Beer? Porcelain? What is the most typical thing offered by our land of ten million citizens, underneath the shadow of Mt. Sněžka? Years ago, Czech designers were searching for inspiration, when they received an assignment to create the trophy for champions of the most famous stages on the planet. Then it dawned on them. “Simply crystal!”
“The choice of material was clear and simple,” says Peter Olah, designer for ŠKODA. In 2011, Olah and the glassworkers on his team began writing the story of the cups, which has stood in the halls of fame in Australia, Britain, and also in Columbia.
This year‘s trophies will once again be created in the glass workshops at Lasvit and bear the signature look of the ŠKODA design department. The form of the trophy itself remains unchanged in comparison to previous years, but features creative ideas drawn from the concept of Mladá Boleslav’s first electric vehicle, VISON E, which was introduced mid-April at the Shangai Auto Show. Its dynamic lines have been reflected in this year’s trophies which embodies the modern form of Czech Crystal.
“All of the trophies for the Tour de France were created at Lasvit, except 2015’s, and each of them were made by hand-blowing crystal glass into forms and followed by glass cutting based on the design by Peter Olah,” explains Hana Klímová, communication manager for Lasvit and adds: “Making one trophy takes around 23 hours.”
THE FIRST GOLDEN KANGAROO
It is the same and yet it’s always different— that’s what the great Old Lady, as they’ve nicknamed the Tour de France, proves. The makers of the cups have given themselves the same goal in 2011, so that year by year, they transform and each cup is made with a different glass-making technology. “We thought for a while about making it a bowl or a plate,” Olah remembers. “But at the end we reached the idea that the best would be a vertical face.” And since this time, the trophy has had this form: the bottom part wide, as wide as the field of contestants who got in formation six years ago in the Vendée region of France, 3600 kilometers away from Paris. It narrows in the middle, like the Pyrenees and the Alps whittle down the field of favorites, and the top is cut off, as if by Cadel Evens, the first Australian to sit on the Tour’s throne. By the time trials at Grenoble on the second to last day of the race, he had already won the gold jersey. And under the Arc d’Triumph Evans gazed at the trophy’s under the Arc d’Triumph, admiring how its linear lines depicted a wheel rim, and said “I hope I brought a great deal of joy to my countrymen.”
GOD SAVE BRADLEY
From Lichtenstein to the City of Life in 23 days— this was the 2012 Tour de France, which saw the first Brit in history win the title after 87 hours of hard work, and marked the second time the skill of master Czech glassmakers was shown to the world. “The trophy was a celebration of handmade Czech crystal and precision,” explains Peter Olah, who designed the trophy. The style was based on Czech cubism and the irregular cuttings created a crystal structure full of glints. The blushing beauty of the the Ajeto glassworks in Lindava, who made the trophy for Lasvit, will forever be a memento for sir Bradley Wiggins, who may have uttered words similar to the name of the glassworks. “A je to!”, a Czech would say. “It is done!” Because, when the superteam Sky, with whom Wiggins rode, was formed, its team principal Brailsford declared that “in five years, we want a British winner for the Tour.” And this redhead with sideburns, who previously excelled at the velodrome and collected Olympic medals there, then dropped the excess kilos and learned to ride the hills, had already functionally fulfilled the Sky’s request in only the third year. When they congratulated him in Paris, he laughed saying “I am I now a legend? I’ll have to get used to that.”
CHAMPAGNE AND TEARS
“This was the 100th anniversary of the Tour,” recalls Peter Olah, and he needs not say more. It needed to be simply something exclusive and unforgettable, something apropos for a race full of dynamics, precision, and strength. These were the main goals, which Olah, a designer for the ŠKODA brand, sought to convey in his concepts for the trophies taken home by the overall champion of 2013, as well as the best sprinter (won by Peter Sagan) who was the best sprinter), for the king of the mountains, and for the most promising young rider. It was over 4 kilograms and is over 60 centimeters high. “We used a special opal coating technique on this trophy, which is later re-polished. The cuts, with their precision and geometric facets, are some of the most complicated.” These qualities mirror those of the Jubilee champion. Chris Froome’s journey to the Elysian Fields from his native Kenya ran through the highest academy of cycling in Europe and straight through 21 grueling stages throughout France. The second British citizen in a row to win the Tour de France, Froome drank the champagne on the stage and, in the reflections of the Elysian Fields he was moved. “I expected it to be big, but this was something else. It brought tears to my eyes.”
THE SOIRÉE OF SHARKS
There is a furnace, from which radiates heat, and around it stand the glass makers and… the concept VISION C. It seems odd that, in the northern Bohemia as it turns out, futuristic ideas for new ŠKODA vehicles were parked at the glass makers. However, when they witnessed this with their own eyes, the designers of the Tour de France trophy in 2014 understood the philosophy of the future and took the next step in its evolution. “The shape of the trophy had become instantly recognizable, and so we decided to develop it further along with the design used in the ŠKODA VISION C study,” Olah explains. Olah’s design played with a symphony of light curves, three-dimensional contours, and sharp lines. “The glass cutting creates a sparkling effect and the whole trophy gets brighter after the impact of the light.” A man shone similarly with euphoria at the end of the battle for the yellow jersey. “Vincere" means “Victory” and Vincenzo Nibali, or if you will, the Shark from Messina (as they called him on the peloton), says he has proven to be worthy of his name. Some might say he only triumphed because his two biggest rivals, Froome and Contador, dropped, but the Italian does not hesitate to retort: “Alberto and Chris could have influenced the race if they had stayed. But they didn’t.”
STARDUST FOR STARS
For years, anyone could read the name ŠKODA on the white jerseys, which the Tour de France draped over its most promising youth under the age of 25, but all of this changed in 2015. The Czech automotive manufacturer climbed the ladder of prestige and became the sponsor for the jersey awarded to the best sprinter. And the trophy, which was taken home by the Slovak speedster Peter Sagan, lived up to this honor. This trophy, like the three other trophies that year, received a completely new look called StarDust, which is thousands of crystals embedded in a glass mantle. “People have always tried to reach the stars,” says designer Peter Olah, “and these stars are the racers of the Tour de France whose performances are exceptional. We used a unique technology for glass inlays, which lit up the entire Champs-Élysées.” Chris Froome, who had to leave the previous year early with injured wrists and confidence, was there for the second time as the winner along with his Czech teammate Leopold König.
THE KENYAN ON THE RUN
A return to the past, a return to the era when ŠKODA had not yet manufactured cars and when the Tour de France still only eight years old. These were the reminiscences which were reflected in the trophy for the Grand Boucle in 2016. “So we returned a little bit to the roots of cycling,” said Peter Olah, whose signature is found on six other editions of trophies destined for the heroes of the Tour. “I received the idea when I walked through the ŠKODA museum and saw a bicycle displayed there. That was the first thing that Misters Laurent and Klement, founders of the ŠKODA brand, produced. I came out of there fascinated by the battles between competitors, wheel on wheel, and so we made a circular design, which symbolizes the spinning wheel.” And it was Chris Froome’s wheels that were spinning so busily. So if we go through his tracks during this interlude on the famous Mont Ventoux, we could also run over Froome’s tire as an accompanying erratic motorcycle did, rendering it inoperable. And so, Froome dashed after his goal on foot. Although the newspaper headlines reminded us that Froome is a Kenyan by birth, he endured this misfortune like a Brit on the way to his third yellow jersey in Paris.
WHICH TROPHY IS THE MOST VALUABLE?
AND CAN THEY BE COMPARED IN ANYWAY?
Bolt fought for his ninth goal medal in Rio de Janeiro, he became the most famous athlete of all time. And the Olympic gold is proof of exclusivity. “Now I am finally a legend,” the Jamaican announced.
Higher, faster, stronger is the motto of the Olympics and these are precisely the criteria that define the journey to all other trophies, which guide every athlete, every day, to the training hall.
Six kilograms of 18 karat gold entice every footballer in the world, who, every four years, meet to fight for the title as well as the trophy for the World Cup. Perhaps it does not have a the history as some of the following (it has only been awarded in its current form since 1974), but certainly it is one of the most ordinarily recognizable.
For the former Commonwealth and the cricket world, the trophy is an idol in the shape of a cup named The Ashes. And Petra Kvitová could tell you about the value of a bowl she took home twice in 2011 and 2014 from Wimbledon. The oldest of all of the famous trophies is the Stanley Cup which, was first won in 1893, and which over four dozen Czech hockey players in the NHL have won.