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The Championships in Liberec have come to a close; the whole world speaks highly of them

The last event, the 50 km Men´s race, was on the schedule of the 47th FIS Nordic World Ski Championships Liberec 2009 today. The last world champion...

The Headmaster won the last race

The winner of the last event of the 47th FIS Nordic World Ski Championships LIBEREC 2009 is known already. Rightly it is the phenomenal Petter Northug...

Getting the world skiing to the Czech Republic was not easy or Looking behind the scenes of ski diplomacy

28. 02 2009 08:30:00

(Liberec, own) Ladislav Slonek is an important figure both of Czech as well as international skiing. He was born in Nove Mesto na Morave where skiing had been a long tradition in the family. He was a top athlete himself and took part at the Olympics in Innsbruck. For years he was involved in organizing the Golden Ski in Nove Mesto; he was also director of the race. He was a Czechoslovak and later Czech representative in FIS. For many years he worked at Faculty of Forestry of Mendel University in Brno, several times in the position of the Dean of the Faculty.
* It has been said that you personally pushed through the idea of getting the world skiing to the Czech Republic, or Czechoslovakia. How did it all go_
Well, I was there but it was a collective work. You cannot organize such thing on your own. But the author of the Nordic World Ski Championships is our emigrant Vladimir Pacl. By the way, it was him that arranged for the World Championships to take place in High Tatras in 1970. He was secretary of the FIS Cross-Country Committee and one of the founders of the World Cup and the author of the first FIS rules for cross-country skiing. When he emigrated he took with him an application of Nove Mesto na Morave for the World Cup. The application needed to be paid for which never happened in our case. Later it was claimed that a German journalist Kirhofer was the author of the rules. The reason was that although FIS appeared to be “impartial”, they didn´t like emigrants. Thanks to Pacl Czechoslovakia got to the original trial round for the World Cup which was then split up into its western and eastern parts. Czechoslovakia was the most able country to organize such event and that´s why we got it. Of course, it also took place in the USSR compulsorily but it didn't reach similar standards at all. While we arranged for visas and interpreters, the Russians were not ready for it.
* How did you get into the team that prepared the World Cup_
I come from Nove Mesto na Morave and my grandfather founded the first ski factory there. The skis were made after a Norwegian design; the first pair is at the Horacke Museum in Nove Mesto but I have another pair at my cottage. My grandfather was very active, he had a lot of children and all of them were into skiing. I myself competed too. Between 1963 and 1964 a new team of officials was being created at the Ski Association; by the way, Jaroslav Honcu, the current Secretary General of the WSC Organizing Committee was there, for instance. Together with him I was sent to the Olympic Games in Innsbruck. He later worked as a coach, I worked as a serviceman. After the World Championships in High Tatras we realized that there are good conditions for such competitions in Bohemia. Later I worked in top positions at the Ski Association and FIS for many years. Today I rather stay in the background and I enjoy this beautiful sport.
* Do you like the Championships in Liberec, especially when you compare it with other Championships_
It is very much different, first if you take mass media. There is an incredible number of broadcasting vans and other equipment. These Championships are handled perfectly. And considering the fact that large numbers of spectators didn´t come to all events_ It is not the organizers´ fault. Moreover, record numbers of spectators came for the Men´s relay race. We probably don´t realize it fully, but the world crisis can be felt in many areas. Why the Poles aren´t here_ The Polish zloty had dropped to incredible lows within a couple of months and it is a fact that a family trip could spiral out to six or seven thousand.
* A lot of people taking part in the preparations of the Championships here or preparations of the World Cups are former cross-country skiers. Why do you think it is so_
Well, that´s not entirely the case, for example Marco Mapelli came from an office job. But in general, the experience of a competitor and a coach might come very handy. There are many competitors who have crossed over to the official positions. Let´s mention, for example, Zora Honzlova, a former excellent Czechoslovak cross-country skier, today Director of the E.ON Golden Ski in Nove Mesto na Morave, Assistant Chief of Competition here at the Championships.
* And what about the Olympic Games_ Do you think that we Czechs could also manage to organize them_
Certainly, when you consider the organisational aspect. But such a big event requires absolute support in all places. We have lost the candidacy for the Nordic World Ski Championships several times with Harrachov being the candidate town three times and Liberec winning on the fourth occasion only. Being a candidate country for the Olympic Games is much more complicated and it requires a lot of patience and endurance. But I would definitely be very glad if the event of such magnitude could take place here.
Many thanks for your answers from Radka Stavova







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