Illustration photo – Czech cross-country skier Kateřina Razýmová.
Planica (Slovenia) – Cross-country skiers should be the main Czech drivers at the World Championships in Classic Skiing, which will begin on Wednesday in Planica, Slovenia. A total of 19 representatives will participate in the championship – nine runners, five jumpers and the same number of team members. 24 sets of medals will be awarded, the championship will culminate on March 5 with the men's 50 kilometer classic race.
The 43rd world championship in history will open the qualifications for male and female runners and jumpers on Wednesday. The first precious metals will be distributed a day later. Planica is organizing the top event for the first time. Challenging conditions and warmer weather are expected. The races should be visited by 100 to 150 thousand fans. The year before last, the race was held in Oberstdorf in front of empty stands due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Czechs want to follow up on their performances from the World Cup and Tour de Ski in running. The main hope is Michal Novák, the eleventh man in the cup standings, Adam Fellner and sprinters Ondřej Černý and Luděk Šeller are also nominated. Among the women, Kateřina Janatová, Kateřina Razýmová, Tereza Beranová, Barbora Antošová and Adéla Nováková are fighting for success.
“It would be great if we managed to fight for the top 10. We need two competitors to be in the elite ten during the world championship, which would be considered a success,” said national team coach Jan Franc on the association's website.
Above all, Novák and Janatová are enjoying a successful season so far. The native of Karlovy Vary improved his personal best several times and took fourth place in the sprint at the Tour de Ski. He took eleventh place in the prestigious miniseries. Janatová regularly occupies positions in the top twenty and she also achieved the best sprint result at the Tour de Ski. She was seventh in Val Müstair.
“I would rate the ongoing season as successful so far. Everyone has already achieved the goals they had in the World Cup. And now comes the expectation to confirm it at the World Cup, which is the hardest,” said Franc.
It is in Thursday's sprints that the Czechs feel the best chance. Beside Novák and Janatová, Beranová also did well in the speed discipline, who was sixth in Beitostölen. The sprints will be followed by skiathlons, team sprints, individual races, relays and final marathons with a mass start.
“In the sprint, we were the closest to the podium, as far as the entire season is concerned. If the form of the athletes and excellent skiing, I believe that if someone gets to the final, anything can happen there. But everyone is down to earth, and if we could fight for the top ten, it would be great,” Franc wished.
Roman Koudelka, who missed the championship in Oberstdorf two years ago, is again nominated for jumpers. Alongside him, Radek Rýdl, Klára Ulrichová and sisters Karolína and Anežka Indráčkova will perform. The replacement will be Benedikt Holub.
The Czech five in the Nordic combination consists of Ondřej Pažout, Tomáš Portyk, Jan Vytrval, Jiří Konvalinka and Tereza Koldovská. Lily-of-the-valley is waiting for her debut on the world stage, she earned the nomination thanks to sixth place at the Junior World Championship. “I like Planica, and if the weather works out, it will be a beautiful race. At the last championship, I was thirteenth and twenty-fourth, so I would like to improve these results. It is the pinnacle and everyone will want to show themselves in the best light,” said Pažout.
Norwegians are among the favorites. The leaders of the World Cup in cross-country skiing are Johannes Hösflot Klaebo and Tiril Udnes Wengová. Halvor Egner Granerud leads the jumping order ahead of the Pole Dawid Kubakky. The best teammate of the season is the Austrian Johannes Lamparter, but right behind him is another Norwegian, Jens Luraas Oftebro. Russian and Belarusian athletes were excluded from the championship due to Russia's military invasion of Ukraine.