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Czech Team at the World Surfing Games 2024

Petr Novotný preparing his boards for the competition. Photo: Czech surfing/Adam Svoboda

The opening ceremony of the 2024 ISA World Surfing Games is coming tomorrow, and the Czech team will be there once again. Our national team will get the opportunity to compete against such giants of world surfing as Carissa Moore, John John Florence, Sally Fitzgibbons, or Felipe Toledo. Find out in this article who are the members of the national team, what awaits them in Puerto Rico, and where you can watch the event.

The nomination for the national team for this year's WSG took place at the Czech-Slovak Surfing Cup events in France, Portugal, and Bali. The two best results out of the three competitions were counted, and the battle was truly intense this year. Jana Kašová, the only competitor who secured her nomination after two European events already, was joined in December in Bali by a quintet consisting of Paula Kutá, Klára Kováříková, Petr Novotný, Robert Vysloužil, and Adam Svoboda. For Klára and Adam, it will be their debut appearance at the world championship.

The national team of the Czech Republic. Photo: Czech surfing

Letošní světové hry jsou poslední možností kvalifikace na Olympijské hry v Paříži (pro surfing ta Paříž ale úplně neplatí, jelikož závod v surfingu se odehraje ve Francouzské Polynesii na ostrově Tahiti), takže na nich nebudou chybět největší hvězdy světového surfingu. Akce odstartuje v pátek 23. února zahajovacím ceremoniálem, který zahrnuje vlajkový průvod a tradiční ceremonii sypání písku. Obou těchto částí se zúčastní všech 55 národních týmu, které se na letošní světové hry přihlásily. A nebude mezi nimi kromě našeho týmu poprvé v historii chybět ani tým ze Slovenska, k čemuž našim východním bratrům a sestrám obrovsky gratulujeme! Vlajku českého týmu ponese Petr Novotný a písek, který pochází i letos z pražské Štvanice, bude do společné nádoby sypat Jana Kašová.

This year's World Games represent the last chance for qualification for the Olympic Games in Paris (although Paris doesn't exactly apply to surfing, as the surfing competition will take place in French Polynesia on the island of Tahiti), so the biggest stars of world surfing will not be absent. The event will kick off on Friday, February 23, with the opening ceremony, which includes a flag parade and the traditional sand pouring ceremony. All 55 national teams participating in this year's WSG will participate in both of these events. And for the first time in their surfing history, the team from Slovakia will also be there - congratulations to our Eastern brothers and sisters! The flag of the Czech team will be carried by Petr Novotný, and the sand, which this year also comes from Prague's river island Štvanice, will be poured into the common container by Jana Kašová.

Last year's ceremonial opening. Photo: ISA and Czech surfing

The competition takes place in the city of Arecibo on the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico. For most of the competitors, it's their first surfing and traveling experience to this side of the Atlantic. The blend of American and Hispanic culture in this unincorporated territory of the United States has intrigued the fresh team member Klára Kováříková: "Puerto Rico is a beautiful and diverse country. It's heavily influenced by America, with various fast-food outlets, supermarkets, and American cars at every turn. I would like to highlight that the local people are extremely friendly and willing to help with anything."

The first part of the expedition, which included not only Klára but also Jana Kašová and Adam Svoboda, arrived at the destination two weeks in advance to have the best opportunity to familiarize themselves with the specifics of the local surfing spots. "It depends on the conditions at the moment. Generally, it's mostly an A-frame wave, with left-handers prevailing. With bigger conditions, the spots can be quite dangerous, as there are reef breaks, and in some places, there isn't much water. Sea urchins are dangerous, they are everywhere by the entrance to the water and inside when riding the wave, too," Klára evaluated her impressions of the local conditions, with Adam adding that his left foot is already full of sea urchins from poorly estimating the exit from a training session. This group, representing not only the Czech Republic but also the Prague Surf Club, is staying at the villa 'paštika' near the competition spots, and they are thoroughly enjoying their acclimatization time, especially thanks to the excellent fish tacos, which are their favorite way to satisfy hunger after training.

Besides sea urchins, the local spots are mainly interesting because of their quality. "The competition waves El Pico and Rastrial are perfect and high-quality waves. Fast left-handers offer several sections for turns, airs, or barrels. So, it's like having a favorable menu!" evaluated Robert Vysloužil, who arrived in Puerto Rico with Petr Novotný only this week, and with a smile, he added that his experiences from the game 'The Floor is Lava' come in handy during wave rides. Both athletes flew directly from Bali and stayed with the Slovak team, who reside near the villa 'paštika.'

Arecibo in recent days. Photo: Czech surfing / Adam Svoboda

The team is generally in good spirits, and it seems that pre-race nerves haven't yet affected the representatives. "After arriving, I was a bit tired from the long journey, but somehow I managed to put it together. The competitive atmosphere is starting to get to me a bit more, so I'm looking forward to what awaits us here and how it will be. I feel like it's a bit challenging to maintain a healthy perspective here and to understand why we're among all these sharks that are here,'" assessed Adam, for whom this year's World Games are the first of such experience. Apart from slight fatigue, other team members also feel excellently prepared for the race. "I feel fantastic. The last few months spent in Bali were mainly focused on preparing for the race in Puerto Rico, both physically, technically, and mentally. So, I feel in the best shape of my life," even commented Robert.

My goals are to perform as well as I can, ideally with a better result than last year. I enjoy this wave, so it could be great. On the other hand, the competition is tough," explained Jana Kašová, the top Czech surfer of last year, who already has experience from last year's championship. "I feel good. Less nervous than last year in El Salvador," she added.

In the Bali part of the team, ambitions are much higher: "The goal is clear, the Olympic Games in Paris!" repeated with a hint of exaggeration Petr Novotný, founder of Bali Cliff Surf Club, his goal from last year. Then, more seriously, he added that his main motivation is to gain experience that he would like to pass on to the younger generation and also to motivate other Czech surfers to devote themselves more intensively to surfing.

Petr Novotný, Jana Kašová and Paula Kutá at last year's ISA WSG. Photo: ISA

We have two new members in the team, and it's great to see how they're already contributing with their different approaches. The whole team is working hard, and everyone is looking forward to their heats. Our goal is to defend the position of the best inland team in the competition and at the same time improve the individual standings of our representatives in the overall ranking," evaluated the dynamics and goals of the team by national team coach Goncalo Silva, who has been coaching the team for a year and a half and led them to last year's success in El Salvador. "Unfortunately, this year's situation is a bit more complicated than in El Salvador. Due to institutional changes, team manager Matyáš Menšík and other team members couldn't travel to Puerto Rico. Also, due to a lack of finances, the team is staying in three separate places, which complicates the preparation. Nevertheless, everyone is giving their hundred percent and giving everything they have," he compared last year's and this year's conditions.

The lack of finances for preparation is unfortunately something that all team members are dealing with. "It requires a lot of creativity and pursuing your goal. Because I want it, I somehow manage to earn and raise more money than I would have if I were at home. And actually, I also work from here, although in a slightly lighter regime than usual. At the same time, I've also managed to secure sponsors who have contributed to me, and I would like to thank them a lot!" explains Jana Kašová her method of financing her preparation. "I'm seeking my sponsors and actively trying to raise funds for the representation so that we can at least have our coach from Portugal here. I think that in the future, this is unsustainable, and something needs to change in the structure of the main organization so that surfers have the opportunity to obtain funding for both adult and youth representation from the state. It's a very financially demanding sport, and this situation is unsustainable in the long run," added Adam Svoboda, who, besides his racing role, had to take on the role of team manager. We also hope that brighter times are ahead in this regard. And mainly thanks to the work of our athletes.

Moments from the last moments before the competition. Photo: Czech surfing / Adam Svoboda

New competition and human experiences, as well as new friendships, including with members of the Jamaican team. These are the main things our representatives would like to take away from the World Surfing Games. But we're getting ahead of ourselves. In just two days, the first of them will face their heats in the first round. Whether any of them will meet Sally Fitzgibbons or Kanoa Igarashi in the heat, we'll find out tonight when the draw for the first round is expected to be announced. It all kicks off on Saturday morning, and then it will be heat after heat until March 3, when the big final is expected.

Support our team, send them some encouraging messages, and follow our social media for the latest updates!


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