Bauer takes second in Jizerská padesátka
Grueling 50-kilometer event won by Norway's Aukland for the third time
Posted: January 16, 2013
Eirik Brandsdal of Norway leads during the men's 6 x 1.6 km team sprint World Cup race in Liberec Jan. 13. Mikhail Devjatiarov and Nikolay Morilov of Russia won ahead of Brandsdal and Pål Golberg.
Imagine running a marathon. Now imagine covering the same distance, plus a bit more, on skis. That was the challenge facing some 5,000 people who took part in the 46th Jizerská padesátka Jan. 13.
Ranging between the ages of 15 to 83, they braved the freezing conditions to tackle the 50-kilometer event, a mainstay of the Czech winter sports calendar held annually in the Jizera Mountains of north Bohemia.
While the amateur competitors slowly made their way around the course, consuming a reported 450 kilograms of bananas and 30,000 liters of tea as they went, the professionals were contesting a tight race at the head of the field.
The Czech Republic's Lukáš Bauer, who is more used to racing in shorter cross-country events, shot out of the starting blocks like a man on a mission and quickly built up an early lead. However, he was eventually chased down and overtaken by Norwegian Anders Aukland, a veteran of the event, who made his move with three kilometers to go.
It was Aukland's third Jizerská padesátka victory, with three-time Winter Olympic medalist Bauer coming home less than half a minute later. Ensuring the podium was a family affair, Anders' brother Jørgen finished in third place.
Elsewhere, down the road at the World Cup competition in Liberec, Sweden's Teodor Peterson and Norway's Mona-Lisa Malvalehto took the honors in their respective sprint classics, while bucking the trend of Scandinavian winners, Russian pair Mikhail Devjatiarov and Nikolay Morilov edged out their Norwegian rivals in the men's team event.
Football: Hotshot Lafata leaves Jablonec for Sparta
If at first you don't succeed, try, try again, as the famous maxim goes, and that was certainly the case for Sparta Praha in their pursuit of David Lafata. Having been rebuffed by Jablonec last summer, Sparta finally got their man Jan. 11 when the striker agreed to move to the Generali Arena for an undisclosed fee.
He has signed a three-and-a-half-year deal at the club and is expected to immediately slot into a side that currently sits third in the Gambrinus liga, with Reds coach Vítĕzslav Lavička hinting he would change his formation to accommodate the 31-year-old.
"The signing of David is a clear indication to everyone that Sparta want to show power and quality, not only on the Czech scene but also in Europe," Lavička told reporters. "We want to play with two forwards and adapt our style of play to make the most of David's scoring abilities."
Lafata, the Czech league's top scorer for the past two seasons, has found the net 13 times already this term, helping Jablonec to second place in the table. However, he admitted the prospect of a last 32 Europa League tie with Chelsea Feb. 14 was too good to turn down.
"I'm really happy; my dream has come true," he said. "Thanks to Jablonec I got to a certain level, and I would like to thank them for releasing me for this transfer, which marks a step forward in my career."
Sparta have further boosted their title chances by securing the services of Slovan Liberec's highly rated midfielder Lukáš Vacha, while David Pavelka and Martin Frýdek have gone in the other direction.
Tennis: Czech players progress in Melbourne
Petra Kvitová defeated Francesca Schiavone Jan. 15 to reach the second round of the Australian Open, where she will meet Britain's Laura Robson. The 22-year-old has struggled to find her form so far this season, and had to survive a second-set comeback from the Italian before prevailing 6-4 2-6 6-2.
In a clash between two former Grand Slam winners, Kvitová - a Wimbledon champion - dug deepest in the decider, breaking her opponent twice to set up the date with Robson. "It's always a big fight against [Schiavone]," the eighth-seeded Kvitová told the crowd afterward. "I knew what to expect."
The Czech No. 1's success rounded off a good start to the tournament for the country's women, with Lucie Šafářová, Kristýna Plíšková, Lucie Hradecká and Klára Zakopalová also recording wins. Only Karolína Plíšková and Andrea Hlaváčková failed to advance.
Meanwhile, in the men's draw, Radek Štĕpánek and Tomáš Berdych booked their places in the next round in contrasting fashions. Davis Cup hero Štĕpánek overcame the big-hitting Viktor Troicki in a tough five-set duel, while Berdych was rarely troubled as he swept past America's Michael Russell 6-3 7-5 6-3.
"It was three sets, but I was still able to get into my rhythm," the No. 5 seed told reporters. "Not staying that long on court was also a positive, especially at the beginning [of the tournament] to be able to save some energy."
There was also a victory for Lukáš Rosol, who got the better of British hopeful Jamie Baker 7-6 7-5 6-2.
Jonathan Crane can be reached at
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