Ice hockey became popular in Slovakia with the holding of the European Championships in the High Tatras in 1925. Bad weather conditions forced the organisers of the Championships in Prague to move the event to Slovakia. So news of the new sport spread quickly across many towns in Slovakia. Consequently, the words "hockey, hockey stick, and puck" began to be heard in Žilina in 1925. On 25 February Ladislav Vyskočil donated hockey sticks and hockey gear to hockey players and took them to the ŠK Žilina winter sports ground on present-day Republic Street. However, the first pitch was divided up into plots of land after two years and the spare one on Studničky was not sufficient for match requirements. However, E. Adamko extended a helping hand in 1928 by creating an ice rink on the tennis courts.
The Žilina team played its first match on 16 December 1928 against Slavia Banská Bystrica, who were their most frequent opponent for many years. Furthermore, the Central Slovak Ice Hockey Union was founded in 1931 and Žilina’s hockey players became members. They won the very first year and in the years of 1932/1933 and 1934/1935. These achievements meant that ice hockey spread to other clubs and in 1935 Slovan began playing in the county championships, joined by ŠK Závodie in 1937. ŠK Žilina went forward as the winner of the newly established Slovak hockey division. However, changes took place once the Slovak Republic was founded in 1939. Before that though, in 1938, the Slovak Ice Hockey Federation was founded and Žilina became the centre of the one of four hockey counties. In winter 1939 a National Hockey Tournament was organised in the town for the first time in Slovakia since 1929. After winning the county championships Žilina’s hockey players were selected for the Hockey League, which began in the 1941/1942 season. After Czechoslovakia was united again, the teams in the various competitions were categorised differently. ŠK Žilina found itself in the Považie hockey division. Three years later, it was renamed Sokol Slovena and joined group "D" in the nationwide Hockey League. They started playing on a new artificial ice rink in 1948. In 1952 they were called Iskra Žilina and competed in group "D". Their coach was V Okoličáni who was later replaced by E Čapek. They were renamed Dynamo Žilina in the 1956/1957 season and in the regional competition a team of soldiers called Army House competed. Dynamo played hockey in the second league from the 1957/1958 season on. In 1961 they began playing at a new indoor stadium. In 1969 the competition was renamed the Slovak National Hockey League and the Žilina club was first called Unity and then from 1967 on ZVL Žilina.
The most successful season was 1964/1965 when they won the competition but failed to get promoted to the top league. ZVL Žilina played in the Slovak National Hockey League until the 1984/1985 season, when it dropped out, a state of affairs which was then repeated in the next follow-up to the league. The team was renamed Tatran DI Žilina in 1986, but that didn’t help. In 1991 it became Žilina hockey club. Its name has changed several times since 1999 and the club was transformed into a joint stock company.
The ice stadium home of the hockey club became a place for family skating and school children’s skating lessons and the idea of establishing a women’s team gradually emerged. The team was established in 1990 and a year later they even won the first championship in Slovakia. The women’s team achieved its most important success in the 1994/1995 season when it won the competition. Then, the police decided to dissolve the club’s activities.
Žilina’s hockey players finally managed to win the top hockey league and became the champions of the Slovak Republic. In the final matches they defeated the Poprad team, whom their predecessors had frequently encountered in the first Czechoslovak Republic. The MsHK Žilina hockey club is now ranked in the middle of the league table. A figure skating club was created along with the gymnastics team Iskra Slovena in 1953. Until then those interested in this sport had belonged to the winter sports club. The first Žilina representatives of the sport were Barényi and Šilingerová who competed in the Slovak championship in Žilina on 31 January and 1 February 1934. The first artificial ice rink was built in 1948, creating the foundations for the development of ice hockey and attracting talented skaters from far and wide. The founder and first chairman of the club was M Horváth. And they succeeded in getting the Lojkovič duo to coach them. Gradually, the club grew and new coaches joined – the Prokops. The most obvious talents were Bartosiewicz, Jirásek Eichlerová, Remšíková, Beneková and Mrázová. Bartosiewicz competed in pair skating at the Olympics in 1964 and 1968. In 1965, 1966, 1968 he was also champion of Czechoslovakia. In 1968, the "Žilina Figure Skating Grand Prix" was held in the town. However, the dance couples who also raced failed to achieve the sporting achievements of Bartosiewicz and Wlachovská. Babiaková-Paurová attracted most attention of the new generation of ice-skaters training under the new coaches, and by being not only Slovak champion between 1994 and 2000, but also a contestant in the 2000 Winter Olympics, where she finished 19th. Conditions deteriorated after that, but a new coach managed to bring back the "Žilina Grand Prix", and there is new hope for figure skating.
The ice stadium is named after Vojtech Závodský, an active athlete and hockey official. The stadium was built between 1958 and 1961 according to designs by Ing. arch. Milan Hodoň and Ing. Ján Dlhopolček. The roof of the stadium is constructed out of two bridges transported directly from Třinec Ironworks in Třinec and the suppliers of other parts were the Bohumín Ironworks and Vitkovice Ironworks, Karviná plant. The roof was designed along the lines of the sports hall in Bilbao, Spain. Spectators have an excellent view thanks to the bridge structure, whose arches emerge into the building foyer. There are no support columns inside. The hall was officially opened on 4 January 1961 when Žilina’s hockey players played against the Swiss Neutschatel Young Sprinters. The hall had capacity for 6200 spectators, 1100 of which were standing.
Source: Mgr. Jozef Moravčík
It can be visited
■ exterior during a guided tour of TIO Žilina.
Position of the monument on the map: C3