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Escape from Russia. The main thing was to get to Europe, says the Czech skier

You flew to Russia straight from the Olympics in China. Were you already afraid of such a development?

Clearly. Someone didn’t think about it, but we agreed with more people after the Olympic race that it was strange that they should race there. But at that moment, no one had anything in hand, just waiting, which I understand. But I’ve been watching the situation since Monday.

Even after the Russian attack, the first reaction of the FIS ski federation was that it would normally take place when the fights are far from the race venue. But you didn’t want to race anymore…

I don’t really know who initiated it. But on Thursday the attack came and gradually the boycott was talked about more and more. After Thursday’s training, I also talked about it with the head of the FIS ski section and he said that they would not cancel the race. Although it occurred to me that he himself was wrong and had a different opinion. But the coaches agreed that they did not want to go, the Germans received an order from home. There were also athletes who said that when they were there, they wanted to go, it was their job and they were safe there, which was also true.

Did you make it clear that you didn’t want to race under these circumstances?

I knew I didn’t want to go, it was unimaginable for me. But I knew it was important to have bigger teams, I couldn’t do anything alone.

We were accommodated in such huts and met for a meal in one room. We had breakfast and watched the Russian qualifiers. Everyone arranged tickets, but the organizers did not want to give us a shuttle to the airport, even though we had a pre-arranged plane on Friday morning. They said that on Saturday at the earliest, they wanted to keep us from qualifying.

Some expeditions allegedly left on their own.

The British and Australians packed up on Thursday and persuaded someone to take them to the airport. Even though they had one and two competitors, it was easier than with larger teams.

How did you handle the departure? Did the FIS or the Czech Union help you?

FIS in general, I solved it remotely with the help of my father, they also helped me from the Czech Union and find out information from the ministry so that we could leave as soon as possible.

The Czechia has already closed the airspace for Russian aircraft, there was not much time.

That was our biggest concern. I knew we didn’t want to fly with the Russians, one flight with Aeroflot was canceled the day before. So we flew from Chelyabinsk via Moscow on the last flight with CSA. We still had the option via Frankfurt, if it didn’t work out, but the main thing for us was to get to Europe…

Did all the competitors manage to fly away?

While it was supposed to be Daniel’s first start among the elite, you already have a lot of World Cup experience. But the memory of this journey will certainly be very strong.

Certainly. As everyone remembers where he was during the 9/11 attacks, I will definitely remember where I was when the war in Ukraine began…

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