Milan Hejduk becomes second Czech to have NHL jersey retired; Czechs come fourth at World Junior Championship; best weekend of season for Czech biathlon team; record Czech participation in Dakar Rally; and Kvitová gets season off to winning start.
The former Czech ice hockey player Milan Hejduk received an enormous tribute at the weekend, when Colorado Avalanche retired his number 23 jersey. A modest man who shunned the limelight, Hejduk became – after goaltender Dominik Hašek – only the second Czech to receive such an honour. He spent his entire career at Colorado and holds the club record number of NHL appearances with 1,020.
Hejduk made this address to fans, which is recorded in a video on the Avalanche website:
“None of this would have been possible without my teammates. I was blessed, throughout my entire career, to play with some of the greatest players of our generation, or even history. Being named captain in November of 2011 was nothing short of a privilege. Thank you for welcoming my entire family here, a place we now call home. Thank you for your great support and for this tremendous honour.”
Milan Hejduk’s number 23 jersey was raised at the Colorado Avalanche’s stadium by members of the under 13 team the Czech coaches.
The Czech Republic came fourth at the World Junior Championship in ice hockey in the United States. The Czech Under 20s had done well in the group stage and overcame the Finns in the quarterfinals. However, they then collapsed in the semifinals against Canada, losing 2:7, before suffering another whitewash in the game for bronze, when they were beaten 9:3 by the hosts.
The Czech biathlon team have just had their best weekend in the World Cup so far this season at the German resort of Oberhof. Veronika Vítková’s third place in the sprint was the Czechs’ biggest individual success, while improved performances in cross-country skiing helped rack up some points for the men’s team. On the downside, in the foggy condition the Czech men failed to acquire points needed for the Nation Cup in the relay.
There are a record number of Czechs participating in this year’s edition of the Dakar Rally, the 40th. Thirty-six Czech competitors were ready at the starting line in Lima, Peru on Saturday, including eight motorcyclists, four quad riders, three car crews and six truck crews. The Czechs regarded as having the best chance of doing well in the world famous event include car driver Martin Prokop, motorcyclist Ondřej Klymčiw and the truck team of Aleš Loprais, Martin Kolomý and Martin Macík Jr.
Petra Kvitová got off to a winning start to the season in Sydney on Monday. The Czech easily overcame Mirjana Lučić-Baroni in the first set of their first round tie before the Croat retired. Also in Sydney Barbora Strýcová overcame Daria Kasatkina of Russia while Lucie Šafářová lost to Germany’s Angelique Kerber.