in all five disciplines in a single season. That season she secured 2,024 points in the overall standings. The Austrian skier Hermann Maier held the record of 2,000 points on the men’s side. She retired from professional sport in 2017.
Another super woman, downhill daredevil, Ilka Štuhec is another super fast skier we need to mention. This 29 year old DH and super-G skier was the world champion in downhill in 2017 and 2019. Unlike Tina, Ilka has suffered several injuries, a severe one in 2019 downhill crash but did not give up yet and we are looking forward to seeing her race.

Cross-country Skiing

If we carry on with winter sport and female representatives, Petra Majdič is the next one on the list. Petra was a professional cross-country skier, that won 24 World Cup races. In 2010 Winter Olympics she was one of the favourites for the medal. In a freeky bit of bad luck, she fell during the warm-up race and broke four ribs. That did not stop her. No, she made it to the semifinals, where one of the broken ribs punctured her lung. That’s enought to stop, right? A-a, Petra made it through the finnish line, winning Olympic bronze medal with 4 broken ribs, punctured lung and pheumotorax. Ever since, she is known to be the only person to continue where even Chuck Norris can’t.

Climbing

Last but not least in the Ladies club, is Janja Garnbret. Janja is a young profilic climber, multiple world champion climber. She was named Athlet of the Year in 2018 by Slovenian Sports Journalist Association.In 2019 she won the Bouldering World Cup and she became the World Champion in both Bouldering and Difficulty climbing. No wonder the famous energy drink company RedBull included her on a roster of their ambassadors.

Ski Jumping / Ski Flying

We know some of the RedBull athletes are fearless. You know that, right? But we have some athletes in Slovenia that don’t drink Red Bull, yet they are out of this world.
Peter Prevc, slovenian ski jumper, an eagle. Peter is considered one of the most sucessful contemporary athletes, having won the 2016 Ski Jumping World Cup overall title and two Olympic medals in 2014. If you don’t know anything about this sport, I am pretty sure you have seen a glimpse of the legendary American TV show – Wide World of Sports by Jim McKay saying the phrase “the thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat. Having the biggest ski jump in the world, the conditions for practice are favourable and we really are topping those charts.

Mountaineering

Gozdni Joža (akin to Hillbilly), Tomaž Humar was a mountianeer who completed 1500 ascents, 70 of them first ascents at home and abroad. Tomaž climbed Dhaulagiri in Nepal, the most difficult face of his carrier, solo, alpine-style. In 2000 he fell backwards into a hole while building house, breaking both legs. Another Chuck Norris-style recovery, especially since doctors were certain he will never walk again, he decided to climb and set new milestones. He climbed Nanga Parbat in 2005 but he was unable to descend from the mounain. He was trapped on the mountain for 6 days until a helicopter saved him in a very dangerous rescue mission. He continued climbing in the following years and unfortunately lost his life during 2009 solo ascent on Langtang Lirung in the Nepal Himalaya.
Another mountain buff is a man who became the first person to make a complete ski descent from the Seven Summits (the highest mountains on each of the seven continents), making the first ever complete descent of Mount Everest on October 7, 2000. A Slovenian adventurer Davo Krničar needed less than five hours to ski 3500 metres (12000 feet) from the summit of Everest to its base camp. Davo — who after Everest made similarly uninterrupted ski descents from the highest peaks on the other six continents — died on Sept. 16 2019 in a tree-cutting accident on his property in Jezersko, Slovenia. He was 56.
There are many more individuals and teams that have achieved remarkable success in their field. For example Slovenian national volleyball team, national handball team, etc. This post would be too long if we wanted to mention them all. Or at least most of them. But as mentioned above, we still have a lot of material to write about Slovenian sport achievements, so if you are particularly interrested in a specific discipline, feel free to leave a comment or send us an email and we will write a blog post about it.

Want to know more about Slovenia and its athletes? Contact us!

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