Slovenian Papers Celebrate Maze Gold

Ljubljana/Maribor, 13 February - Slovenian papers celebrate Tina Maze's gold medal in the women's downhill in Sochi, Slovenia's first ever Winter Olympic gold, in their commentaries on Wednesday. They say it is a welcome break from less pleasant topics with which the country is dealing.

The papers say that Maze has now become an immortal icon in Slovenia, but warn that her achievements will not solve all the problems of Slovenian sport.

Highlighting that this is the first gold for Slovenia since the Winter Games were launched in 1924, Maribor-based Večer believes it has rekindled a euphoria in Slovenia unseen since the successes of skier Bojan Križaj in the 1980s.

Back then it did not matter that Slovenians lived in a period of power cuts, fuel rations and a lack of coffee, life came to a stop when Križaj hit the slopes, the paper writes, drawing parallels with the current economic crisis and the aftermath of the devastating ice storm.

"The irrational happiness that accompanied Maze's achievement - as well as those of other medal-winning Slovenian athletes in Sochi in recent days - is understandable. In a period of desperation, the athletes are serving us breakfast, lunch and dinner," Večer writes.

The sentiment is shared by the Koper-based regional newspaper Primorske novice, which says that Maze has managed to cast her name in stone among immortal figures in Slovenian history.

"The title of Olympic champion is the final confirmation of Tina Maze's decision to rise above the average in Slovenian alpine skiing," it says of the skier's decision to establish her own team in 2008.

Maze's success "confirms that Slovenians are individualists and very stubborn by nature", Primorske novice says, adding that Maze's success has not come without its share of conflicts. "All that was forgotten yesterday," it adds.

The daily Delo adds that Maze's gold is just the cherry on top of the cake for Slovenia in Sochi. "If somebody had said that Slovenia would have four medals in five days prior to the Games, people would have called them crazy."

Now that the country has even won its first gold medal, the world media are writing about Slovenia's Olympic fairytale and the country's amazing achievements given its small size, says Delo.

In spite of the latest successes, Slovenian sport will return to its every-day problems once the Games are over. "The medals will not save Slovenian sport, which lacks a sizeable market which would attract sponsors and other investors."

As a result, it will depend on Slovenia how it nurtures its sport. "If it fails to find the right course to steer with limited resources, it will end up like the economy - dying in instalments," Delo concludes.

© STA, 2014