His goal, prior to the season, was to start at about half of the 11 Visma Ski Classics races. He did 9 of them and the best result was reached by the demanding Reistadlopet, whhere finished in 34th place. However, he did not solve his performance as much as he did in the past, and his priority was to provide the team. This was a great season and Bauer Ski Team finished as fourth best team in the Team competition. So, Lukas Bauer, the athlete and the team boss in one person, could be satisfied!
Which moments from this season have you memorized and what do you like to remember? It will sound like a phrase, but the whole season was just great. I am very grateful for it and I am very happy with the results, what we achieved. I would like to say, that the TOP race for us was Marcialonga, where our two team leaders shined in the same moment - Ilya Chernousov won and Katerina Smutna was the second. For the second time in a row, we also had two athletes on the winner´s podium. We did it for the first time in La Diagonela, where Katerina came second and Ilya third. So Marcialong was a top top.
Is there something you would rather forget about this season? On the sport side was the worst Jizerská 50 for us. Here I would like to forget and repeat, but with a completely different result. We were preparing for it, we wanted to succeed and the men's team blew up. This, of course, is not pleasant, because everybody wants to succeed at home, to be seen. So it was the worst moment from the season. Very difficult for us was also Ilya Chernousov´s disqualification in Toblach, what we felt in team atmosphere for a while. We had two second places in this race before DSQ, so we just celebrated Katka and wept for Ilya. I think he has been dealing with it also for some time, and we have definitely missed this points in the end of the season.
You finished as fourth best team in the Team competition. How do you rate your placement? I am very happy! It was absolutely clear that the pre-season goal was to be placed among the top five teams. In the penultimate race we fought for the best three, what was great. In many ways, this season was a breakthrough for the team. I'm glad we showed again that we are better every year and we are still growing up.
How worked your team inside? I think I managed realy good people together in one team and team spirit was almost whole season in really good level. So I´m very satisfied with this.There were top racers and youngsters who could learn from the experienced ones in the team and it´s important for the future. For most of the time it worked well and I think it worked well also in team serivice side. Of course we're human, so sometimes there were moments when a light submarine was in the air, what is normal in such long and tough season, when sometimes up and downs came. But what is great is, that we reached great sucess as a team and we finished the season still as friends what we were in the beginning!
In addition to excellent team results, you have also achieved ten places on the podium in individual races, by team leaders Katerina Smutna and Ilya Chernousov. How satisfied are you with their performance? It was just an confirmation of their role in the team - that Ilya and Katerina are supposed to be the team leaders and responsible for the top results. Both confirmed it and they were doing absolutely great job. Ilya confirmed that he found the way how to become really strong in long-distance skiing, during his debut in skimarathons last season and how he had to adjust the training and this was visible this season, that his performance was more balanced. As for Katerina, she did really good season. Of course we all wanted to see her in the highest place and Vasaloppet was a big goal for her and us as a team, but her biggest rival, Britta Johansson Norgren, however, confirmed her top quality from last year and she had an amazing season. So, we are really happy with Katerina´s performance, despite she was missing any victory, but it was fair fight with Britta and she deserve it. There was visible also that women´s field is more competitive compare last years, what is great to see.
Both of them were in the top ten of overall ranking among the individuals, Smutna was the second and Chernousov the eighth. But you achieved also another great results In the individual standings - Jan Srail was the sixth among sprinters and the French athlete Roxane Lacroix finished second in the category Under 26 years, competing only half the races ... Roxane showed differently better level of performance compare to other U26 girls and it was clear that if she was able to compete in whole season, then she would win the U26 category overall. It also fades from the view that she will leve U26 category this year. But of course, I am very satisfied with her results. Despite the fact that she had no experiences with VISMA SkiClassics and she jumped directly to "doublepoling world", she showed great performance. She bring a lot of important point to the team and also she became a great part of the team and it worked well directly fro the first moments. I´m really happy that I´ve found her and that she joined my team! The sixth place of Jan Srail in the sprinter´s competition I take as a bonus and a great almost 60km long break-away from Vasaloppet helped him to win this placement. But sometimes you have to risk it! Sometimes I told to Jan that he have to save more energy and not be so active with leading the peloton and pushing the pace, what he is doing quite often and then he is missing a power in important moments of the race, but I'm glad that he didn´t followed my advice during Vasaloppet and he put all in. The great break-away was a result of his risk and some sprints victories with his name written in the "stone of winners" will be the great memory for him.
How difficult was it for you to take care about the team from the position of the team director and to compete in almost all races? I did a decision already before the season that I wanted to be focused on team leadership and assurance. And it was visible on my sport results, it was clear that training and motivation went down in comparison with previous seasons. For me, the team was a priority, and this year I have fulfilled what I said in previous seasons - that one day will come when the results will have to be on someone else. In many moments, I went to start or practice to get the best out of it, but I certainly did not expect it to show some sensational outcome. I rather did not want to jump out of that sporting world and be a 100% functionary, even though I've already done about 70 percent of that.
How was your responsibility? Complete team assurance, both before and during the season. There were, of course, more difficult moments when something went wrong, somebody got sick, the servicemen had to stay at work and had to overcome their staffing. Then I had to deal with it, as well as transport cars and other operational items. There is, of course, the search for money, negotiations with sponsors, care for media service. When was needed, I was everytime responsble for the final decision in the most important questions. But it is clear that without right people around me it could not be possible, just like without our partners. Everybody deserve a great Thank you!
Do you want to continue with the team again next season? I definitely want to continue and compete with the team in the VISMA Ski Classics serie and continue on this great results from this year. If we could improve it, it would be a bomb. Moreover, the Bauer Ski Team is also a project for hobby athletes, who are going around various races in the Czech Republic and around the world. Together, we did over 15,000 "competition´s" kilometers this year, and for each of them we give the money to charity organization END DUCHENNE, which carries children with muscular dystrophy. This year we earned for them by our competing over 15 thousand Czech crowns. I´m glad to help by doing our passion.
Do you already have any plans for the next year? This year's 4th place is very high and we do not have many places to climb. But it's a great motivation for me to try it. Any improvement means improving the details in which we could lose. Even in the background, it's pretty close to cycling sport. Of course, this is also associated with the funding, what we need clearly to further sporting growth. So I'm starting such a summer season. While in winter I was chasing time and medals, I will now chase to raise our budget to make improvements possible. I think 85% of everything worked very well. Then there are little things I would like to do differently from next season.