Sport in Slovenia
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The most popular team sports in Slovenia are association football, basketball, ice hockey, handball and skiing. Individual sports such as athletics, cycling, and tennis are also popular. Slovenia has competed in eleven summer and winter Olympic Games. It is also famous for its athletes, such as ultramarathon swimmer Martin Strel and Davo Karničar, the only person to ski down Mount Everest.
- 1 Team sports
- 2 Individual sports
- 2.1 Alpine skiing
- 2.2 Ski jumping
- 2.3 Cross-country skiing
- 2.4 Biathlon
- 2.5 Athletics
- 2.6 Cycling
- 2.7 Motorsport
- 2.8 Fencing
- 2.9 Gymnastics
- 2.10 Judo
- 2.11 Sailing
- 2.12 Standup paddleboarding
- 2.13 Shooting
- 2.14 Snowboarding
- 2.15 Swimming
- 2.16 Tennis
- 2.17 Canoeing-kayaking
- 2.18 Mountain climbing
- 2.19 Rowing
- 3 Olympics
- 4 Mediterranean Games
- 5 References
The highest level in Slovenian football is the Slovenian PrvaLiga (1. SNL), with 10 teams. The Slovenia national football team have qualified for two FIFA World Cups (2002 and 2010) and one UEFA European Football Championship (2000). The Slovenian team qualified for the 2010 FIFA World Cup by upsetting heavily favored Russia in the qualifying tournament. The team played in the Group C with England, Algeria, and the United States. Slovene football stars include Samir Handanović, Robert Koren, Milivoje Novaković, Josip Iličić, Tim Matavž, Jan Oblak and Valter Birsa. Past stars include Brane Oblak, Danilo Popivoda, Srečko Katanec, Džoni Novak and Zlatko Zahovič.
The highest level of Slovene basketball is the Premier A Slovenian Basketball League, with 12 teams. The Slovenian national basketball team has qualified for eleven Eurobaskets, including a fourth place finish in 2009, and three FIBA World Championships in 2006, 2010 and 2014. Famous Slovene basketball players include Goran Dragić, Zoran Dragić, Sasha Vujačić, Radoslav Nesterović, Beno Udrih, Matjaž Smodiš, Marko Milič, Ivo Daneu, Peter Vilfan, Vinko Jelovac, Aljoša Žorga, Primož Brezec, Sani Bečirović and Jaka Lakovič.
The Slovenian Ice Hockey Championship is the highest level ice hockey league in the country. The Slovenia men's national ice hockey team has qualified for five Ice Hockey World Championships. One of Slovenia's most famous athletes is Anže Kopitar, who plays in the United States for the Los Angeles Kings of the National Hockey League. His €34.7 million (USD $47.6 million), seven-year contract is the largest contract held by any Slovene athlete. He became first Slovenian to win the Stanley Cup in 2012 with the Los Angeles Kings, while being tied for the top scorer of the playoffs. Other famous Slovene hockey players include Robert Kristan, Jan Muršak, David Rodman and Marcel Rodman, Rok Tičar, Žiga Pance, Žiga Jeglič, Tomaž Vnuk, Dejan Kontrec and Bojan Zajc.
Handball is a very popular sport in Slovenia. Slovenia has played at six handball world championships and was ranked fourth at the 2013 championships in Spain. Slovenia has played nine times at the European handball championships. The team was the runner-up at the 2004 championship held in Slovenia.
Slovenian club RK Celje won the Champions League in 2004, beating Flensburg in the final. They also played six times in a row in the Champions League semi-finals. Other famous Slovenian teams are RD Slovan (1980 Champions Cup finalists), RK Gorenje and RK Koper.
Rugby union is a growing sport in Slovenia, and they are currently ranked 43rd by the IRB. The governing body is Rugby Zveza Slovenije (Rugby Union of Slovenia). Slovenia borders Italy, which is a major rugby playing nation. In recent years, however, there have been serious attempts by Australian Football to expand into the Balkans, using substantial financial incentives, and expats from Australia. There are many active clubs with the main ones being RAK Olimpija, RFC Bezigrad and RK Ljubljana.
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Alpine skiing is very popular in Slovenia. Skis were known since the 17th century and modern competitive skiing started from twenties onwards. During the time of Yugoslavia national skiing squad was made almost exclusevly of Slovenes and World Cup races started in Podkoren in 1961. Today Slovenia hosts FIS Alpine Ski World Cup in Kranjska Gora and Maribor each season. Mateja Svet and Jure Franko won olympic medals for Yugoslavia, while Jure Košir, Katja Koren, Alenka Dovžan and Tina Maze did the same after the independence. Other past skiing stars include Boris Strel, Rok Petrovič, Bojan Križaj, Mitja Kunc, Urška Hrovat, Špela Pretnar and Nataša Bokal.
Ski jumping is another popular winter sport. The first national championship was held in 1921 in Bohinj, when Joža Pogačar won with 9 metre jump. After that many ski jumpers had great success for Yugoslavia, with Jože Šlibar making a world record jump in 1961. After the introduction of FIS Ski Jumping World Cup in 1979 SR Slovenia was a regular host of matches in Planica, while the most successful jumper in the period was Primož Ulaga with 9 wins for Yugoslavia. In 1997 and 1998 Primož Peterka won two World Cups, while other stars include Jaka Hvala, Peter Prevc, Jurij Tepeš, Robert Kranjec, Rok Benkovič, Jernej Damjan, Peter Žonta, Franci Petek and Špela Rogelj.
Cross-country skiing has, along with alpine skiing and ski jumping, long tradition in Slovenia, but all the major competitive results came in tha last years. During the time of Yugoslavia best result was Franc Smolej's 10th place at 1936 Winter Olympics. Petra Majdič is by far most successful Slovenian cross-country skier, she won 24 World Cup races and one Olympic medal. Current stars include Vesna Fabjan and Katja Višnar.
Biathlon is a growing sport in Slovenia. It was practically unknown before the independence and no major results were achieved before the nineties. World Cup races are held in Pokljuka since 1992, Andreja Koblar won first race for Slovenian women squad in 1996, while Janez Marič did the same for men in 2003. Currently the biggest star is Croatian born Jakov Fak, who won several World Championships medals, while other famous biathletes include Teja Gregorin, Andreja Mali, Tomas Globočnik and Klemen Bauer.
Light athletics started in Slovenia first as recreation in late 19th century Sokol movement and as sport in 1913, when it was introduced in SK Ilirija football club in Ljubljana. It grew into own branch after the World War I and was very popular in Kingdom of Yugoslavia with first Slovenian championship held in 1920. However, international results came only in socialist era, first European Championship medal in 1958 (Stanko Lorger) and first world record in 1964 (Draga Stamejčič). Most famouos Slovenian athletic clubs are ŽAK from Ljubljana and Kladivar from Celje, while current and past stars include Primož Kozmus, Jolanda Čeplak, Matic Osovnikar, Martina Ratej, Brigita Bukovec, Britta Bilač, Borut Bilač, Gregor Cankar, Sonja Roman, Brigita Langerholc, Helena Javornik, Alenka Bikar, Rožle Prezelj, Boštjan Buč.
Cycling has a long tradition in Slovenia. The first cycling club was founded by Germans in Ljubljana in 1985 and Slovenian Cycling Club followed there two years later. It then spread to Gorica, Maribor and other cities and slowly developed into major competitive sport in Yugoslavia after World War I. Slovenian cyclists were not as successful as their team mates from other parts of the country and Josip Šolar was the only Slovenian mid-war cycling champion of Yugoslavia in 1925. In Socialist Yugoslavia Slovenian cycling grow with famous clubs such as Rog (Ljubljana), Sava (Kranj) and Krka (Novo mesto). Current and former stars include Borut Božič, Janez Brajkovič, Jure Golčer, Andrej Hauptman, Matej Mugerli, Uroš Murn, Jure Robič, Simon Špilak, Gorazd Štangelj, Tadej Valjavec, Tanja Žakelj and Blaža Klemenčič.
Motorsport started with Ilirija Motorsport Club in 1913 and became popular during the two world wars. ŽSK Hermes built first motorsport track at ŽŠD Ljubljana and Ludvik Starič became serial yugoslav champipon in the thirties. Currently Slovenia hosts Grand Prix races at Matija Gubec Stadium in Krško, while there is a also a speedway track at Ilirija Sports Park in Ljubljana. Current and former Slovenian motorsport stars include Matej Ferjan, Matej Žagar, Sašo Kragelj and Miran Stanovnik.
The only woman to have circumnavigated the world on a motorbike is Slovenian Benka Pulko. On June 19, 1997, Benka Pulko departed from her hometown of Ptuj, Slovenia on a BMW F650 motorcycle. She returned to Ptuj on December 10, 2002, having established the Guinness World Records for the longest solo motorcycle ride ever undertaken by a woman - in both distance, 180,015 km, and duration, 2,000 days. In the process she also became the first motorcyclist to reach Antarctica, and the first woman to ride solo across Saudi Arabia.
The most famous Slovenian fencer is Rudolf Cvetko, who won Olympic silver medals in 1912 for Austria. He was the first Slovenian to won an Olympic medal and the most important promoter of fencing in Yugoslavnian Slovenia.
Rajmond Debevec won Olympic gold and bronze, as well as numerous other achievements. He is the best Slovenian shooter in history. He participated in seven Olympic games in a row for Yugoslavia and also holds the world record in 3-p, Munich WCF 1992, 1186 p.
Slovenia is also a major force in alpinism. Some of the greatest legends of alpinism are Slovenian, including Tomaž Humar, Tomo Česen, and Julius Kugy. Other notable Slovenian alpinists are Jakob Aljaž, Klement Jug, Davo Karničar, Nejc Zaplotnik, Miha Valič, Aljaž Anderle, Viki Grošelj, Pavle Kozje, and Igor Škamperle.
Since the former Yugoslavia split up, Slovenian rowers have enjoyed excellent results in international competition. The most famous rower in Slovenia is Iztok Čop. Other important rowers are Milan Janša, Jani Klemenčič, Rok Kolander, Sašo Mirjanič, Sadik Mujkić, Miha in Matjaž Pirih, Denis Žvegelj, Matej Prelog, and Luka Špik.
Slovenia has competed in the Mediterranean games since 1993. It is ranked twelfth in the all-time rankings. As of 2011, Slovenia's Mediterranean games medal count is 101 including 27 gold, 28 silver and 46 bronze medals.
- "PrvaLiga" (in Slovenian). Slovenian PrvaLiga official website. Retrieved 23 September 2013.
- "Košarkarska zveza Slovenije" (in Slovenian). Basketball Federation of Slovenia official website. Retrieved 12 February 2010.
- "Hokejska zveza Slovenije" (in Slovenian). Hockey Federation of Slovenia official website. Retrieved 12 February 2010.
- "Rugby Zveza Slovenije". Retrieved 19 September 2013.
- "VANCOUVER 2010".