Smutná is a Visma Ski Classics Legend with eleven event victories. Among the eleven wins are two at Marcialonga, two at Jizerská50, and one at Vasaloppet, all three being Grand Classics events. The latest win came at La Diagonela 2019.
How did you come up with the idea of racing again, after almost a year of competition break?
“I already wanted to race last year just for myself, without a Pro Team, donating all the money from sponsors for charitable purposes to help people in need. In the end, I stayed at Lukas Bauer’s Team and went on throughout the season. Now, this year I am getting my chance. One of the main reasons for my start is to thank my sponsors, who have supported me throughout the past 5 years. Thanks to their products, I stayed healthy throughout all this time and was able to compete in Visma Ski Classics.”
Since she retired from professional long-distance skiing, Smutná has worked as a masseuse in an Austrian spa hotel up until November.
“During the mornings, I had enough time for long training sessions, which was ideal for me. Since summer I am even working with the Austrian National Team, so some fast sessions were also possible. I have trained intensively in the past two months, and now I have a quite good feeling. The form is slowly coming.”
Smutná started her long-distance skiing career in 2015 by winning both Jizerská50 and Marcialonga and finishing second at La Diagonela, König Ludwig Lauf, and Birkebeinerrennet. In Season V, she managed to win the Champion competition.
Your last competition was Årefjällsloppet 100 km. Are you missing to race?
“Of course, I am missing Visma Ski Classics. We were at Continental Cups as support at the beginning of the season, so I didn’t have time to watch the races. But last week I watched Marcialonga on TV, and it was difficult for me.”
When asking about her comeback expectations, Smutná comments with a smile.
“This is no comeback. I just want to race Jizerská50 for the joy of cross-country skiing. And, for the fans. Last year was a weird year without recreational skiers. It wasn’t fun.”
Will you be racing more events apart from Jizerská50 this season?
“Now, I’m saying this is my only event in Visma Ski Classics. But who knows if I maybe race Vasaloppet. First, I wanted to race a Continental Cup, but I wasn’t fit and didn’t go for it. So far, I have not raced a single event, only did some hard training sessions.”
Before her career as a Pro Tour long-distance skier, Smutná was also a World Cup skier for both Czech Republic and Austria and has participated in World Championships and Olympic Games.
Smutná stays true to her old Pro Team, Slavia Pojišťovna Sport Team Z.S. The same company creating the racing suits for the team, Atex, has made an own suit for her to compete with.
Have you seen or talked to any of your former Pro Tour “rivals”?
“Now and then, I have been in contact with Britta, but not with anyone else. I am already looking forward to meeting all the girls and experiencing this unique atmosphere one more time.”
Have you followed Visma Ski Classics Season XII? What do you think about Ida Dahl’s performance?
“Ida was already on a high-level last season. But this year she is extremely good. Impressive!”
What do you think about the battle between Ida Dahl and Britta Johansson Norgren?
“It is fascinating between Ida and Britta, but the season is still long, and so much can happen. I think Lina is getting a better shape now. I am positively surprised by how well Britta is doing. It really makes me happy.”
Who do you think will win the Champion competition in Season XII on the men’s side?
It is not so clear on the men’s side. Each race has a new winner. Max Novak is very strong this year. It will depend on who stays healthy.”
What do you think about the new competition formats like Prato Piazza Mountain Challenge and La Venosta Time Trial?
“Those competitions are a good diversion and very interesting to follow for us spectators. Somehow like the last uphill at Marcialonga, but a bit longer.”
Smutná finishes the interview with a clear statement for the event on Sunday.
“I am not expecting a top performance. I have big deficits in terms of training hours compared to the other girls who have trained throughout the whole summer. Above all, I want to enjoy the race and get into the top 10. But this will not be easy.”
Kateřina Smutná is not the only retired Pro Team athlete who starts in a Grand Classics event. Two weeks ago, we could watch Petter Eliassen putting on the skis again and competing at Marcialonga, finishing at rank 132.
Jizerská50 is the second of four Grand Classics events in Visma Ski Classics Season XII and takes place on Sunday, February 13, with the women starting at 7:50 CET, followed by the men at 8:00 CET.
Don’t miss out on the event, available on Ski Classics Play.
JIZERSKÁ50 – FACTS
- Location: Bedřichov
- Date: Sunday, February 13
- Start Time: Women 7:50 CET / Men 8:00 CET
- Distance: 50km Classic Technique
- Visma Ski Classics Sprints: Jizerka – 23km
- Visma Ski Classics Climbs: Na Knejpé – 11km, Smutna Louka – 32km
- Highest Peak: 861m
- Total Climbing: 999m
Jizerská50 program, start lists, and live streaming on SC Play can be found here.