Brno Catches the Olympic Spirit, And You Can, Too
By Bruno Zalubil. Photo credit: Bruno Zalubil
Brno, Feb 12 (BD) – Everybody has their personal Olympic memories. Perhaps it is a personal unfulfilled childhood athletic dream. Or perhaps it is the against-all-odds gold medal victory of a countryman many years ago. Or maybe it is just the pride of having your national anthem being played for the entire world.
A good way to rekindle those memories is to visit the Czech Olympic Festival for the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics here in Brno over the next weeks.
The Olympic Festival is centered around Pavilion Z of the Trade Fair Center. It is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Parking is free. For big events, there are special trams to get people to the site. Entry is 50kc. Seniors and children under 150cm are free.
Many people say that they would rather play a sport than watch it on television. The Czech Olympic festival offers the best of both worlds.
Try the Sports
Hands-on experience is at the center of the festival. There is an indoor skating rink for hockey and figure skating and an outdoor skating loop to (slightly) recreate the feeling of speed skating. Bring your own skates or rent them at the site.
There is also a large area for snowboarding and downhill skiing — basically a place to see what it feels like to strap on the equipment. If you’ve never tried cross country skiing, this is your chance because there is a long loop for getting the hang of it, and there’s an opportunity to explore the biathlon.
One of the more interesting sites is right in the center of pavilion Z: two curling lanes. It’s easy to make fun of curling as the winter version of shuffleboard, but it has been gaining popularity over the past few Olympics. Not many will go out of their way to look into the sport, so having it so central in this festival may be the start of a new wave of curling throughout Moravia.
Should you want some structure to your athletic exploration, there is an activity card that includes 20 different stations. If you visit nine you get a certificate of achievement; visit 14 and you get a certificate and a medal; and if you visit 19 of the 20 you get a certificate, a medal and a gift.
There are many opportunities for kids, too.
Share the Experience
Of course, there are the actual Olympic Games and the real athletes to consider as well. While you are waiting in line or relaxing after a taxing bit of skating, there are numerous big screen televisions with live feeds from South Korea.
The focus is on the Czech team, but, as the flags that line Pavilion Z attest, there are many international angles on the Olympic Spirit. A total of 92 teams are taking part in the Games, including 91 countries and the Olympic Athletes from Russia.
The atmosphere can be exciting. Every time a Czech athlete is shown on the big screen you can feel the charge in the air.
On the first full day of the festival, Veronika Vítková finished third in the women’s 7.5km biathlon sprint. Hundreds of people held their collective breaths as she aimed during the shooting segments. When she finished third — having missed just one target — it was as if the entire festival had earned the bronze medal with her.
Later, when speed skater Martina Sáblíková took the ice in the women’s 3,000 meters, everyone stopped to watch. Could she add a sixth medal to her remarkable career? Could she medal in the 3,000 for the third Olympics in a row by adding to her gold in Vancouver (2010) and a silver in Sochi (2014)?
For several minutes, the entire festival held out hope. Time splits elicited oohs and aahs. Everyone fidgeted nervously. In the end, Sáblíková finished fourth. People were disappointed. Yet, after the shared the experience of rooting en masse, people moved on to the next stand, just as Sáblíková will move on to her next event.
Hockey games and other marque events will be fun to watch, particularly because of the refreshments throughout.
The Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony was on Friday. Many different exhibitions are planned until the games conclude on Feb. 25.
Click here for more information (in Czech).