Interesting transfers between the teams are not only in football in this time. One - quite unique from the Czech point of view - was born in the world of long distance skiing. Katerina Smutna, who won seven single races of VISMA Ski Classics series last season, finished her membership in Norwegian team Santander and for upcoming season will defend „the colors“ of the Czech team -Team PIONEER Investments! Team PIONEER Investments was founded by Lukas Bauer - the most successful cross-country skier of Czech history and he is still taking care about the team like Team Director.
"It's great!" Katerina is world-class competitor in long-distance skiing, and I am delighted - at the same time it is my commitment - that she joined our team. She is former overall SkiClassics Winter, last season she took 2nd place overall and she dominated in many races. I´m sure, that she is looking for revange and we want to help her to fight for victory again. She needs a strong team and a great service, and I believe we will secure it, "says Bauer.
34-year-old Smutna adds that the Team PIONEER Investments was the first choice. "Lukas asked us every year about what Santander looks like to me, but after this season the Norwegians ended the contracts with all the foreigners, leaving only Scandinavians in the team, so then we were sure with my coach that Lukas Bauer and his team should be the first choice. " The connection has an extraordinary dimension also because last year Smutna returned to the Czech national team after ten years in the Austrian national team. "It is ideal for me to compete with the Czech flag on my head and in the Czech team,"says Smutna.
Together with Katerina joined the team also Radim Duda, her coach and partner. They will continue with their individual training, mostly in Czech Republic or in Austria, while they are very welcomed to all team´s training camps. "I´m not pushing them to train together with the team, because I´m sure that they are doing good job and in situation when Barbara Jezersek, another girl athlete from our team, is whole summer in Australia, then it´s up to Katerina if she will train individually or if she will join men part of the team for some camps. But she will joint the team for summer races in Scandinavia like BLINK CLASSIC (NOR) in July or Alliansloppet (SWE) in August for sure," explains Bauer.
With Smutna and Chernousov in one team, Team PIONEER Investments ambitions for the Team competition are increasing. Last season they ended the seventh and now ... "The possibility of improvement there is. Two boys and one woman are always counted in the team scoring, so I believe we have a chance even in the third place," says Smutna. For Bauer, whose aim is to raise young Czech skiers in addition to solid results, another fact is essential. "We have world-class athletes and a mix of young athletes, who can learn. I don´t want to build a team full of stars, that would not work together, but I always wanted to make the team work well…and Katerina meets that."
Team PIONEER Investments is currently composed by Ilya Chernousov, Katerina Smutna, Lukas Bauer, Barbara Jezersek, Jan Srail, Alexis Jeannerod, Adam Fellner. Chernousov, Srail and Smutna are planning to complete all VISMA SkiClassics races, Bauer, after his National team retirement, hopes for at least 6 races, and for other will be priority to be nominated to Olympics, then their racing program can vary deppends on actual situation.
VISMA SkiClassics season starts on November 26 with a Prologue in Switzerland, counting 11 races, with Jizerská 50,18th of February and Vasaloppet, 4th of March.