In Magazine: a Czech adrenalin junkie tries to join as many Olympic races as he can, Pilsner Urquell promises Czech medalists a year of free beer, the oldest-serving clerk in the country has worked under 26 ministers, the Danish royal family orders a glass sarcophagus from a Czech firm and the highest Czech mountain peak is actually in Poland!
Josef Panuška is in his element – an Olympics adrenalin junkie he is never happier than devising ways to infiltrate Olympic races. Although he has never been on any official sports list he has managed to take part in the 2004 Olympic games in Athens, the 2006 games in Turin and the 2012 Summer Olympics in London – taking part in different disciplines each time. In Athens, where he joined the 42 km marathon he was barely noticed, in Turin he managed to infiltrate the 50 km cross country ski event –arriving at the finishing line several hours after the race had officially ended but deliriously happy to have taken part. In London where he joined the triathlon on his bike he was led off the track 20 times by the organizers –but kept coming back for the adrenalin rush of being involved. Panuška, 46, says taking part is more important than winning and is preparing to try to slip in among the contestants of the giant slalom in Sochi.
The Pilsner Urquell brewery has promised athletes from the Czech Republic who win a medal at the Sochi Olympics a year of free beer. The Czechs have so far bagged two silver and one bronze medal at Sochi. Speed skater Martina Sáblíkova finished second in the women’s 3,000-meter event, Ondřej Moravec finished second in the 12.5 kilometer pursuit biathlon race, and his teammate Jaroslav Soukup won the bronze in the men’s 10 kilometers biathlon sprint competition. Czechs are hoping to beat the six medals they won at the last Winter Olympics in Vancouver and the vision of a year of free beer may be just the kind of incentive that could give them an edge over their competitors. Pilsner Urquell brand manager Lukas Novotny has provided assurances that however many medals Czechs win, the brewery has “more than enough” beer.
The star of this year’s Opera Ball in Prague was Paul Potts –the 2007 winner of Britain’s Got Talent. The VIP visitor opened the traditional charity event and treated guests to his rendition of the Prince’s aria from Dvorak’s famous opera Rusalka – bravely struggling with the Czech lyrics. He then had the first dance on the floor of the State Opera, waltzing to the sound of The Beautiful Blue Danube. There was a lot of waltzing at this year’s Opera Ball since it was devoted to the memory of Johan Strauss –marking 150 years since the great composer’s birth. The ball raised over 700,000 crowns for charity which is to be divided between supermodel Tereza Maxová’s Foundation for Children and the Heart-wrenchers project which helps people with disabilities to find work.
The oldest-serving clerk in Czech public administration is a 79-year-old woman who has been working in the same position at the Interior Ministry for 58 years, under a total of 26 interior ministers, the daily Lidové noviny reported this week. The clerk, who did not want to reveal her name, took up her post in 1952, at the age of 18, when the ministry was headed by the widely feared communist party heard-liner Václav Nosek. This was at the time when Elizabeth II ascended the British throne, the paper notes. The young clerk was put in charge of the ministry staff's remuneration and has worked in the same position to date which makes her the longest-serving clerk at any Czech ministry. She is reportedly not planning to retire anytime soon and her superiors are happy to have her – she is a walking encyclopedia of the ministry’s history. Although she started out with pen and paper the clerk has had no problem adapting to new work methods as time progressed, including computer literacy, which is indispensable in her post. Although the woman will turn 80 this year, she would like to work for as long as the ministry needs her and for as long as her health allows. Maybe she now deserves a limousine and driver.
The Danish royal family has commissioned a glass sarcophagus from a leading Czech glass-maker. The sarcophagus is to be placed at Roskilde Cathedral which has been the main burial site for Danish monarchs since the 15th century. The glass case will be decorated with the engraved silhouettes of the Danish Queen and Prince. It is to be made of six planes of glass weighing seven tons and was designed by the Danish artist Bjorn Norgaard. Glass master Zdeněk Lhotsky, who considers the commission a huge honour says he is not able to disclose further details and the Danish royal family, which confirmed the commission, has also refused to comment.
A Czech land surveyor has just made headlines by correcting some geographical data and pointing out that the highest Czech mountain peak lies actually lies in neighbouring Poland. Vladimir Hlavsa discovered that the Czech Republic’s highest mountain, Snežka, is slightly higher than previously believed. Snežka in the Giant mountain range in north-eastern Bohemia, is given on maps as being 1,602 meters above sea level. According to Hlavsa that is the height of a triangulation station on Snežka; the highest point on the mountain is actually 1,603.3 meters above sea level and it is located 3.5 meters into Polish territory.