Training and gardening. Athletes did not waste time during lockdown

Training and gardening. Athletes did not waste time during lockdown

LIFESTYLE

Relaxing at home, cycling, running in the woods, family. That, in a nutshell, is how sports stars associated with the ŠKODA brand spent their time in quarantine limbo.

18. 6. 2020

While being stuck at home started to pall sooner or later for most of us, for ŠKODA ambassadors these were welcome and precious moments. They don’t see much of their family during competition season, but now they’ve been able to maximise their “quality time”.

Coronavirus may have spoilt their training plans or stopped their season and competitions from getting off the ground, but there were no complaints from any of the sportspeople who described their lockdown experiences to us. They welcomed the chance to get down to some strength or endurance training.

Kristián Hynek
cyclist

I thought long and hard about ending my career this year. But then I decided that this wasn’t how I wanted to say goodbye to our great sport and my career.

“I have more time for things that have a longer-term effect. I went back to building up my strength and focused more on sprints. I wouldn’t normally do that, because it’s hard to train that properly during the competition season,” says Cees Bol, a talented young sprinter from the SunWeb cycling team.

Will the Tour de France take place or not? Nobody knew, so Dutch cyclist Cees Bol kept in shape.


It was the same for biker Kristián Hynek, who had been training hard since the start of the season for his last ever professional race, the Cape Epic, which was due to start of 15 March. “I thought long and hard about ending my career this year. But then I decided that this wasn’t how I wanted to say goodbye to our great sport and my career, which means that the 2021 season is still open,” he describes, adding that although he spent lots of time on the bike rollers at home, he also cycled outdoors where, unlike Bol, he focused on volume training at lower intensities.

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The man who came second in last year’s mountain bike marathon world championship and winner of the Cape Epic Kristian Hynek did not sit around - instead, he donned a face mask and delivered sandwiches to everyone in Prague who needed them.


Home gym and virtual races

Rally champion Jan Kopecký did not neglect physical training either, putting in the hours in his small home gym. What’s more, he lives by a forest where he went for regular runs. Eighteen-year-old Swedish driver Oliver Solberg has an interesting way of staying fit: he drives quads in the countryside around his home. This year was supposed to be his debut season in the world championships, so he would have a reason to be doubly disappointed. 

Oliver Solberg
rally driver

I have to keep looking forwards and believe that we will start racing soon.

“That’s life. I have to keep looking forwards and believe that we will start racing soon.” But Oliver didn’t waste his time. Along with other pros, he got behind the wheel of a ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo in the virtual world at least, taking part in the unique ŠKODA Motorsport eChallenge that let fans test their driving skills against the pros.

Swedish driver Oliver Solberg has been training on an exercise bike with his father Peter, who was world champion in 2003.


Ice hockey player Dominik Kubalík, who notched up a hat-trick in his outstanding debut season in the NHL, worked out at home. But he didn’t overdo it. “After coming back from the States I had a few weeks of taking it easy, just like I do at the end of every season. I kept myself fit by doing weights and cycling. But only a little – the season was really tough and I needed to rest. I did a lot of stretching exercises. When the restrictions were loosened, I got back into training as usual.” 

Just before lockdown, Czech ice hockey player at the Chicago Blackhawks in the NHL notched up his first hat-trick, so he had no shortage of likes and shares.


Dominik Kubalík
hockey player

I kept myself fit by doing weights and cycling. But only a little – the season was really tough and I needed to rest. I did a lot of stretching exercises.

Goaltender Petr Mrázek, who played just one game in the NHL after getting back on the ice after injury, went roller-blading and regularly played golf. “It’s great that my partner is also a top-level sportswoman, so we could train together,” he says appreciatively.

At home, Czech ice hockey goaltender playing for the Carolina Hurricanes in the NHL remembered the ice and matches.


Gardening, online meetings and plans for the restart

During lockdown the NHL arranged regular videoconferences so that the players stayed in touch and were kept up-to-date about the situation and the outlook for the restart. At one of these “meetings” Dominik Kubalík told his colleagues that he was turning his hand to gardening and DIY. Apparently, his mother worked him hard in the garden – he tried everything from chopping wood to painting the shed. “I probably spent most of my time in the garden, and I found out that I enjoy it. One day I’d like to do this in my own home. Look after the garden and stuff like that. I’m no good at video games, so I turned off the PlayStation,” he said with a smile.

The restart of the sports season is around the corner for most ŠKODA ambassadors, and they are impatient to get competing again. “We believe we’ll start testing again very soon so that we’re ready for the first races. We also have time for a thorough analysis of this season’s completed rally races,” says young Swedish driver Oliver Solberg who works with the ŠKODA Motorsport team.

Jan Kopecký
rally driver

I am confident that a few kilometres at high speed will put me back in my racing mind-set.

Jan Kopecký isn’t afraid of getting behind the wheel of his ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo either: “I am confident that a few kilometres at high speed will put me back in my racing mind-set. The first race is supposed to take place in mid July. We are hopeful that the popular Rally Bohemia will happen and we’ll be able to give fans of our sport what they want.”

The 2018 WRC2 world champion, European champion and multiple Czech Republic champion competing for ŠKODA Motorosport trained at home with a new talent.


Dominik Kubalík now has a few weeks of full training behind him. “I reckon that the restart will be the same as the start of a new season, when everyone is in tiptop condition. If we get the chance to have a two-week training camp before the restart, the standard of matches will be the same as before the interruption, if you ask me,” he says.

Mental coach and weight loss

Caroline Hurricanes’ goaltender Petr Mrázek shares his opinion. “It’s all in your head. We haven’t played for over two months. If the NHL gets going again, I’d like to take psychology coach Marian Jelínek with me for the first few matches. I’m not doing any specific goaltender skills training right now, to tell the truth. If we go back to the States, we’ll have a few weeks to prepare. That’s when I’d concentrate on vision training, puck training and all the usual stuff,” he plans.

Petr Mrázek
goaltender

If the NHL gets going again, I’d like to take psychology coach Marian Jelínek with me for the first few matches.

“According to the UCI calendar, the first race should take place in August. I hope so. I already feel like I’m in good shape. My coach and I still have to work on my racing mentality. And because the area around my home in the Netherlands is flat as a pancake, I’m going to need some hills to train in,” cyclist Cees Bol says with a smile.

Cees Bol
cyclist

I already feel like I’m in good shape. My coach and I still have to work on my racing mentality.

Veteran biker Kristián Hynek is fixing his gaze on the national championships scheduled for the second half of July. “I don’t want to brag, but I’ve managed to stay in good shape through the lockdown period.  Food has been the only hitch, and that’s now the most important thing. I need to lose a kilo or two.”

#Ride2Unite

Pro cyclists Wilco Kelderman, Laurens Ten Dam, Andy Schleck, Michael Matthews, Jenny Rissveds and Phillip Gilbert supported the WeLoveCycling platform and its #Ride2Unite project during their voluntary isolation. The project is designed to keep the wider cycling community positive and motivated. Here, cycling fans can watch live-stream discussions with pros moderated by famous Spanish commentator Laura Meseguer or cycling events from the whole of Europe. On June 13, for example, there was a Swedish attempt by three ten-member teams under the #Ride2Unite banner to cover a distance of 315 km in under ten hours on three different course locations. You can see how they got on at welovecycling.com.

ŠKODA Motorsport eChallenge

Racing drivers Chris Ingram, Pontus Tidemand, Oliver Solberg, Miko Marczyk, José Suárez, Sebastien Bedoret, Martin Koči and Petr Semerád took part in the ŠKODA Motorsport eChallenge virtual race series organised by the ŠKODA Motorsport team during the pandemic, based on the DiRT Rally 2.0™ platform from Codemasters®. They competed on virtual rally courses in Argentina, Australia and Spain, giving motoring fans a unique opportunity to test their skills against real pros.

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