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Important Personalities of the Region

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The Krkonose region is the birthplace or workplace of many personalities who have had a major or important contribution in many fields of human activity, and their extraordinary work has brought benefits not only to our region, whether in folk culture, science, technology, literature, music or other fields. We’d like to present some of them here.

Krakonos

The spirit of the Krkonose Mountains arose from folk imagination. The peculiar features of the landscape were transformed by the locals into a fairytale character of varying appearance. The spirit was depicted as a little gnome, mighty giant, a gamekeeper or a shabby wanderer. At other times he looks like carpenter, after a while he’s a noble aristocrat, a wild forest giant with a huge club, a kind long-bearded grandfather, a handsome huntsman or a mysterious wayfarer. He pleases one with a good deed, but then shortly punishes their mischief. He rules with a supernatural power and force which often surprises people but which many times helps them.

The Krakonos must have travelled through sites of healing herbs, semi-precious stones, in torrential rains and mist, shining snowballs and colourful carpets of blooming flowers. People would try to find him as they believed that the beauty of the mountain landscape must have come from a supernatural power. Krakonos has not always been just a good and kind long-bearded giant. In German he was called Rubezahl. Although it’s the same historical character, Rubezahl was a different personality. He would easily get angry and severely punish others. He didn’t like anyone stealing herbs from his garden or cheating others. He would often put deer antlers on the heads of liars, lay a putrefying goat at lustful officers or break off his leg to throw it at nasty pub keepers.

It is commonly accepted that Krakonos has appeared in folk legends since the 15th century, both in the German and, later the less populous, Czech environment. At first he was the angry and almighty element, ruler of the wind and a demon punishing anyone who dared to unveil the secrets of the mountains for any reason. Later he was the protector of the poor and bearer of justice against the greedy.

It is justifiable to believe that his first ghastly appearance was spread among the locals by Italians, experienced travellers who sought treasures, aiming to protect their sites. Something also may have been added to the legend by local herb pickers. The Czech Krakonos is a human-like character who helps the poor and may trick some of the rich.

From the very beginning, the name of the mountain spirit was a problem. It wasn’t pronounced aloud by superstitious locals so as not to provoke him. The kind name of Mr Johannes or Mr Jan appears, later to be replaced by the unclear name of Rubezahl, with the alternatives of Rubical, Ribenzall, Liczyrzepa or Rybrcoul. The name Krakonos has been in use for just over the past one hundred years.

Even the oldest stories often express the wish for the local treasures and beauty to remain untouched by human hand. Nature, however, wasn’t protected just by the mysterious legends of Krakonos’s tricks – the authorities imposed strict orders and interdictions and severe punishments. However cruel Krakonos could have been in the middle of the 17th century, the cruelty of the authorities was real.

Marie Kubatova

More than fifty books, fairytales broadcast on radio and TV, five theatre pieces and many other literary works – such is the life of the outstanding writer Marie Kubatova: from the world of her childhood and her mother to the large family around her and to the world of the Krkonose people to whom the author always knew very well to listen. She takes inspiration for the hours she puts in at her writing desk especially from pleasant moments and encounters. At the beginning of 2008 the “first lady of Krkonose stories” and the mistress of the written word celebrated an important jubilee.

The Metelka Family

The Metelka family, with whom the art of producing nativity scenes in the western part of the Krkonose is linked, comes from Sklenarice near Vysoke nad Jizerou. The first wooden nativity scene was built by Jachym Metelka in his house no. 4 after marrying Katerina Skrabalkova and after their first son, Jachym, was born in 1853.

Jachym Metelka

His father, a tailor, joined Italian troops fighting for freedom around 1848, where he could have sewn coats for Giuseppe Garibaldi’s fellow campaigners. Jachym’s national pride, sense of freedom and also his artistic gift were intensified. He was most impressed by Italian nativity scenes. He designed his own concept of stages using the corner of the main room, and continued to extend the nativity scene for over thirty years until it was 6 m long on one side and 3 m on the other side of the room, and covered two windows. At first he used figures cut out from printed paper, later he began painting them, as the nativity scene was movable and he had to adjust the figures for the particular movement.

Vaclav Metelka

Born in 1866 as the seventh child of Jachym Metelka, he became a talented assistant to his father. He replaced the worn-out paper figures in the nativity scene with figures which he carved from linden wood. The huge nativity scene contained many movable groups of figures, angels rocking baby Jesus, two rosettes of angels and angelic musicians in the heavens and above the shed, a town with a “Jewish” school of lawmen moving heads above the prophecies of the Old Testament, a butcher with a goat, children on a see-saw and a merry-go-round, a comedian on a trapeze, a shepherd with his sheep, a mine with miners, men cutting down trees, helpers on the city walls and a watcher in the tower, musicians, and many other scenes known also from the work of Vaclav’s cousin, Jan Metelka IV., from the house in Sklenarice, which are today in the collections of the Ethnographic Museum in Vysoke nad Jizerou. After the death of Jachym, his son Vaclav reduced the nativity scene and gave it today’s appearance. It consists of 250 carved components ranging in size from 3 to 20 cm, of which more than one-third are movable. The figures are dressed in clothes or painted and have been created by several people. The actuation equipment, completely made of wood, was originally powered by a weight, today by an electric motor. Except for the painted back part made by Jachym, the whole scene is the work of Vaclav Metelka.

Jachym Metelka jr.

The third of the great nativity scene builders from the Metelka family is Jachym, the first son of Jachym Metelka, director of the municipal girls’ schools in Jilemnice and one of the founders of the Jilemnice museum, the collections of which also include his nativity scene, a work which at first glance reveals the art of the Metelka family.

Jan Weiss

A Czech story writer and novelist, bearer of a national award, considered one of the founders of Czech sci-fi literature, was born on 10 May 1892 in Jilemnice. After graduating from the secondary school in 1913, he began to study the law in Vienna. In 1914 he was drafted into the war, where he fought on the Italian and Russian fronts. In 1916 he was captured and spent the rest of the war as a prisoner in two camps in Siberia. In 1919 he joined the Czechoslovak legion. After returning to the Czechoslovak Republic in 1920 he worked for the Ministry of Public Labour. His first stories were published in magazines and his later works were mostly sci-fi, amalgamating dreams and reality. His novels written after World War Two were on the topic of the future. The House with a Thousand Floors is a novel transcription of the fevered visions of a soldier suffering from typhoid fever, for whom the world changes into a house with a thousand floors where the same processes as in ordinary life happen, strengthened by the visions of an imprisoned princess. The novel is a parable of the world of war. He also published a satirical grotesque with psychological features, several other novels, a fairy-tale-like story and a humoresque. He died on 7 March 1972.

Jindrich Ambroz

A promoter of the Krkonose, protector of nature, the author of tourist guidebooks and leaflets about the Krkonose, and founder of the Mountain Rescue Service in the Krkonose, was born on 1 July 1878. He was famous for declaring the first nature reserves, the predecessors of the Krkonossky National Park. He died on 15 May 1955 in Jilemnice. The Ambrozova viewing point can be found near the source of the river Labe, at the Pancavsky waterfall (the right-hand tributary to the Labe) above the Labsky dul valley.

Frantisek Posepny

A world-renowned Czech scientist, a mineralogist who also worked in geology and related branches. He was born on 30 March 1836 in Jilemnice. He is considered to be the world’s founder of deposit geology, which enabled more effective ore mining. His key work, The Genesis of Ore Deposits (1893), described a new theory of the origination of ore deposits which was widely acclaimed. Besides that, he wrote more than one hundred other professional publications. He studied at the Polytechnic in Prague and the Mining Academy in Pribram, worked as a mining assistant, studied at the Imperial Geological Institute in Vienna and worked at many sites in the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. In 1870 he was appointed head geologist for Hungary and did research on Slovak deposits. In Vienna he was the deputy secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture. He made research journeys around Europe, the Middle East, and the USA, in Nevada and California. He died on 27 March 1895 in Dobling, near Vienna, and is buried in Jilemnice. His name is used on an honorary plaque of the Academy of Czech Sciences which is awarded for merits in the development of geological sciences.

Jiri Slitr

This composer, piano player, singer, actor and painter was born on 15 February 1924 in Zalesni Lhota. His family was also affected by the seizure of the border regions in 1938. He began to study law in 1945 but after graduating he never worked as a lawyer. During his studies he became interested in creative art and music. In 1948 he founded the Czechoslovak Dixieland Jazz Band, worked in creative art and as a piano player. He began collaborating with the famous artist Miroslav Hornicek in his ensemble as a piano player and lyrics writer. In 1957 he met Jiri Suchy, with whom he founded the Semafor theatre in Prague in 1959, which became a major influence on Czech music and theatre in the 1960’s. Perhaps the biggest response from the audience was met in 1962 with their piece “Jonas and tingl-tangl” where the two authors performed for the first time, Slitr in a black bowler hat acting as a puzzled man and Suchy with a French sailor's hat as the more experienced mate. Slitr’s drawings are exhibited in many galleries. He composed more than 300 songs and acted in three movies in 1964–1968, in several documentaries and TV films, including Milos Forman’s Audition (1963). In 1962 he directed his first music comedy. He died tragically of poisoning by leaking gas in his studio on Wenceslas Square in Prague on 26 December 1969 and is buried in the Vysehrad cemetery in Prague.

Josef Capek

A Czech painter, writer, photographer. graphic artist, book illustrator and creator of the word ‘robot’. He was born on 23 March 1887 and spent his childhood in Male Svatonovice near Trutnov. His family moved to Upice near Trutnov in 1890, where he attended the primary and municipal school, and in 1900–1901 a German school in nearby Zacler. After that he attended a two-year German professional weavers’ school in Vrchlabi. In 1904 he moved to Prague, where he studied at the School of Industrial Design. His creative work was very much tied to his literary work. He exhibited his first paintings in Prague in 1912. As a stage designer he collaborated with the National Theatre in Prague, the State Theatre in Brno and the Municipal Theatre in Vinohrady, Prague. He started a career as an editor in Narodni listy, later he worked as an editor and creative art critic for Lidove noviny newspaper. Besides that, he was an editor for several magazines on creative art and also a caricaturist. He was arrested for his anti-Nazi activities in September 1939 and imprisoned in Nazi concentration camps until April 1945, when he died in Bergen-Belsen.

Hans Havlicek

A doctor and scientist who during World War One assisted in Professor Schlosser’s group, where he gained excellent knowledge and practical experience in the field of surgery and radiology. In 1926 he came to the hospital in Zacler and became the new head physician. He carried out scientific work as well. His Zacler hospital was visited by professionals from Europe, North and South America and India. Under his management, the modernised hospital in Zacler gained a great reputation. Havlicek himself designed some of the instruments which were used. One interesting method of his was the application of the BACTOPHES silicon lamp. Havlicek learned that by using Wood ultraviolet light, infection is stopped from spreading and putrefying wounds tend to heal much faster. In 1935 he was made an honourable guest of the French Surgery Congress. He gave lectures at the Sorbonne, in Basel and Gent. In 1940 his work was violently interrupted. He was demoted and prohibited from entering the hospital because he was a member of the German Social Democratic Party and also treated fellow Jewish citizens. All of his scientific materials, preparations and the instruments he designed were confiscated and after being arrested by the Gestapo and imprisoned in Trutnov, he began suffering from diabetes and cardiac symptoms in the prison in Hradec Kralove. Only in 1944 was he released. He unsuccessfully applied for Czech citizenship and was expatriated to the American occupation zone in Friedberg, Hessen, where he worked as the head physician. His health was poor, and on 13 May 1949 he died in Wetzlar alone and penniless.

Josef Sir

It is already 150 years since the birth of the important teacher, writer, painter and musician Josef Sir. Born in Horni Branna, he graduated from the Pedagogical Institute in Jicin, where he met the writer Karel Vaclav Rais. His teaching career started in Roztoky u Jilemnice, where he met Frantiska Janouskova of Kruh, whom he later married. Within a few years he became popular in the whole region. He taught in Stepanice, Ponikla and Benecko. For 21 years he kept the chronicle of Stepanice. He felt for his fellow citizens and knew their worries and joys. He turned the fates which he learned into stories which he published in Narodni listy, Zlata Praha and other newspapers and magazines. In 1904 the Otto publishers issued his first work – a collection of short stories entitled The Mountain Springs. Josef Sir is buried in Roztoky u Jilemnice, along the left-hand side of the road from the main entrance to the cemetery.

Jan Amos Komensky, Teacher of Nations

After the battle of Bila Hora, Jan Amos Komensky had to leave his Moravian base in Fulnek, where he was a school supervisor and a preacher of the Brethren community. When non-Catholic priests were ordered out of the country by the Viennese authorities on 20 October 1621, he went into hiding. In Horni Branna, in the foothills of the Krkonose, in the demesne of Vaclav Zaruba of Hustirany, a small group of the Czech Brethren’s Union gathered and prepared for exile, which they realised was the only solution. During Komensky’s stay in Horni Branna in 1627, the winter was very hard with a lot of snow. The exiled company of the Czech Brethren headed toward the border. Men rode horses, women and children travelled by sleigh. From Horni Branna they travelled via Cerny Dul, Janske Lazne, Svoboda nad Upou, Mlade Buky, Kalna Voda, Babi and Zacler, where they all crossed the border into neighbouring Silesia, now Poland. On 8 February 1628 they reached Lesno, where J. A. Komensky was elected a bishop and scrivener. He soon became a deputy to the gymnasium’s dean which led him to an interest in pedagogy. Most of his work was carried out in this period. He spent the end of his life in Holland, where he died on 15 November 1670 and was buried in a church in Naarden.

Jaroslav Havlicek

A novelist and the lead figure in Czech psychological writing between the Wars. He was born on 3 February 1896 in Jilemnice into a teacher’s family. After attending the primary school in Jilemnice, he studied at the Real School in Jicin, where he passed his final exams and continued to the Czech Technical University in Prague, from where he graduated. In 1915 he was drafted and sent to the front, at first in Russia, and later after an injury to Italy. He returned home at the beginning of 1919. His aptitude for psychology enabled him to work deeply on the psychology of his novel characters, especially female heroes, and to lyricise a realistic to naturalistic view of reality. His literature was influenced by local writers and spiritualists. He wrote several novels which unfold in a small town at the end of the 19th century and describe tragic human fate, with a profound insight into the mental condition of ill people and extreme situations. He died on 7 April 1943 in Prague.

Jaroslav Skrbek

This graphic artist, academic painter and pioneer of Czech etching art was born on 7 January 1888 in Ponikla, where – and in Vysoke nad Jizerou – he spent his childhood and to which he would return throughout his life. The Semily and Krkonose regions have numerous representations of the art work of this graduate of the Prague Academy studios of professors Max Pirner and Max Svabinsky. He published a book on historical meetings in Vysoke nad Jizerou in 1868 and is known for his graphic art in newspapers and magazines, such as Venkov. The drawing of his birthplace was published in a book entitled ‘With Light and Shadow’. He died in 1954.

Prof. MUDr. Zdenek Reinis, DrSc.

Born in Ponikla, he became an internationally renowned expert in angiology as a representative of the so-called Angiologic School. He was also the founder of the epidemiology of atherosclerosis and preventative cardiology in Czechoslovakia. In 1958–1968 he participated in epidemiological research into non-infectious diseases, the first of its type in the country, focusing primarily on atherosclerosis, ischemic diseases of the heart and the lower limbs, work which is still regarded as groundbreaking in this branch. In 1964 he brought home a new method from his research journey in the USA to his 4th Internal Clinic, which became revolutionary in Czech cardiological society, enabling the reassessment of some of the existing views on arrhythmias and, more importantly, making a major change to their diagnostics. In 1994 he was awarded in memoriam honourable membership of the Angiologic Society.

Frantisek Kavan

This important painter was born on 10 September 1866 in Vichovska Lhota near Jilemnice. His native region became a permanent influence on his soul and art work. In 1889–1895 he studied at the Prague Academy of Creative Arts in the studio of Julius Marak, under whose leadership he became a first class landscape painter. Most of his work from that period is among the most respected Czech landscape art today. The famous Dawn, made in Vichovska Lhota in 1894, was awarded the gold medal at the 1900 World Exhibition in Paris. After consistently realistic beginnings, he inclined to symbolism in 1895–1899 and was in touch with artists around the Moderni revue magazine. After 1900 he went back to landscape painting, with features of impressionistic realism, with his winter motifs being especially familiar. The Kavanova gallery in the Jilemnice palace exhibits around 90 of his works. He also wrote poetry. He died on 16 December 1941 in Libun.

Josef Jarosch

This writer, poet and translator was born in 1837 in Petrovice,. He had 10 brothers and sisters, only three of whom reached maturity. He attended the municipal school and the grammar school. He began publishing his poetry during his studies, at first under various pseudonyms, such as J.W.J., J.R.H. or Waldemar J., and from 1856 he was known as Alfred Waldau. He graduated in law from Charles University. In Prague he often met the poets Vitezslav Halek, Jan Neruda, Gustav Pfleger and Adolf Heyduk, and the Czech painters V. Barvitius, A. Bubak and others. An important part of his work was his translations of K. .H. Macha’s poems into German and his research into Czech folk dance and music. He collaborated with Neruda in the publication of Pictures of Life. He suffered from bad health from an early age and underwent treatments in Janske Lazne. In 1872 he moved to Zacler, where he worked as a public notary and auditor. He secretly married Frantiska Wisiack Edle von Wendenbuhl and they lived in the Zacler palace. The harsh mountain climate continued to impact on his health and his lung disease worsened. He died in Zacler on 3 February 1882.

Karl Illner

This pilot, technician and technical designer broke many records in his Etrich Taube aeroplane, making these planes famous worldwide. He was born on 14 July 1877 in Zacler. He studied as an engineer in Trutnov and worked for the Braunlich company in Svoboda nad Upou, where he first met Igo Etrich, the son of an important textile producer, Ignaz Etrich who, as an educated man, was enchanted with the idea of flying. From 1908 Karl was officially engaged as a workshop foreman and a designer in aviation development. After his first success he moved to Prater in Vienna and later to Wiener Neustadt. At the end of 1909 a new aeroplane was produced which made a lasting impression in the history of aviation, the famous Etrich II. Taube (the Dove). Karl Illner made the first flights. Initially self taught, he soon became an excellent pilot. On 17 May 1910 he made the first intercity flight in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, from Wiener Neustadt to Vienna and back, and further flights came soon after. His professional career was very varied. In World War One he tutored army pilots, he became the technical director of the Aviatik company, and was the production manager of Osterreichische Daimler-Motoren GmbH in Wiener Neustadt. During the period when Ferdinand Porsche was the managing director, Karl Illner was the head of production of passenger vehicles and locomotives. In 1919–1921 he was a partner in Wiener Auto und Garagen GmbH. His rich life ended on 6 August 1935.

Josef Rossler-Orovsky

When Josef Rossler-Orovsky learned about the sports experiments of Krkonose skiers in 1893, he contacted Jan Buchar, head of the Czech Tourist Club branch in Jilemnice, with whom he became lifelong friends. Josef Rossler-Orovsky and Jan Buchar are the two founders of winter sports in Krkonose.

Jan Buchar

Jan Buchar was born in Mricna near Jilemnice. He became a teacher and from 1884 he administered the single class school in Dolni Stepanice and started his great tourist activities, which made him the grand character of the beginnings of Czech tourism. In 1888 the Czech Tourist Club was established and began publishing their own magazine, for which Jan Buchar wrote his first article entitled ‘Let Us Go Up to the Krkonose’, published in the first volume. At the end of 1892 he himself undertook a journey to Zaly hill, using skis he had just got, and thus launched the new era of winter tourism in the Krkonose. In 1894 his first article on skiing was published under the title ‘New Winter Sport’ and the following year he published instructions for skiing, entitled simply ‘Ski’, the first instructional article in the history of Czech skiing.

Marie and Jaroslav Lukes

This pair of renowned sportsmen lived in Jilemnice. Jaroslav was a champion in ski jumping, Alpine combined and the Nordic combined, and competed in two Olympic Games and two World Championships. He treasured most the 10-cm tall cup from Alpaka which he received in 1930 from the Norwegian king in person as the award for the best Central European sportsman. Marie was twice national champion in cross-country skiing. The two became friends at the age of five and did much together. They began building the first cable car in Spindleruv Mlyn and established the first mountain rescue service.

Jaroslav Cardal

Born in Mrklov, he was a legendary character in Czech cross-country skiing, never losing a 50 km ski race from his first victory to his retirement from sport in 1959. He held the title of national champion in the ski marathon for 13 years. He competed in the leading international contests, three times in the Olympic Games and twice in the World Championship, in a period that featured the most famous cross- country skiers of all time. It was difficult then for a Central European to reach the world’s top ranking. At the end of his sports career in 1959, he became administrator of the skiing stadium in Spindleruv Mlyn and spent his retirement in Jilemnice.

Bohumir Zeman

A native of Spindleruv Mlyn, a member of the local sports club. At the end of the 1970’s he was the leading Czech downhill contestant. The 14-time national champion competed in the World Cup for ten years from the age of 16. He placed in the top ten more than 30 times. He twice competed in the Olympic Games and in two World Championships. In 1981 he won the World Cup in Kitzbuhl, Austria in the slalom, and the downhill in Hahnenkamm. Among his many other trophies was also the 4th place in the combination of slalom, downhill and giant slalom in the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid. In 1986–1989 he was the trainer for the junior sportsmen at the Sports Centre in Vrchlabi and from 1990 he was the coach of the national slalom team in Liechtenstein. Today (2010) he is the mayor of Spindleruv Mlyn.

Sarka Zahrobska

This successful representative of Alpine skiing was born in Benecko. She won the World Championship in Aare, Sweden in slalom, which was the very first title for the Czech Republic in Alpine skiing. Among her top rankings are: World Cup – 2nd and 3rd place in slalom; 2007 World Championship (Aare) – 1st place in slalom, 4th place in super combined, 12th place in giant slalom; 2005 World Championship (Bormio) – 3rd place in slalom, 5th place in combined, 10th place in giant slalom; 2003 World Championship (St. Moritz) – 9th place in combined; 2006 Winter Olympics (Torino) – 13th place in slalom, 27th place in super giant slalom, 19th place in combined.

Andrea Zemanova

A student of the Gymnasium school in Vrchlabi and a member of the Spindleruv Mlyn Ski Club who successfully accomplished her career in the Czech national team at the category of pupils when, at the age of 15, she won the National Championship in giant slalom. During that season, she didn't rank worse than 1st or 2nd in any Czech slalom contest she joined. At the Skiintercriterium in Ricky (the Orlicke mountains) she came 2nd in the giant slalom. At the junior student World Championship at Trofeo Topolino, Italy, she again ranked at the top among more than 100 skiers from 45 countries, and repeated this in Abetone, Italy. After that, she came 3rd in slalom in Val d’Isere, France in a competition featuring over 100 skiers from 28 countries. Three years ago she won the super giant slalom there, with the sweet prize being gummy bears weighing as much as she did – 50 kg.

Daniel Paulicek

He was born in 1993 and lives in Vrchlabi. Under the coaching of Zdenek Volech, he became a successful freestyle snowboarder, placing 1st at the O2 Rookie Cup 2007, 3rd at the 4x4 series in 2007 and 8th place at the World Rookie Fest Livigno 2008. He participates in the Sportsmen for Sochi 2014 programme run by the Sports Academy in Spindleruv Mlyn. As a talented snowboarder from the BSS Club and the Sports Academy, he is sponsored by the Burton company. Next season he will be a full member of the junior category.

Veronika Zitkova

She was born in 1988 and lives in Jilemnice, where she also studies at the Sports gymnasium (a grammar school). She is engaged in biathlon as a Czech representative. Among her top results are 2nd and twice 6th place at the World Junior Championship in 2008, 3rd and 2nd place at the European Junior Championship in 2008 together with 2nd place in the relay, and 14th place at the adults’ World Championship in 2008. She is justifiably considered the best Czech biathlon talent now. In the upcoming season she will be competing in the junior category and the World Junior Championship will be the peak of her season. From the Olympic Year 2010 she is in the women’s category and is preparing for the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014. Her personal coach is Jindrich Sikola, coach of the Czech national junior team.

Michal Stantejsky

He was born in Vrchlabi and is a member of the Ski Alp Club Spindl. He began to intensely prepare for a sports career in Skialpinism before the 2004/5 winter season. His first success was a nomination for the European Championship in Andorra in the men's under 23 category for the Vertical Race, singles contest and relays, helping the Czech Republic to 5th place in the nations contest. He skipped the 2005/ 6 winter season for health reasons, and in the 2006/7 season he won the category of men aged 20–39 at the Czech Skialpinism Championship in Spindleruv Mlyn.

Filip Trejbal

He was born in Jilemnice 1985 and studied at the local Sports gymnasium (a grammar school), now he lives in Rokytnice nad Jizerou, where his sports career started, with his older sister and his parents who encouraged him to start skiing and have always supported him. He also plays other sports such as ball games, wake boarding, water skiing, ski and bike freeriding, motocross and others. In 2007 he came 2nd at the ITA Winter Universiade in Bardonecchia, 2nd in the Super G, 2nd in the giant slalom and 1st in the combined and slalom. He became Champion in the special slalom at the International Championship of the Czech Republic in Alpine sports on the Black Course in the Svaty Petr Skiareal in 2008.

Tomas Slavik

He was born in 1981 and studied at the Sports gymnasium (a grammar school) in Jilemnice from 1995, becoming a Czech representative three years later, choosing the Nordic combined, the most difficult traditional skiing discipline. He is now the best Czech contestant in the combined. He became Academic World Champion in Torino in 2007 and has two bronze medals from the World Universiade. He placed 5th at the 2007 World Cup in Holmenkollen and competed in the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino. He was a contestant three times at the World Championship, regularly ranking in the top 15 at the World Cup and placing 10th at the 2007 Summer Grand Prix. Besides a successful skiing career, he graduated from the Pedagogical Faculty at the Liberec Technical University in German and Physical Education.

Anna Hanusova

She was an important character in women’s skiing in Bohemia in 1908–1912. Only very little information is known about the beginnings of women’s skiing in the Czech lands, allowing us to deduce that only a few of them skied before World War One, and their contests were separate from the men's. The first women’s race was held at the Championship of the Czech Kingdom on 2 January 1904 in Vysoke nad Jizerou. Around the year 1910, Anna Hanusova, then the best female contestant and a member of Sokol Mrklov club, participated in several men’s races. She later became a member of the leading club, the Czech Krkonose Ski Union in Jilemnice. She was the first woman in Bohemia to participate in the 50 km race, on 10 April 1909.

Josef Kraus

A pioneer of ski racing in Bohemia, one of the leading contestants at the end of the 19th century, was born in Dolni Stepanice, won the first international race over 50 km and was five times champion of the Czech Kingdom. His father Jan was a joiner and worked with Antonin Vondrak, a renowned ski manufacturer, at the sawmill in Dolni Stepanice. Antonin Vondrak lent him a template and Jan decided to manufacture his own skis at home, thus supporting his son Josef, who as a child had won the school race. At the Championship of the Czech Lands he competed on the provisional ski jump and became the first Czech champion of the Czech Kingdom in ski jumping. In 1904, as a member of the CKSS, he won his first gold medal in the 10 km race at the Championship of the Czech Lands in Vysoke nad Jizerou, and later twice repeated this feat. In 1905 his wins included a 50 km race. In 1906 he won for the last time in a championship in Benecko, leaving 2nd place for Bohumil Hanc. He died in 1966.

Hynek Bedrnik

He was born on 31 December 1872 and was an excellent cross-country skier at the beginnings of ski racing in the Czech lands. A co-founder of the Czech Krkonose Ski Union in Jilemnice, for many years a member of its committee and the first chairman, he assisted, with other contestants, at the beginnings of ski racing in Bohemia and soon became famous. He placed 2nd at the first Skiing Championship of the Czech Kingdom in January 1896 in Stromovka, Prague. One month later he won the first club race, the Krkonose Championship. In 1898 he became Champion of the Czech Lands. After his sports career, he worked intensively for the Czech Krkonose Ski Union.

Eva Paulusova

Eight times national champion, a contestant in two Olympic Games, three World Championships and at the Winter Universiade, a coach and a technical delegate of the FIS. She was born in Jilemnice and raced in 1955–1966. She started skiing very early, at the age of 5. In 1955 she was drafted into the national team. Her first victory was in a 5 km race at the National Championship in Spindleruv Mlyn, and she placed 2nd in racing at the 1960 International Winter Universiade in Chamonix. Her best result was at the 1966 World Championship in Oslo in the 10 km race. From 1975 she was a member of the women’s FIS cross-country committee and a technical delegate of the FIS at women’s international racing contests.

Antonin Barton jr.

Three times Czech champion, twice a silver medallist at the 1933 World Championship, the best Central European racer in the 50 km race at the 1932 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, he was born in Vysoke nad Jizerou and was among the leading Czech racers at the beginning of the 1930’s. He won the silver medal at the 1933 World Championship in Innsbruck in the combined and assisted in the great success of the Czech relay team, who also won the silver medal. He started skiing before starting school, and became a Czech representative in 1931. These two silver medals at the 1933 Innsbruck championship were the peak of his career – in the ski sprinters race over 18 km he placed 7th, the best of the Czech racers, thus helping the team to the silver medal, unrepeated until the Czech women’s team raced at the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo. In 1935 he won his last national championship in the combined and then ended his sports career.

The Balcar Family of Spindleruv Mlyn

“You randomly select one hundred boys and offer them to do ski jumping. If ten of them apply, three of them will run away from the jump. However, there were six boys who were offered this at the age of 5 and none of them declined it. At the age of six they jumped 15 metres, at the age of twelve it was 50 metres. They were the Balcar boys from Spindleruv Mlyn.”
This is an introduction to an old article about the largest ski jumpers’ family in Europe, maybe in the world, which is still true 30 years later. There were seven jumpers – father Oldrich and sons Oldrich, Josef, Jindrich, Jaroslav, Stanislav and Jiri, with Jindrich’s son Jan being the eighth follower. Among the Balcar brothers’ coaches was also architect Karel Jarolimek, the first designer of modern ski jumps in the country, one of the first jumpers and members of the FIS who competed in the ski jumping race in Holmenkollen, Norway and in the famous 50 km race in which Bohumil Hanc and Vaclav Vrbata died.

Zdenek Remza

This bearer of the national sports award and respected coach was born in Horni Branna and was for many years a member of the Czech national team of ski jumpers, participating at the 1948 Winter Olympics and at the World Championships in 1954 and 1958. He jumped with exquisite style and had a perfect landing. He emphasised the jump technique that he had not only mastered but also knew very well how to demonstrate. In 1960–1970 he was appointed national coach of the Czech jumpers' team. He was awarded the state prize for his unique success at the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble. In 1974–1981 he was head coach of the Czechoslovak Skiing Union.

Jana Koubkova

A singer, composer, speaker, columnist, and organiser, blessed with a natural rhythm, sound, improvisation and communicative joy. For many years she has been a leading character in the Czech jazz scene. She can now often be seen at any time of the year in the Krkonose as a tourist. She likes to come and rest here, to “Pause, look around and sense the beauty…”.