Nations Cup Position: 10th
Men: 1695 (7th)
Women: 187 (15th)
For yet another season, old man Bauer (he is 34-years old after all) will lead his Czech teammates into battle. The supporting cast will look about the same as it did last year – not so bad on the men’s side, pretty weak on the women’s side – and the men will pull out one miraculous relay effort and win a medal in a team event… if history has told us anything.
Dusan Kozisek (26th sprint ranking) will be the man leading the men’s sprint team. He broke through last year will a thrilling third place in front of his home crowd in Liberec to claim his first ever sprint podium. Kozisek’s sprint partner will be either Martin Jaks (55th) or Martin Koukal (66th). Koukal will forever be known for winning the World Championship 50km free in Val di Femme and a 2nd place in Düsseldorf in the same year. Unfortunately, that was the last time he stepped on a sprint podium; 8 years ago. Jaks on the other hand had a great 7th place finish in Toblach, the second sprint of the Tour de Ski, but other than that he finished top 30 only once, 28th in Oberhof.
The women’s sprint team is the same as last year. They have Eva Nyvltova (37th ranked) who is the only athlete to make an impression in the top 30. Her best finish last year was an 8th in Toblach.
Bauer isn’t getting any younger, but that doesn’t mean he’s slowing down at all. The 34-year old finished 3rd in the distance points ranking behind Cologna and Rickardsson last year and should be expected to do the same this year. With no major championships and a smooth fall thus far, expect Bauer to challenge for the Tour de Ski title once again.
Jaks (14th in distance ranking) is finally finding consistency and scored seven top 16 placings last year including an amazing run in the Tour de Ski that saw him go 3rd, 4th,4th in three consecutive distance races. He’s finally starting to ski to the potential many saw when he came 2nd and 3rd at the World Junior Championships in 2006 and should be finishing regularly in the top 15 this year.
Jiri Magal and
Martin Koukal round-out the relay team that tends to surprise the world every so often. They are getting older (34 and 33 respectively) and Koukal has reverted mainly to a sprinter as he failed to finish in the top 30 in any distance race last year while Magal managed to do so only twice.
UPDATE: Thanks to @klisterhead for the heads up. Apparently Koukal announced in May that he will be focusing on loppets this year and won’t be skiing the World Cup. Should be interesting to will be the #4 on the relay team now.
Once again, Eva Nyvltova (39th in distance ranking) will carry the load, but will struggle to earn points on a regular basis. Ivana Janeckova will be the other Czech woman to score points this season, but I would only expect to crack the top 30 a couple times.
There is really nothing to report right now. The Czech talent pool looks rather lackluster for the next few years and something will have to change before they can start having youngster come through the ranks and successfully make an impact on the World Cup.
The men’s distance is where all the success will come from. Bauer will be borderline unstoppable in the individual start format and Jaks will continue to grow as a skier and will expect to earn many top 15’s this year. After that though, the talent dissipates fast on both the men’s and women’s side. The Czech’s are still looking for the replacement to the great Neumannova, but still have yet to find her.