The heat is on across Europe in the height of summer, and Brno is no different ahead of the Monster Energy Grand Prix České republiky. So what better place to cool off than out on the ice with HC Kometa Brno?
Czechia’s most successful ice hockey team welcomed home heroes Karel Abraham (Reale Avintia Racing), Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PrüstelGP) and teammate Filip Salač to the pre-event on Thursday as the three took to the ice alongside Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar), Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) and Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46), with some sharpening their skills…and some very much first timers.
The first challenge, though, was the equipment: from skates to helmets, getting in the gear takes some effort in itself. But once suited and booted, it was time to head out onto the ice and, for some, get their first taste of it.
So who hit the ground skating? Schrötter was undoubtedly the immediate star of the show, with the German rider having even played in an ice hockey team before his career as a rider really took over. And Abraham, who has been to the venue as a fan in his home city before, was also up to speed almost from the off. Mir and Marini were definitely the ones with most to learn…
Amazingly, however, there wasn’t a single crash and plenty of impressive performances. From skating to passing to shooting and then even some mini clashes with the riders split up into two teams – Czechia vs the world – everyone stayed upright and most didn’t want to head back into the locker room.
After a few extra minutes though it was time to down sticks and swap shirts, with each rider getting some HC Kometa kit and the players who’d been helping them taking home some team merch – all signed as a memento of the event.
Joan Mir: “I’ve never tried it before, I’ve done similar things like skiing but nothing like that is the same! First I tried to stand on the ice then try to shoot a bit. It was good and I enjoyed it, I want to thank Dorna for inviting me to come here and to the guys who helped me to learn a bit. It’s always nice to learn different sports and different things and I enjoyed it.”
Karel Abraham: “I’ve done ice skating before but the last time I did it was about a year and a half ago, so I can ice skate but I’m not great at it and it must be ten years since I had a hockey stick it my hands! It was a great experience and I’m a big fan of Kometa so I’m really happy to have been able to join them for training.
“This is my home GP so it’s very special for me, a lot of fans, sponsors…I’m looking forward to it but I’m a bit stressed to be honest! I think that’s normal for a home GP.”
Marcel Schrötter: “I wouldn’t say I was pro…but yeah I used to play a little bit! It was nice to be back out on the ice again, it’s a long time since I played but it was nice. And even the smell in here…it’s bad but nice somehow and I remember it well! It’s really different as a pre-event, we’re used to being outside in the heat with the heat of the engine…and here is the opposite! I enjoyed today and I think it was a really cool event.”
Luca Marini: “It was my first time doing ice hockey, I did some skating before but it was different today. And I really enjoyed this new experience because I love all sports. I didn’t think it would be so difficult and I’m happy to have played and had some fun with these incredible guys, they play really well and I hope I can try it again soon!”
Jakub Kornfeil: “For me it was my first time playing ice hockey, a few people said I looked like I knew what I was doing but it was the first time and I really enjoyed it! I was just trying to listen to the players and what they were telling us. I really enjoyed it and thanks to Dorna and everyone who made this event happen.
“There are a lot of things at my home race…it’s a huge event for me, my family and sponsors and fans. I’ll just try to enjoy it to the maximum! Last year we were really fast, let’s keep our fingers crossed!”
Filip Salač: “This is a different weekend for me, with the home fans and pressure, as there is for Karel and Jakub. It will be a difficult weekend but I’m really looking forward to FP1 in front of the home fans. And I really enjoyed today on the ice skates…I did it last about four years ago but I enjoyed it a lot and it was a really good experience!”
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