The year 2021 had a great opening by Czech cross-country skiing team. During the first stage of Tour de Ski Michal Novák advanced to the sprint semi-finals and finished 9th. Kateřina Janatová ended at 17th place.
Tour de Ski started off its 15th edition in Swiss Val Müstair. Local organizers prepared a miscellaneous trail with intensive uphill and steep downhills. Its difficulty was intensified not only by constant snowing but also by its location at 1.700m.
Out of our four skiers only Michal Novák advanced to quarterfinals when being 12th in qualification. He performed amazing also in the quarterfinals where running for direct advancing until last metres – he finally finished third and advanced to top 12 as happily beaten. In semi-finals he finished fifth and ranked to total 9th spot, which has been his maximum in the World Cup races so far.
"This is an ideal entering to Tour de Ski. I felt really fantastic. The real form will show up tomorrow in distance competition but I still have a great feeling from my performance. Our service team has also done a great job – my skis were well prepared," Michal Novák said.
Another trio of Czech skiers finished the first stage of the Tour by qualification. Adam Fellner finished 52nd, Ondřej Černý 73rd and Petr Knopp two spots behind.
Kateřina Janatová shined in qualification by 9th place while leaving many more experienced skiers behind. In the quarterfinals she long kept herselfs in the back but with close contact with the fastest ones. However, in downhill she lost the contact with favourite Swedes and finished fourth. She ranked at 17th place after the first stage of Tour de Ski.
"I’m half satisfied with the result. I think I made a fantastic qualification but I’d like to see myself at similar places in the competition as well. But it’s been the hardest sprint I’ve ever run and moreover it started to snow. Regarding the weather and sharp corners that are here, tomorrow’s mass start competition will be very interesting," Janatová said smiling.
Petra Nováková qualified thanks to 28th place but in quarterfinals she could not keep the pace of the favourites and finished sixth, which ranks her 29th in total standings.
"I’m very happy for the qualification. This sprint is one of the hardest and it often happens that the skiers ovedo it at the beginning and in finish they are out of gas. I succeeded in calming my head and run kind of a relaxing race, which helped me to advance. I feel my condition is getting better with every single race," Nováková admitted.
Kateřina Razýmová narrowly missed the main race (33rd place), however her time comes up later in distance competitions. Petra Hynčicová (40th) and Tereza Beranová (46th) finished in qualification.
Tour de Ski continues on Saturday 2nd January by distance competition with mass start.