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Jiři Pliska: “I Still Feel Young and Love To Train”

Jiři Pliska, eD System Silvini Team, has been around long-distance skiing for a long time. He finished Vasaloppet in 17th place and proved that he is still performing at a high level.

Photo: Magnus Östh/Visma Ski Classics

Jiři Pliska, eD System Silvini Team, during Vasaloppet 2022.

ProXCskiing talked to him about his plans and his thoughts about Ski Classics.

Jiři Pliska has been around cross-country skiing for a long time. The 40-year-old skier from the Czech Republic has been competing in the Visma Ski Classis circuit since 2012 when he finished 51st on his home country event, Jizerská50.

The Czech Pro Tour skier is one of the eD System Silvini Team’s prominent faces and still performs at the top level. Despite being in his 40’s, Jiři still feels young, and he has the will to keep training and improving. As a matter of fact, he finished Vasaloppet in the 17th position.

ProXCskiing talked to Jiři to know the goals and ambitions that this athlete has for his career and to know what he thinks about the development of long-distance skiing in the Czech Republic.

You have performed very well at Tartu Maraton and Vasaloppet. Have you changed your training specifically to Vasaloppet?

“After Jizerská50, I knew my shape was quite good, and my body responded better during longer races, but you never know. There are too many variables, but I aimed for the top 20. My training went almost perfectly until the end of October when I got ill twice, one of the times with Covid-19, just a few weeks before the start of the season. That ruined my form significantly.”

“I took a big training block around Christmas, and then I felt strong again. After the real start of the season in January, I have done just a few very long sessions because of competing on the weekends and work duties during the week. But I like long trips on skis and roller skis, and I have done a lot of them (some with intensity included) through summer and Christmas.”

You are one of the elite skiers who still perform at a high level in their 40s. How do you keep in such a top shape? What tips would you give to master skiers aiming to follow your example?

“I still feel young, and I like to train. I like to train in nature and to spend time training with friends. I think consistency is key. I don’t believe in “extreme” sessions, although I do some for fun and challenge. There is no magic. Ski a lot of kilometers, some of them fast, add some strength, and do it for months. That takes a lot of your time, so it is always nice to include your family and friends. On roller skis, I often go with my girlfriend on her bicycle and friends with faster wheels.”

What are your ambitions for the rest of the season and the future?

“I’m looking forward to the rest of the season with races in the beautiful Scandinavian mountains, where there is a solid long-distance skiing atmosphere. I will do my best and see how it goes. For the future, I’m inspired by other athletes, and as always, I want to improve myself. Now, my goal is to hold on with the best skiers, and in the following years, I would like to be able to create a race.”

You have been around long-distance skiing and Visma Ski Classics for a long time. What do you think about the Pro Tour development over the last seasons?

“I really liked the new races around Toblach. Pustertaler Ski Marathon is a true classic, and the Prato Piazza Mountain Challenge is a tremendous challenge with Giro d’Italia feeling in beautiful surroundings.”

Finally, what do you think about the current state of long-distance skiing in the Czech Republic?

“Long-distance skiing is very popular in the Czech Republic. We already have thousands of recreational skiers, and on the weekends, the mountains are full of people enjoying the tracks. But on the other hand, there aren’t many young skiers who want to train hard and get involved in the Ski Classic events and teams. I hope we can show them that this sport is challenging and beautiful and worth the effort!”

Next up in the Visma Ski Classics is Birkebeinerrennet. The 54-kilometer classic race takes place in Norway on March 19, 2022.

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