She had stood five times at the start of the famous race. She took podium at her premiere in 2004 already, when she was third. She has won twice in Bedrichov for the last three years. And another victory would like to add this Sunday. "I'm healthy, I feel good, so I think it could finally come out after this year's second places," says Katerina Smutna, who will compete her heart race in the Czech Bauer Ski Team colors.
After a tough four races in four weeks, the Visma Ski Classics series had a break. Are you happy for this break just prior Jizerska 50?
Break was good, but I filled it with a race (laughs). I was competing Koasalauf last weekend, which took place just outside the place where I live in Austria. Snow was hit in the track, so it was not fast enough, which was ideal for me, the pace was good for training. I was also satisfied with the result, I came half a second behind the first man. I feel really good.
Now you are in the Czech Republic and on Wednesday you had the first training on the Jizerska 50 track. How well do you know it in the past years?
I know practically every meter, which is definitely an advantage. I've been training a lot on this track, but during last 10 years when I´m living more often in Austria, not so much. I'll get to Jizerska 50 track no more than a week before the race and after the race we leave. But during Christmas time I was in Jablonec and maybe ten days I could train here again, which was fine. In the race, we definitely have the advantage of having a refreshment that we can have every 5 kilometers. Foreign teams do not get so much because there is not many places acessible by car, you have to ski.
What does the Jizerska 50 personally mean to you and what is your most powerful experience with this race?
Definitely my first victory in 2015. That last meters to the finish, it was something amazing! I really enjoyed it. Jizerska 50 is such a heartbeat for me. It's at home where I started skiing. Last year, when I was at Jizerska, it was totally unbelievable for the atmosphere. The people who met me wished me good luck, all of them cheered on me. I feel very good here and I always look forward to the race.
Do you already have tactical plans for Sunday, or do you leave it to the course of the race and the specific conditions on the track?
I have to think of something because I had plans for my past race in Toblach, where I had to cancel it due the snow that was in the trail. It might not be snowing on Jizerka. I would like to go high pace at the very beginning. I just have to count on the fact that nobody is going to change me, girls do not want much.
Meanwhile you are ranked as second women in current VISMA SkiClassics ranking behind souverein Britta Norgren. Is it hard to fight with her this year?
Britta is doing well now. It compares to me last season, when I also managed to win five times in a row, which is what she now has. I'm hoping to stop her in Jizerska 50 (smile). I'm happy with the second place, but I wanted to win this series again. It will not be easy now because Britta has a big lead. But if anything can happen, we will see how it will evolve. For Sunday´s Jizerska 50 is my highest goal, I would like to attack the first victory of the season!
Katerina Smutna´s results at Jizerska 50:
2017 – 1. place, 2016 – 4. place, 2015 – 1. place, 2005 – 4. place, 2004 – 3. place