The list of great Slovenian female athletes seems never-ending but Culture Trip has selected three athletes that stand out from the rest. Throughout their careers they have not only achieved incredible results but have also been an inspiration to sports fans and young athletes. Here are three inspiring Slovenian sportswomen you should know about.
Skier Tina Maze is one of the most successful athletes in the world. At the age of five she won her first competition and in 1999, at the age of 15, she debuted at the World Cup Competition race in Maribor. Maze trained with the Slovenian ski team until 2008 when she and her trainer, Andrea Massi, started their training team, Team To aMaze. This move allowed Maze and her trainer to have complete control over the training styles and techniques they used and her results started to improve rapidly. In the 2010 Vancouver Olympics Tina won her first two Olympic medals. Though Maze was successful throughout her career it was the 2012-13 season that can only be described as unbelievable. Maze won eleven times and broke five skiing records including the 13 year old record for most World Cup points in a single season (previously held by male skier Herman Mayer). In the same 2013 season Tina Maze became the third woman in history to win every discipline race in a single season. Her success continued in 2014 when she won two gold medals at the Winter Olympics. From her debut in 1999 until her retirement in 2017 Tina Maze won 26 World Cup races and was on the podium 81 times. Tina Maze won four Olympic medals, won the World Championship five times and won Silver five times. With such an incredible list of achievements, Tina Maze is an inspiration to young athletes in Slovenia and around the world.
Petra Majdič is the most successful Slovenian cross-country skier ever. With 20 wins in sprint Petra is the second-most successful sprinter in FIS Cross-Country World Cup history and with 24 wins in total, she is the fourth-most successful World Cup competitor of all time. Despite her incredible win count, Petra is most well known for her Olympic bronze. During a warm up at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, she was thrown off course at an unsecured area of the trail that organizers failed to secure and fell into a three meter deep gully. Crashing on rocks Petra sustained four broken ribs, which later punctured her lungs. Even with these injuries Petra managed to finish qualifications for the quarterfinals, semifinals, and eventually won a bronze medal at the Vancouver Olympics. For her unbelievable achievement she was awarded the Golden Order for Services by the President of Slovenia and received the Terry Fox Award, given to Olympians who touched the world with courage, humility, and extraordinary athletic abilities at the 2010 Games. Petra competed for one more season and then retired from competition.
Urška Žolnir learned her first judo moves at the age of 10 and won her first Junior European Championship in 1997 at the age of 16. She entered the 2004 Summer Olympics as a rising star of the Slovenian judo team and won her first Olympic bronze medal in the half-middleweight (–63 kg) division. After winning bronze at the Olympics Žolnir continued her success and won two medals at the Judo World Championships and four at the European Championships. Her success continued, and in the 2012 Summer Olympics, she became the first Slovenian female athlete to win a gold medal. Though Žolnir has since retired from competitions judo remains a focal point in her life as she is now passing her knowledge and passion to the new generation of Slovenian judo competitors as a coach at her Judo club Sankaku in Celje.