The Slovak Junior Olympic Team celebrating their Bronze medal victory in 1999
Slovakia has always been a country with a rich sports tradition. Among the winter sports, ice hockey and skiing are especially dominant here, but figure skating also has a great tradition. The natural conditions implore the inhabitants of this country to the cultivate winter sports.
Football, volleyball, tennis and ice hockey are popular. There is a very good network of marked trails in all mountain areas, and it is possible to plan a walking tour in advance. Hunting is available.
Since independence Slovakia has been represented as a unique nation in the Olympics and other international sports venues. Although Slovaks played a prominent role under the banner of "Czechoslovakia" they had to prove themselves all over again under their new nation state. Slovakia made its Olympic debut at the Winter Olympic games in Lillehammer 1994. Success has followed for this nation of 5 million people. At the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics Slovakia picked up 3 medals, including one gold. Nagano 1998 was shutout but victories in other international events followed. At the Hockey World Juniors in 1999 the Slovak team managed to get bronze. In 2000, at the Icehockey World Championships Slovakia clinched the silver medal after a defeat by their former partners, the Czech Republic.
Josef Gonci with Shooting medal at Atlanta
The Tatra Mountains
Like their more famous cousins, the Alps, the Tatras have their particular charm for every season of the year, but they are most beautiful in winter. In some places snow fields survive throughout the whole year. At Štrbsk Pleso, host of the World Championships in Skiing in 1970, ideal snow conditions lasted for 200 days. The Tatras are a real winter jewel and indeed have something to offer for every sports enthusiast.
The Poprad-Tatry region is bidding, and has bid previously, for the Olympic Games. The Poprad-Tatry 2006 bid has been identified by IOC officials as one of the most promising in Europe. This region has a history as venue for sporting competitions that dates back to 1909, when the European championships in speed skating were held at Štrbsk Pleso. Further milestones came with the European Championships in ice hockey in 1925 and Nordic skiing in 1935 and 1970, followed by the winter "Univerzida" in 1987. Slovakia has also hosted and is an active participant in the Special Olympics. The Tatras have long hosted competitions of an international nature, such as Tatras Cup in skiing and hockey and World and European Cups in Alpine skiing.
Miroslav Satan, NHL player, is Captain of the Slovak Hockey Team
1999 promises the 19th World Winter Universiade and 4th European youth Olympic days are a further step towards the goal of playing host to the Olympics. After Aosta, Andorra and Sundsvalla young sportsmen and sportswomen are coming to the Tatras in the spirit of the Olympic movement. We trust that they will take home with them a favorable impression of Slovakia.
Winter sports tours can be arranged through the tourist office; check for details. The many and varied rivers and lakes provide excellent opportunities for water sports �" canoeing, sailing, water-skiing, fishing, and many others. Contact the Slovak Tourist Board or a travel agent.