Almost every Slovenian is a sports enthusiast

Author: Polona Prešeren

Date: 7. October 2019

Time to read: 5 min

Nothing connects people better than sports and various forms of recreation. As a geographically diverse country, Slovenia offers a wide range of opportunities for sports activities. Slovenians are enthusiastic recreational athletes.

According to the statistics, a full 61% of people aged 16 or older are sufficiently engaged in sports or recreational physical activity, 24% are insufficiently engaged and only 16% engage in no such activity at all.

This is facilitated by numerous year-round recreational sports events for recreationists and other sports enthusiasts. Sports activities are also organised at institutional and professional levels. Slovenians are a nation with a strong drive to exercise, and they engage in professional competitions and recreational events with the same level of enthusiasm. So it is not surprising that that they excel at sports. They simply enjoy sports; it is part of their mindset.

Slovenia radiates a special sporting energy because its people are constantly in motion and in touch with nature.

Slovenians are fond of all outdoor activities and sports activities in their free time, such as hiking, mountaineering, running, skiing, walking, etc. They associate any physical activity with the quality of life. There is a widespread urban myth that nearly every Slovenian is an athlete in some way.

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It seems impossible that a nation of just two million could achieve such success in sports. Slovenian athletes have scored a number of successes, making Slovenia one of the smallest countries participating in the world's largest competitions in all major collective sports disciplines, such as football, ice hockey, basketball, handball, volleyball, and so on – and Slovenian fans have always been distinguished by their enthusiastic rooting.

Numerous sports events, such as the world cup alpine ski championships in Maribor and Kranjska Gora, or the ski jumping at Planica, have traditionally attracted large numbers of spectators.

The Ljubljana Marathon also attracts a large number of participants every year.  Popular events also include hiking festivals, cycling races and ironman contests.

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Planica – a place of world records

Slovenia has exceptional sports infrastructure. Especially noteworthy is Planica, where a jumping facility for the crazy sport of ski jumping, invented by Slovenians, was set up as early as 1930. Today, there is a modern sports facility called the Nordic Centre in Planica, dominated by the ski jumping (or ski flying) hill, where ski jumpers can jump past the 250 metre mark. Planica reflects the knowledge and excellence of Slovenian designers, engineers and other specialists. It is a symbol of a daring approach, natural beauty and world-renowned heritage.

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The mighty mountains

Slovenians feel mountaineering and alpinism in their bones. Throughout the year, Slovenia’s mountain world offers splendour for the soul and an abundance of activities.

Its seven thousand kilometres of marked and protected trails and 165 mountain lodges attract hikers, climbers and other nature lovers.

The entire country is a network of trails and footpaths of varying difficulty. 

The countless mountain trails make mountaineering a very popular pastime. At the many lodges and shelters along these paths, travellers can find somewhere to stay overnight and enjoy a hearty meal.

Alpinists occupy a special place in Slovenian sport. Their achievements at the extremes of human endurance, which include the first ascents of some of the most difficult faces in the Himalayas and other mountain ranges, are not a mere coincidence. Mountaineering and alpinism have a very long tradition in Slovenia, and mountaineering is also one of the most popular forms of recreation.

Golf

Slovenia's idyllic natural environment offers many splendid opportunities to play golf. Nature has provided an ideal backdrop for golf courses here, and there is a wide range of attractive golf clubs, courses, and practice courses to choose from. The country’s varied landscapes provide many different natural backdrops, offering a true golfing challenge.

Interesting facts:

  • Planica is home to ski jumping, with one of the most modern Nordic ski centres in Europe, which will host the 2020 FIS Ski Flying World Championships and the 2023 Nordic World Ski Championships.
  • Slovenia is one of the few countries to qualify for world championships in team sports (football, basketball, ice hockey, handball, and volleyball). Slovenian athletes win medals in major competitions. Slovenia boasts an enviable number of medals per capita.
  • There are just under a thousand registered hockey players in Slovenia – of which only around two hundred are professional players – and two semi-professional clubs, while there are only a few amateur sports associations. Nevertheless, the Slovenian ice hockey team has played in World Championship Division I A and it qualified for the ice hockey tournament at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
  • The Slovenian basketball team won the 2017 European championship without losing a single match. The Istanbul arena was packed with supporters of the team, who coloured the stands green, the Slovenian national team’s colour.
  •  Children and youth swimming skills: Teaching swimming skills includes systematic swimming lessons as part of the mandatory school programme for all children eight to nine years old. Over the last 18 years, the share of swimmers has increased from 72% to 92%, which places Slovenia among the top EU countries in terms of the population’s swimming ability.
  • Tina Maze, a Slovenian world cup alpine ski racer, won twenty-six world cup races in her career, which makes her the best alpine skier in the history of Slovenia. Altogether she has won 13 medals in world championships and Olympic games. She is the world record holder – 2,414 points in one world cup season (in both the men’s and women’s classifications).