In Sports News: The Czech team readies for Norway in its opening game at the World Junior Ice Hockey Championship; in the Extraliga, league leaders Vítkovice battle back from three goals down against lowly Kladno; Jágr helps Avangard sink Dinamo Minsk in the KHL; cyclo-cross racer Radomír Šimůnek, jr. suffers collar bone break in World Cup race; more than 150 people take part in the annual polar bear plunge into the Vltava River.
The Czech Republic’s U20 hockey team is readying for what promises to be an exceptionally tough World Junior Ice Hockey Championship which has gotten under way in the US. The Czechs face top contenders Canada, Sweden, Russia, and play their opening match against Norway on December 28. Both Sweden and Canada have already gotten off to winning starts. Only the three best teams in the group will advance to the next round. The Czechs will be relying on the skills of players like forward David Tůma (of Sparta Prague), defenceman Adam Sedlák (Ottawa 67’s in the Ontario Hockey League) and netminder Marek Mazanec (Plzeň). This year’s World U20 Championship is the fifth to be held in the US; in the past, Czech teams have done well there, bringing back three medals – the last from Grand Forks in 2005.
The Christmas holidays saw little slowdown in the top Czech hockey league, the Extraliga, with a couple surprises along the way: league-leaders Vítkovice got quite a scare from lowly Kladno which led 3:0 after two periods. But Vítkovice refused to give up and were able to battle back in the final period. Klimek made it three-apiece and defenceman Trnka decided it in overtime: the final score 4:3 in favour of Vítkovice. Vítkovice remain atop the standings, three points ahead of second-place Třinec. Kladno meanwhile stay in 13th place, nine points ahead of last place Mladá Boleslav.
Thirty-eight-year-old star Czech forward Jaromír Jágr has been showing
good form in the KHL (the Kontinental Hockey League) racking up points in
his last four games. In Avangard’s match against Dinamo Minsk in the
Belarusian capital, Jágr assisted on his team’s opener and also scored
later in the match to put Avangard 4:0. Dinamo came back with three but
Avangard were able to hold on for the win, Jágr’s goal proved the
winner. Fellow Czech player, Petr Sýkora, also scored in the match.
Cyclo-cross racer Radomír Šimůnek, jr. suffered injury after a nasty fall in the sixth World Cup race in cyclo-cross at Heusen-Zolder, breaking his collar bone on a steel railing. He had to undergo operation. Šimůnek, the son of legendary racer Radomír, sr. who died earlier this year at the age of just 48, is the number one Czech racer in the absence of World Champion Zdeněk Štybar, who is out with injury.
More than 150 people took part in the annual polar bear plunge into the Vltava River on Sunday, honouring a tradition that goes back to 1923. The vast majority are members of the Club of Hardy Men and Women and the youngest participant was just 13 years old. The air temperature was -6 degrees Celsius while the water was 2.5 degrees. Around half of those in the water completed a longer route of 750 metres.
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