Weekend: US basketball players score big in Slovakia

A potential Christmas present, one hike, nice sports stories, and more. Dive into reading this week's roundup.

The interactive exhibition Elements of Art is dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the Žilina Music Conservatory on November 18, 2021.The interactive exhibition Elements of Art is dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the Žilina Music Conservatory on November 18, 2021. (Source: TASR)

This week, we are writing about US basketball players in Slovakia, a new book published by the national gallery, and an easy hike.

Before we move on to this week’s roundup stories, here are two reminders:

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Hiking to Kečka

Not every adventure has to begin in a thrilling way, much like the hike to the 440-metre hill Kečka nad Bralcami in the Štiavnické vrchy mountains.

People mostly start the hike outside the town of Hliník nad Hronom, by the road leading to the spa town of Sklené Teplice, where an information board about the nature reserves Bralce and Szabóova skala is installed. The hike leads through the forest along the green trail and then up a steep hill that leads to a different world.

Some compare it to the popular national park Slovak Paradise. Due to stone quarrying in the distant past, hikers can explore rock towers, small stone seas, inaccessible caves and a rock tunnel here. Several stairs, ladders and chains make the hike to Kečka even more exciting. From here, the one-way trail continues to the meadow Janova lúka and then back to the Bralce reserve and parking space.

The loop hike takes about two hours to complete, but more adventurous types can set out on a hike to Kečka from Sklené Teplice and visit Teplica Castle, also known as the Deserted Castle, on the way. The hike then goes along a yellow trail before hikers have to switch to the green one.


Hiking: A hike to the Konské hlavy hill in the Small Carpathians.

Ice: An ice replica of Santiago de Compostela Cathedral stands in the High Tatras.

Photos: Miroslav Čillo takes pictures of the Turiec region, which some call Slovak Tuscany, regardless of the season and time. See some of his photographs.


Slovakia through artists’ eyes

The new publication Slovakia in the Works of the Slovak National Gallery (SNG) presents the story of Slovakia on more than 400 pages, which has been told - for more than a hundred years - by various artists.

The book full of pictures, supplemented by short texts, also provides an opportunity to reflect on how 145 artists view Slovakia in their works.

The artworks were selected on the basis of their timeless quality and thematic diversity. The book, published in Slovak and English, is organised into poetically tuned chapters, but the works from the SNG collections were chosen in a way that ironises, relativises and contextualises any sentiment.


Bratislava fountain to be returned to life

The dilapidated underground engine hall of the biggest fountain in Bratislava, Družba, on Námestie Slobody square, has no functional lighting and air conditioning.

However, the iconic fountain will now undergo its first overhaul, worth €2 million, since its opening in 1980. Resembling a blossoming linden flower, it was designed by Virgil Droppa and Juraj Hlavica. Družba, which was to symbolise peace among nations, was put out of order in 2007.

However, once it is refurbished, life should return not only to the fountain but also to the square.



“Little” US basketball stars in Slovakia

Basketball player Kyle Castlin has had a great start to the season. The American is one of the best players in Slovakia’s top league. This year, over twenty US players have joined Slovak clubs.

In fact, American players have been coming to Slovakia since 1993. “Competition among American players is huge,” said basketball journalist Tomáš Prokop. The USA produces too many players, but only the best ones make it to the NBA or other top leagues, he added. And so, some end up in Slovakia, which is equally beneficial to clubs and US players. They even become local stars in small basketball towns.

“I like this league a lot. It’s competitive, and it gets good recognition,” Ty Walker, one of the most efficient centres in the league, said. “People are nice and really support the team,” he added.

Several Americans even obtained Slovak passports and represented Slovakia in the past. One of them is Andre Jones, for whom Slovakia is a second home.


This week’s weekend read will be devoted to sports too.


Marián Hossa becomes a Hall of Famer

The retired Slovak right-winger Marián Hossa has had hockey in his blood since he was a child. His father was a hockey player and, later, a coach. There was no doubt that his son Marián would grow into a hockey player.

Back in secondary school, he was one of the players scouts went to watch. When Jaroslav Walter transferred the then 17-year-old Hossa from the youth team to Dukla Trenčín’s A-team, many may have been surprised and perceived it as a ‘protectionist step.’ The opposite was true. He shone in the games.

Hossa, who had speed, explosiveness and creativity, won the top Slovak trophy with his team and subsequently moved overseas, where he played for several teams during his successful career, starting in Ottawa back in 1998. It took him more than a decade to win the Stanley Cup, with the Chicago Blackhawks, for the first but not the last time.

Read a full profile of the Slovak player, who played more than 1,300 games in the NHL and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame earlier this month after an extra year-long wait due to Covid, written by hockey journalist Stanislav Benčat.

That is it for now. Stay healthy, stay safe. Have a great weekend! – Peter

Do you have any tips? You can reach Peter at peter.dlhopolec@spectator.sk

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