Remembering a legend whilst wearing Raškovkas. Olympians at the Czech House remember the anniversary of the first Gold W

Wearing Raškovka hats, Czech ski jumpers and other athletes paid tribute to Jiří Raška, the first Czechoslovak Winter Olympic gold medallist. At the Czech House in Gangneung the fiftieth anniversary of Raška’s triumph at Grenoble 1968 was also celebrated by figure skaters from three countries and František Halíř, present at those Games and now head coach of the luge team.

“When we looked at which anniversaries fell this year, the first gold medal immediately sprang to mind. We discussed how best to mark this anniversary and selected the bobble hat he wore when jumping,“ said Jiří Kejval, President of the Czech Olympic Committee. “The Jiří Raška I knew was a kind and principled man who had a knack for coming up with common sense solutions. When things were happening, he remained calm.“

The double medallist at the Grenoble Games is also respected by his successors, who were asked to describe Jiří Raška in a maximum of three words.

“An absolute legend,” said Roman Koudelka.

“Mr ski jumping,” added Čestmír Kožíšek.

“A hero,” adjudged Viktor Polášek.

“Olympic Champion,” said Vojtěch Štursa.

“A great man,” added Lukáš Hlava, who was coached by Jiří Raška.

Tomáš Verner, who hosted the celebration “squeezed” into a ski jumping suit, asked: Would you beat Jiří Raška in his day with his technique?

“No” was the resounding reply of the current generation.

The ski jumpers then taught the Telemark landing style with which the Czech Team, led by flag bearer Eva Samková, paid homage to Jiří Raška during the Games Opening Ceremony. They also demonstrated some training methods, which visitors could also try. The figures skaters joined in too, including Czech skater Michal Březina, Lucie Myslivečková of Slovakia and Ondřej Hotárek, who competes for Italy.

František Halíř also took to the podium. The current head coach of the luge team competed at Grenoble 1968, where he was the youngest member of the team. He has returned to the Olympics where, fifty years later, the Czech luge team again comprises six members.

Halíř has a special memento of the Grenoble Games – an Olympic flag. “I was the youngest and had the desire to bring something home with me. There were flag poles there and so after the competitions I went to one for a souvenir. The problem was how to get it home,” said Halíř. He hid it in his helmet. “When I arrived home my father told me off and said I must be mad. However, I still have the flag tucked away and I bring it out for every anniversary.”

He regularly met with Jiří Raška at celebrations and meetings of the Czech Olympians Club. “We became friends; Jirka was for me an unforgettable character; to this day I hold him in great esteem,” added Halíř.

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