The Slovenia Times




The national ice hockey team secured another year in Pool A at the world championships in Austria after it won a decisive match against the host nation. The championships were a roller coaster of emotions for the team and fans alike. After two poor performances against the USA and Canada (0-7 and 0-8 respectively), Slovenia opened the scoring against Latvia but eventually lost 1-3. Boosted by the fine performance, the team went into the relegation round, together with Denmark, Germany and Austria, with a sense of optimism. In the first match, against Denmark, Slovenia staged a remarkable comeback to win 4-3 after being down 0-3 at one point. However, the next match against Germany was, unexpectedly, a total disaster (1-9) and the team was severely criticised in the press. However, against all expectations, the team was able to get its act together in the last and decisive match against Austria (6-2) to remain in Pool A. Ivo Jan, who scored three times against Austria and otherwise plays in Germany (who were eliminated from Pool A along with Austria) said after the match: "I know that the Germans and Austrians look down on us, so I am looking forward to getting back to my team in Germany so I can start teasing them." The next championships will take place in Latvia in 2006 and Slovenia has been grouped with Finland, the Czech Republic and the hosts. It is not clear exactly what caused the fluctuating performances in Austria; however, it has been reported that they were as a consequence of internal conflicts. The national team left for Austria with most of the players still owed about half the money they were promised by the national ice hockey association (EUR 5,000) for winning the Pool B championship in Poland last year. They were promised a further EUR 3,000 for success in Austria. Kari Savolainen, the team's Finnish coach, resigned after the championships although this had been agreed to before the start of the competition and had nothing to do with the conflict. Back to Tradition Andrej Jereb (Subaru Impreza) won the 28th Hella Rally that took place on the roads around Cerknica, Logatec, Idrija and Cerkno. The event gathered together 84 squads from Slovenia, Austria, Germany, Italy, Hungary, Serbia and Montenegro, the Czech Republic and Poland. The fastest driver was actually Raimund Baumschlager (Mitsubishi Carisma evo 8) but his result did not count because his car was from a higher category. The Hella Rally is the biggest motor racing event in Slovenia. It used to be known as the Saturnus Rally and it has traditionally attracted large crowds. It has had its ups and downs, but this year's event has shown that it is back to its former glory. The Hella Rally was the second event of the national rally championship, after the event in Wolsberg, Austria in late March. The remaining events will be held in Koper (3rd - 4th June), Maribor (8th - 9th July), Velenje (2nd - 3rd September) and Postojna (7th - 8th October). "We need Brezec" The national basketball team coach, Ales Pipan, has announced a preliminary squad of 32 players for the European basketball championships in Belgrade in September. Twenty of the players in the squad play for teams outside Slovenia. Besides the NBA (see main text) they come from Greek, Turkish, Italian, Polish and German teams. The only established player missing from the squad Boris Gorenc, the enfant terrible of Slovenian basketball. The participation of the NBA players is still uncertain, however, especially in the case of Bostjan Nachbar (who needs to find a new team) and Primoz Brezec. The latter was not happy with his omission from the team during the qualifying matches: "If they didn't need me then I see no reason why they should need me now," he said. Pipan, however, has stated that he is counting on him being available and that he will have a word with him to sort out the issue. The squad will be trimmed to 15 players plus three reserves before it leaves for Belgrade.


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