Coaching Carousel, Gala Evening, and New Stadium in Czech Republic
The Coaching Carousel made a quick stop in the Czech Republic this week capping recent news of new stadium opening and a lavish season-ending gala evening for the Czech Republic Biathlon Team.
Two Norwegian Coaches: Gjelland and Bratli
In a complete change from the past, the Czech team hired two Norwegian coaches, the first foreign coaches in history for the Czech Republic. Former Norwegian Men’s Coach and Olympic Gold medalist Egil Gjelland, who guided among others Johannes Thignes Boe, will now lead the women’s team. His assistants will be Jiří Holubec and Tomáš Kašpar. Holubec previously worked with the women’s team while Kašpar moved from the men’s squad. With Gjelland now Women’s Head Coach, Zdeněk Vitek who coached the women for the past four years, now takes over as Men’s Head Coach. The second Norwegian hire is former cross-country skier Anders Magnus Bratli, who will be a men’s assistant coach. Aleš Ligaun remains on the men’s staff from previous seasons.
First Foreign Coaches
Czech Biathlon Union President Jiří Hamza commented on the staff restructuring. “For the first time in history we have brought foreign coaches to the Czech team. We expect both Egil and Anders to bring us experience from a country that is both a biathlon and skiing power.”
New Position for Rybář
Ondřej Rybář, previously Head Coach and the man who guided the Czech Republic to prominence with Olympic and IBU World Championship medals in recent years now has a new position, Sport Director for the Czech Biathlon Union. Rybář announced the National teams for the coming season with the A squads including just five men and four women, headed by 2018 Olympic medalists Veronika Vitkova and Michal Krčmář. Rybář explained the small squad sizes. “This is typical of the end of an Olympic cycle. We anticipate that some of the junior athletes will move up to the senior team as the next Olympic Winter Games approach.”
Men’s and Women’s A Teams
Additional women in the A team include Eva Puskarcikova, Jessica Jislova, and Marketa Davidova. The additional men on the A team are Ondřej Moravec, Michal Šlesingr, Adam Vaclavik, and Tomas Krupcik.
Queen Veronika and King Michal at Gala Evening
The two Pyeongchang medalists, Vitkova and Krčmář were crowned as the Queen and King of Czech Biathlon at a gala evening on May 21 at Prague’s Forum Karlin. Vitkova was chosen based on fan votes on idnes.cz while Krčmář was picked by members of the Czech Biathlon Union. Although many federations hold season-ending honors ceremonies, this one is by far the most lavish held in a modern concert venue, with athletes and audience red-carpet ready, while the whole ceremony is broadcast on live national television.
Honors include Soukup, Zvařičová and Davidova
Also honored that evening were IBU Junior World Champion Davidova (Jumper of the Year), successfully moving from junior to senior ranks, Viteslav Hornig (Talent of the Year), Rybář (coach of the Year), and former coach Stanislav Řezáč (Hall of Fame). 2014 Olympic Sprint Bronze and Silver Mixed Relay medalist Jaroslav Soukup and 2010 Olympian Veronika Zvařičová were both feted after retiring this spring.
New Training Venue; One More Time for Soukup
With biathlon’s popularity continuing to grow in the Czech Republic, a new training venue, Areál Hraběnka, was opened last month in Jilemnice, the hometown of Soukup, Vitkova and Vitek. The 20-lane shooting range with 3K of rollerski loops, changing and technical facilities was built expressly for training and domestic competitions, at a cost of 3 million Euros. A ribbon-cutting and demonstration competition, with Soukup donning a bib for one final time inaugurated the new shooting range and roller tracks. The National Team will test the facility with a training camp this month.
There is no doubt that biathlon is thriving in the Czech Republic!