In Sports News: speed skater Martina Sáblíková breaks her own world record in the women’s 5,000 metres; for first time in four efforts Záhrobská fails to win medal in Alpine World Cup Skiing Championships; Czech hockey clubs gear up for the playoffs; in the NHL, hockey forward Patrik Eliáš racks up milestone 800 pts; football’s Skácel scores 9th goal of season for Edinburgh; Petr Čech’s Chelsea are knocked out of FA Cup.
Czech speed skater Martina Sáblíková at the weekend set a new world record in the women’s 5,000 metres, breaking her own previous record from 2007. She broke the previous world record by nearly three seconds with a time of 6:42.66. The two-time gold medal winner at the Vancouver Winter Olympics made it clear before the race at the Salt Lake City circuit in the US that she intended to set a new record, but said later she that she could not believe the initial times given to her by her trainer. The 5,000 metres is the longest distance in women’s speed skating.
Downhill skier Šárka Záhrobská failed on Saturday to win a medal at the Alpine World Cup Skiing Championship at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, finishing in 12th spot. The result was especially disappointing given the skier had clinched medals at previous championships three times running (she won a silver medal at the event in Val d'Isére in 2009). On Saturday, Austrian Marlies Schild took the gold. Záhrobská was already 15th after the first round with an almost three second gap to make up. She improved during her second run but was unable to make up the gulf. The latest event equals a poor start to the season for the Czech skier.
Teams in the top hockey league in the Czech Republic are readying for the playoffs, after the final 52nd round was played at the weekend. In the regular Extraliga season Třinec finished in top spot with 92 points and were awarded the President’s Trophy but neither team captain Radek Bonk nor any of the other players touched it out of superstition ahead of the knock-out rounds. In the playoffs, Vítkovice will face České Budějovice, Zlín will take on Pardubice. The two top clubs, Třinec and the Liberec White Tigers still have to wait for the two best teams in final playoff qualifier: Slavia versus Karlovy Vary and Litvínov versus Plzeň.
In the NHL, the New Jersey Devil’s Patrik Eliáš has reached a milestone 800 points over the course of his career (328 goals, 472 assists) - the highest number by any Czech player still active in the league. He racked up the points over 15 seasons, bested only by Czech great Jaromír Jágr who had 646 goals and 953 assists in the NHL, (now he plays for Russia’s Omsk in the KHL). Besides Eliáš are two other active NHL players in the Czech ‘top ten’: Milan Hejduk with 746 points and Václav Prospal with 660.
Midfielder Rudolf Skácel is enjoying excellent form in the Scottish Football League where he plays for Edinburgh. On Saturday he scored his ninth goal for Hearts turning around a match against Dundee United, tying up the game at 1:1. Hearts went on to score one more to win the game and the team has not lost at home eight games in a row. Hearts are now in 3rd spot in the league, within striking distance of Rangers and Celtic.
Czech goalkeeper Petr Čech was unable to save English club Chelsea from going out of the FA Cup in the club’s 4th round reply at home to Everton on Saturday. The goalie was powerless when Everton clawed their way back to force a penalty shoot-out when Leighton Baines fired in a free kick in the dying minutes of extra time. In the penalties, an early save by Čech on the spot kick by Baines put Chelsea ahead, but Everton came back to take the shoot-out 4:3. Chelsea had wanted to become the first club in 125 years to win the FA Cup three years in a row.