After four years world’s best elite of cross-country skiing returns to Nové Město na Moravě. The World Cup in the home atmosphere in combination with improving performance of the Czech rejuvenated team offers an attractive show. The venue will take place in Vysočina Arena on 18th and 19th January. "It will definitely be a very attractive performance for fans because the Czech flag can be seen at front places. Except this the fans will also enjoy star names, such as Johaug, Klaebo or Bolshunov," the director of Czech cross-country skiing Lukáš Sacher says.
How difficult is it to organize the World Cup in the Czech Republic?
We have felt support from FIS on long-term basis. Their representatives are aware that from the historical point of view the World Cup belongs to the Czech Republic, too, so they want the races to be here again. In terms of organization such a big event it’s not easy, of course, however, I think the venues in Vysočina Arena have proved to be top ones, no matter if it’s cross-country skiing, biathlon or mountain bikes.
How are the preparations at the arena now?
Organizers do their best to prepare top-quality trails. Weather conditions significantly complicates our work, we had to shorten the circuit due to a lack of snow. We have got 4km long circuit instead of 5km and it could happen only thanks to the snow storage from last season. We had to adjust the programme little bit as well. Nevertheless, the World Cup is not in danger.
When will the skiers start to come to Nové Město?
Our team, as well as most of other teams, will come to Vysočina Arena in the middle of the week. However, for example the fresh winner of the Tour de Ski Alexander Bolshunov came here on Monday. Although we informed him about the tracks to be ready one day before the races, he showed interest to be in NMNM as soon as possible and we were glad to meet his wish.
Czech skiers, who improved their performance in comparison with the last seasons, will be paid huge attention. Is the Czech team happy with the results from the beginning of the season?
Definitely, even though it could be even better. During the last years our team underwent a generation’s exchange. After the end of a strong and successful generation we logically noticed a performance decline. But we knew we’ve got many young talents and we settled a direction we want to aim. I’m glad they start to be successful at the top level. I also have to thank all our youth coaches because they grow up our new team members.
Were you surprised at the beginning of the season how many skiers can gain points at once in the World Cup races?
I believed our result will get better. Last year we had some hints it’s moving somewhere and in the current season they linked to that. But there’s definitely a lot of work ahead for us. My personal wish is to have two strong relays in Winter Olympic Games in Beijing. I’ve got a good feeling from coaches and the whole team, I feel we all are on the same boat, which always counts.
Were you surprised by Kateřina Razýmová’s performance?
What Katka performed in the opening races of the World Cup, it had to shock everyone including her. It is important that it repeated, she finished in top 10. I’m so happy for her.
She had to finish the Tour de Ski earlier because of a virus infection as well as siblings Novaks. How big problem can it be before the home World Cup?
It was a shame thay had to leave the Tour. Everyone was in a good form, they regularly gained points and the Tour developed really positively for them. But the virus does not choose. We didn’t want to risk the rest of the season so after a discussion with the doctors, coaches and skiers themselves the decision was made to finish with regards to the home World Cup. Nowadays everyone is getting ready again and all of them should be ok for NMNM.
On the contrary, Kateřina Janatová finished the whole Tour de Ski, which was her debut. Is she another new face that Czech fans should get used to?
Katka dealt well with her World Cup premiere. She gained points in four races. I can’t say it would be a big surprise for me. Since the beginning of the season she has proved increasing form, regularly takes points and she often increases her maximum. It’s great that from a sprinter she is gradually becoming a universal racer. This is the way we want to go.
Could the current performance of Czech skiers attract more fans to NMNM?
I firmly believe so. I’m glad it’s not only about one person but there are 5 or 6 people who can get points. If one of them fails, there are still others. It’s definitely more attractive for the fans when they see the Czech flag at front places. Except this the fans will also enjoy star names, such as Johaug, Klaebo or Bolshunov.
Who do you personally look forward the most?
I like racing style of Iivo Niskanen, especially in classic, he’s all in. And I’m also curious about the upcoming Slovenian star Anamarija Lampicova, it’s fantastic when the Russian-Norwegian block is broken by other countries.