We all remember the times when Kateřina Neumannová used to be among the best in the world. We also are well aware that since then the Czech Czech xcskiing ( or, specifically, female part of it) is kind of faded away from the world stage.
The podium drought might be finally coming to an end. Katerina Razymova had a fantastic 2019/20 season, time and again finishing in Top 10 in the World Cup distance races and Katerina Janatova is among the world best U23s while others show sign of progress.
We caught up with Běžecké Lyžování at their training camp in Nove Mesto Na Morave – where the FIS World Cup stage was held last season ( and the biathlon one is held regularly)
Jan Franc works with the Czech female squad for the fourth season now and has nation’s six best skiers under his tutelage
The squad is a blend of experience ( Razymova, 28) and youth ( Pavlina Votockova, 20) with an average team age of 24
Katerina Razymova, team leader on & off the tracks
Franc with Petra Hynčicova, Universiade’19 winner and University of Colorado in Boulder alumni
Katerina Janatova, #7 in the world’s U23 ranking – trying to get used to her very own portrait on the new sponsor-given car
Pavlina Votockova, youngest team member and big talent
Tereza Beranova’s achievements last season include somewhat surprising victory in the 100m SuperSprint in Dresden where World Cup-class skiers run for the first time.
Now in Franc’ own words:
“If we had to choose, a medal at the world championships or the Olympics is more important than the good World Cup standings”
“Razymova can fight for a medal, equally we can try for a top place Team Sprint and relay”
“We don’t have resources of the large teams , but we managed to keep pre-Corona funding, our team sponsors are as loyal and committed as before. We don’t feel that we are on unequal terms with the best: we have world-class training facilities here in Czechia and when we need something specific that we can’t get here – like altitude training or early snow, – we go to the Alps or ski tunnel in Oberhof”
“Of course, in absolutely ideal world we would like to have more staff e.g permanent team doctor ( we have one attached to the team during the World Cup but not off-season) , individual serviceman for each team skier, assistant coaches etc. – top teams have all of the above and those things matter – especially at the long World Cup, but they are not decisive factors. The real issue is of a different kind:… “
“…Today many teams in continental Europe are suffering from the same limited pool of talents. A lot more young people take up skiing in Norway,Sweden etc. and there is always a steady supply of talents. With smaller skiing nations it is always going up and down. Now we have a very talented crop of athletes, both in the main and junior teams – but would there be an equally talented replacement? We are not sure – it’s something that will require collective work of many coaches and administrators”