Cross-country skiing best hope of more medals for Czech Republic in Turin

Photo: CTK

We are about two-thirds of the way through the Winter Olympics in Turin, and so far they haven't gone as well for the Czech Republic as many Czech fans would have hoped. The country has two medals, silver for both Katerina Neumannova and Lukas Bauer in cross-country skiing. But ski jumper Jakub Janda had a disastrous Olympics, an injured Ales Valenta didn't even make the final in freestyle aerial skiing, and the ice hockey team have yet to find any real rhythm. Czech Radio's Petr Soucek is in Turin - I asked him if there was some feeling of disappointment in the Czech camp.

Photo: CTK
"Well, you are right, we had expected more medals than we have so far but I don't think the atmosphere in the Czech team is...destroyed by this fact."

A lot of people of course are interested in the ice hockey team - they haven't done so well so far, though before the games they were one of the favourites. Do you think there's a feeling among the team that they can improve and can do better towards the end of the competition?

"The system here is that the most important game is the game in the quarter-finals, which the Czech team will play tomorrow. This will be the most important game of the whole tournament."

And speaking to the players do you get the feeling that they believe they can go all the way?

"Yes, the believe it. That is their most important task here - they came to Torino for a medal."

Katerina Neumannova,  photo: CTK
Now we are about two-thirds of the way through the Winter Olympics, there are four or five more days to go. What else do you think Czech fans can look forward to? What are the big events coming up - is it Katerina Neumannova in the cross-country skiing?

"Yes, exactly. I think that cross-country skiing is probably, except for the hockey, now the only discipline or event where we can achieve a medal. Katerina Neumannova will race in the 30 km, Lukas Bauer in the 50 km - let's hope they will enrich their medal collections and also enrich the collection of the Czech team.

"There is a, let's say, slight hope in speed skating, where Martina Sablikova will skate in her strongest distance, the 5 km, but she is injured at the moment, and we don't know what shape she is in."