Lukáš Bauer first Czech cross-country skier to clinch World Cup title

05-03-2008

Until now no Czech cross-country skier had ever clinched the World Cup title, not even the great Kateřina Neumannová who won gold in the Turin Olympics. That has now changed: on Wednesday it became clear that this year Czech skier Lukáš Bauer will be crowned king, after his closest rival in the standings pulled out of competition. Now, no one can overtake him.

Lukáš Bauer, photo: CTKLukáš Bauer, photo: CTK Two years ago ski-jumper Jakub Janda won the World Cup title in ski jumping but never before has any Czech won the circuit in cross-country skiing. On Wednesday it all became academic after Germany’s René Sommerfeldt – the last competitor with at least a theoretical chance of catching Lukáš Bauer – failed to sign up for the latest World Cup sprint. With only a few races left, Bauer’s overall victory is now ensured. A little earlier I spoke to Čestmír Skrbek of the Czech Ski Association who called the developments “a great day” for Czech skiing.

“This a great success for Czech cross-country skiing and really meaningful for us, next to past wins in ski jumping and medals at the Olympics. It is reason to celebrate Lukáš Bauer is the first cross-country skier to ever have won the circuit: it is an historic result.”

Bauer and other skiers still face the tour’s final set of races – but most observers agree he is not the type of skier to lessen his drive, despite his guaranteed overall finish. Tomáš Kohout, a sports journalist for Czech Radio, says Bauer quite simply is not the type to give up:

Lukáš Bauer, photo: CTKLukáš Bauer, photo: CTK “He is still strong enough and has great motivation. He is a real racer and he loves racing. It was after the World Cup race in Liberec that in every next race he would try and do his very best. He will not have any problems with motivation. One of the races ahead is also very special: Holmenkollen is in Norway and it is totally different. The Norwegians love cross-country skiing: it’s really a nation of cross-country skiers. There are thousands and thousands of viewers, from little babies to grannies, all cheering everybody on. Another special aspect is that the winner is decorated by the Norwegian king.”

It has been reported that just last summer Lukas Bauer had briefly contemplated ending his career after suffering repeated health problems, but luckily for him, as well as for Czech sports fans, he didn’t entertain such ideas for long. Czech Radio reporter Tomáš Kohout again:

“He had big health problems his whole career but it wasn’t possible for him to quit his career over this. This is his first season in which he has really been healthy. Now he is healthy and we’ve seen him win.”

05-03-2008