Sports News

Photo: CTK

In this rather seasonal Sports News: seventy-one hardy fellows (and ladies) brave the freezing River Vltava for an annual St Stephen's Day swim; former football internationals take part in an annual indoor tournament; Milan Baros scores while Petr Cech makes a terrible error; and Vladimir Ruzicka Jr follows in his father's footsteps, scoring his first goal in the national ice hockey league at 16.

Hardy fellows take part in annual Vltava swim

Photo: CTK
People who engage in the unusual sport of swimming in freezing cold water are known as "otuzilci" ("hardy fellows") in Czech. In Prague 71 "otuzilci" went for a swim in the Vltava River on St Stephen's Day, the 59th time the event has been held. Among the 71 were 13 hardy ladies, and the remarkable Ladislav Nicek, who this year celebrated his 92nd birthday.

"It's my 56th year, it's terrible! Anyone who gets into this icy water will tell you how happy they are to get warm afterwards. But it's really pleasant that a body is able to take part!"

Among the other participants - who chose between 100- and 300-m courses - were Yvetta Hlavacova, Richard Haan and Stanislav Bartuska, three Czechs who swam the English Channel this year.

And in case you're wondering, the water on Monday was 3.7 degrees Celsius, which is not as cold as some years.

Former internationals play annual Stephen's Day tournament

Another event which drew the spectators on Monday was the 11th annual indoor football tournament of former internationals, held at Prague's Eden hall. Among the Czech - and Slovak - stars of yesteryear were Jan Berger, Jozef Chovanec and the great Antonin Panenka.

Baros scores twice, Cech on winning side despite howler

Milan Baros,  photo: CTK
As for today's Czech international stars, Milan Baros scored twice for Aston Villa in their 4:0 win over Everton on Monday, though he admitted his first goal came after he had handled the ball. Meanwhile - on one of the busiest days of the year in England's Premier League - a dreadful and most uncharacteristic mistake by goalkeeper Petr Cech allowed Fulham to draw level with Cech's Chelsea, but they eventually ran out 3:2 winners.

Vladimir Ruzicka Jr emulates famous father with first league goal at 16

Vladimir Ruzicka Jr  (right),  photo: CTK
Slavia Prague increased their lead at the top of ice hockey's Extraliga to four points after beating second placed Liberec 3:1. The match was most notable for the scoring debut of Vladimir Ruzicka Jr, whose father is Slavia's coach. Whereas Vladimir the elder scored his first league goal in his first game at the age of 16, it took Vladimir the younger - also 16 - eight games to get on the score sheet. He said it was all the more memorable as he had scored past Czech international goaltender Milan Hnilicka.

Overlooking of Kotalik only surprise of Winter Olympics hockey squad announcement

Martin Erat,  photo: CTK
Hnilicka is the only member of the Czech squad for the Turin Winter Olympics who does not play in the NHL. The only real surprise in the squad - announced last week by coach Alois Hadamczik - is the inclusion of Martin Erat of Nashville ahead of Ales Kotalik of Buffalo: after Jaromir Jagr, Kotalik is the highest placed Czech in the NHL players' points table.