In Sports News this Monday: the Czech Republic’s ice hockey players get back on track with a solid display at the Channel One Cup; Ondřej Bank comes a sensational fifth in a giant slalom World Cup event in Italy; Sparta Prague draw Liverpool in the Europa League; and world tennis number one Caroline Wozniacki helps Prostějov win a Czech title.
After a miserable start to the season, the Czech Republic’s ice hockey players appear to have got back on track, after coming second in Russia’s Channel One Cup, the second tournament in the four-nation European Hockey Tour. The Czechs overcame Finland 3:2 on penalties, lost 3:1 to Russia, and beat Sweden 4:1 in their final game on Sunday to take three points for the first time this season. What seems to have made the difference was the return of some members of the squad that won this year’s world championship, among them Tomáš Rolinek, Karel Rachůnek and Miroslav Blaťák. Meanwhile, Jakub Štěpánek once again impressed in goal. Coach Alois Hadamczik was clearly pleased with the improvement in his team.
“If we beat Sweden 4:1 then we’re satisfied. But I’m satisfied with how we played, with the goaltender’s performance, and with the team as a whole. I think we played well, and the victory wasn’t accidental. The team showed they’re united. Some players really stood tall, like Rolinek, Karel Rachůnek…and others performed well too.”
At 30 years of age, downhill skier Ondřej Bank is in the form of his life. After a career-best seventh place finish a week previously, he achieved a phenomenal fifth place in the World Cup giant slalom at Alta Badia in Italy on Sunday. The Czech had come 12th at the same venue a year earlier.
“I really do well on the slope here, it suits me a lot. It’s the best slope I’ve been on, so I make the most of it. In the first round I felt I didn’t do well, but even still I went quickly. That’s what happens when you have a good slope, and me on it! So I’m really happy.”
There were headlines about Sparta Prague players’ Christmas coming early when they drew England’s Liverpool in the knock-out stage of the Europa League, European football’s second tier international club competition. The first leg is in Prague on February 17, with the second at Anfield a week later. The Reds have won a wall-full of European trophies in their illustrious history, and Sparta’s experienced midfielder Libor Sionko said he was looking forward to the tie.
“Of course I’m looking forward to it, they’re one of the biggest clubs in Europe, so who wouldn’t want to play there. We’ll be hyped up and won’t need any extra motivation, but obviously they are the favourites.”
Czech tennis fans enjoyed something of a treat on Saturday when the world women’s number one Caroline Wozniacki appeared for Prostějov in the finals of the country’s Extraliga, helping the south Moravian team to a 5:1 win over Přerov. Wozniacki, who has been training in Prostějov ahead of the new season, said she had taken part in the match as a way to thank the local people.
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