Fights of the Kings on Ice

Text, photos & videos © Daphne Heij


About a week ago I found out through the Czech press that something special would take place in Prague. Figure skater Tomas Verner, speed skater Martina Sablikova and hockey player Petr Ton would be competing against each other, trying out each other’s disciplines.

I thought that could be interesting, and because I don’t live so far away from Prague at the moment, I thought I would go. Besides Tomas happens to be my favourite figure skater and on top of that, I come from the Netherlands where speed skating is a long tradition. I have watched it on TV since I was a small child!

Anyway, we came to the arena about an hour before it started. We thought maybe we could have a look in the arena beforehand, but unfortunately we were greeted by some young guys in bright yellow vests with “security” on them. Even though I very much believed I had the right to receive a VIP card that they were handing out to the right of me, I didn’t get one. Nothing left for us to do but wait outside until we were allowed to go in.

After half an hour we were let inside. They gave us all a plastic bag with size L Alpine Pro gloves, something to drink, some candy and a card with a number on it. There were only a few seats in the rink, but since we were one of the first to enter, we found ourselves really good places.

At first all the competitors gathered in the middle to do some interviews. Tomas was a really good boy making sure he was well positioned in front of the board with his sponsors on it. He even guided a lady interviewer to the sponsor board on the ice, being a real gentleman and all. There was a lot of laughing and joking among the interviewers and competitors. I wonder what was being said.
Then the sponsor board was carried away and it was time to fight!

The first element of competition was a sprint from one end of the rink to the other. I still don’t know who won, but I think it was Petr Ton. Perhaps Tomas would have won if he had not tried the “belly-slide method”. Tomas should know, after TEB this season that a belly-slide really is not the way to success… ;)
Watch this hilarious moment >>in this video on Youtube<<

All the competitors then gathered in the middle again and they had to draw a number. Aha! A lottery! That’s what the number was for which we got at the beginning! Since I sat directly opposite Tomas, I signed with my fingers to Tomas which number I had: 2-3-7! He didn’t pick my number though and I was a bit disappointed, however Martina did though. I don’t know if it was my luck or if it was thanks to them, if so: Thanks guys! Then I understood that actually I first would have to compete for my prize. Hmmm…

I went down to the ice and my friend told the moderator that actually I am not Czech. I understand Czech quite well by now, but when they were talking with the microphone it was really difficult for me to understand. Luckily though, as soon as the moderator heard I am not Czech he started to speak English to me. Of course he started to ask me where I am from and what my name is. I answered, but I must say I didn’t exactly feel comfortable there on the ice. I understood I had to compete in curling, which is obviously not my sport. I had to aim for some spot on the ice with this thing, whatever you call it. I didn’t even come close to the spot and to make matters worse I also fell. Not to mention that Tomas came back out to watch me - his whole family was there and a lot of other people. Just great! I finished 3rd and dead last. I still won a coupon of 1000kc (about 40euro) to spend in the Alpine Pro shop though. Actually they didn’t really see who finished 2nd or 3rd, so they just “declared” me 3rd; I wuzrobbed like a real figure skater. I am of the opinion though, that if I’d had my skates on, and some people to brush the ice crazily for me, of course I would’ve blown my opponents away.

After my short embarrassing moment of fame, I climbed back to my place and quickly forgot about my failed attempt playing curling while watching Tomas skate to Volare. Without the costume or hat I felt like something was missing though. The hat he doesn’t have anymore anyway, because as part of a “disappearance act” he threw it in the audience 2 weeks ago at the Big Kings on Ice show here in Czech Republic. He really had to leave for the bus, but couldn’t because so many fans were there for autographs and photos etc. So he got this idea (and was quite proud of it) to throw his hat into the audience and while all the eyes were following the hat, Tomas…disappeared!

Still it was a lot of fun as always to see Volare again and I think he won some hearts with it because afterwards he definitely got more support than before.
After Volare Tomas got a little bit of time to recuperate and regain energy for the next element of competition: figure skating! A referee started to explain about how things go in a short program, but I suppose Tomas was not content, because he grabbed the microphone and started, still gasping for air, to explain how it’s really like, and that actually a short program isn’t that short because it does last almost 3 minutes.

All the skaters had to skate a small circuit across the rink, and then they would decide who would win. The circuit consisted of skating backwards, skating backwards making an 8, slaloming around pins backwards, turning forward doing a spiral and at the end a spin. I thought Martina had the most beautiful spin: she stopped, pulled one hand above her head and turned a few circles stepping with both feet. Like a real figure skater babyballerina!

Also Tomas was pretty innovative with his new invented spin turning on his back and behind instead of on his skates! Tomas was by far the fastest, but Martina won this discipline based on Program Components.

Then there was a small break in the competition and we got an interview with Petr Novak, coach of the Czech speed skating team. It’s too bad I couldn’t understand a word of what he was saying, because I’m sure it would’ve been interesting to me. I think it’s amazing what he’s done, raising a speed skater in a country where they have NO speed skater rinks. I find it almost impossible, but he did it! Martina is now world champion and world record holder on the 5000M! But I won’t bother you any further now with my speed skating talk, because I realize that most of you reading here prefer figure skating.

Afterwards there was another competition involving the public. This time 3 people had to score a goal with a puck and a hockey stick. I was happy I didn’t have to do this, because probably I would have sucked even more than I did in curling.
Next element of competition was skating 3 times around the rink. Petr was first and he skated really fast. Tomas was next and even though he skated very smooth and fluid, he didn’t out skate Petr. Last up was Martina and Tomas stayed on ice to “coach” and support her. He was just missing a time score board like they have in speed skating, but they did exchange high 5s while she was skating. Even though this was her discipline, the guys out-skated her, but I guess this wasn’t the right ice rink for her to skate in. I could see she was having trouble with the turns.

Up next and last was shooting on goal and all of the competitors looked fabulous in their hockey gear. They all had 3 chances to pass the goalie who was now positioned in the goal. There was no such thing as rivalry among the competitors - they were all cheering for each other, smashing their sticks on the ice to make a loud clapping sound. >>Check out this Youtube clip to see that<<

During the whole competition they were loudly supporting each other (especially Tomas, but I don’t expect otherwise from him, because during competitions when he is cheering for friends, he is louder than me, and that says something).

They all scored twice so there had to be another round, this time Martina failed to score, but the guys did so they were up for the final against each other. Petr was up first but he missed! All the pressure was on Tomas, but to his great delight he didn’t fail, won the event and celebrated it sliding on his knees across the ice.

Two Youtube vids to illustrate this. Click >>here<< and >>here<<


That was the end of the competition and it is pretty funny that none of the competitors won in their own discipline. The final result was that Petr won, Tomas came in 2nd and Martina was 3rd.

Then they all sat down at a table on the ice and there was the opportunity to ask for autographs. I didn’t really need any autographs, so I put on my skates and skated around a little bit. I felt the pressure though when my friends asked me to show off my wonderful waltz jump! But I landed it.
After an hour they finished signing autographs, I gave Tomas some Dutch chocolate for which he bowed to me because he was very grateful. He didn’t have any more time left, because his family was waiting for him upstairs.
Time for us to go home after a really fabulous day! I really would like to thank Sport Invest for organizing this and Tomas for coming up with the idea!


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