Nations Cup Ranking: 11th (1640 pts)
Men: 9th (1335 pts)
Women: 14th (305 pts)
2010/2011 A Team
What you may have missed last season:
The Czech men’s 4×10 k relay coming from virtually nowhere to win the bronze medal at the Olympics. Most skiing fans would have picked the Russians, the Germans, the French, the Norwegians, the Swedes, the Italians and even the Canadians far ahead of the Czechs. Even the experts here at FasterSkier had Lukas Bauer and the boys slotted in for ninth – though give us a pat on the back for predicting them to surprise some people.
On paper, the Czechs weren’t a threat – after Lukas Bauer, the next best Czech male skier was Martin Koukal, who has seen most of his success in sprinting. Heck, Koukal had nearly 900 fewer World Cup points than Bauer. Back in 2003, Koukal managed to win the 50 k at World Championships in Val di Fiemme, where he also finished fifth in the sprint as well, but his distance skiing is no longer anywhere near that level. As for the other two relay team members, Jiri Magal was ranked 114th and Martin Jaks 140th in the World Cup overall standings, and neither are close to being top-tier talent.
Yet after what we can only imagine was one hell of a pep talk by Lukas Bauer the night before, the Czechs skied their hearts out, and Bauer picked up his second bronze of the Olympic Games.
What You Should Know For This Season
Last year, the only man to be consistently better than Petter Northug was Bauer, despite a rapidly receding hairline and a lack of sprint ability that is painful to watch. He won the Tour de Ski despite his dearth of speed, and finished second to Northug in the World Cup overall. And at age 33, Bauer is still in his prime.
According to this interview with FIS, Bauer has even been working on his speed – so after a year in which he qualified in zero sprints on the World Cup, things could change. But it’s more likely that he will have the wheels at the end of a long mass start to nip some of his slower-finishing competitors *cough*Teichmann*cough* at the line.
Who You Should Watch
Eva Nyvltova is a bit of an anomaly, and worth noting. Despite just one full season on the World Cup, she is a surprisingly good all-arounder. She finished just outside of the top 30 in a few sprints on the World Cup, and finished 22nd in the Tour de Ski. At 24, she still has time to improve, and appears to have the skill set to do so.