Kaltounkova and Jandusikova Share the Long Journey from the Czech Republic to Vermont

by Jashvina Shah

Kristyna Kaltounkova and Klara Jandusikova both play for Vermont Academy. They’ll both graduate in 2020. But the similarities between the two players extend far beyond their prep school and class year; it extends across an ocean.

Both Kaltounkova and Jandusikova came to the U.S. from the Czech Republic to pursue hockey. And they both have skated for the Czech national team, most recently playing in the U18 championships this past season.

Kaltounkova registered a goal and an assist in a preliminary game against Switzerland. Against Finland, Jandusikova scored the second goal while Kaltounkova registered the game winner. The Czech Republic lost to Canada in the quarterfinals, where Kaltounkova assisted on the lone Czech goal.

Kaltounkova, an ’02, played for the U18 team last year. But she was so young she needed to get special approval from the IIHF to play. This season marked Jandusikova’s debut at U18 worlds.

“It was a good experience for me as a hockey player because it was good to watch other girls or like teams, how they play and just work hard and play as a team, and to play for my home country,” Jandusikova said.

Kaltounkova decided to come to the U.S. a couple of years ago as she was finishing up elementary school — which goes until ninth grade — in the Czech Republic. She wanted to go abroad for the combination of good education and good hockey.

“In Czech, it’s hard to play hockey and go to school, it’s hard for timing. It’s kind of exhausting,” Jandusikova said. “In the USA it’s better combination to play hockey, to study and play hockey.”

They both decided Vermont Academy was the best choice.

“It’s different between the rink because we have bigger rinks,” Kaltounkova said. “Also the plays are kind of different, because in Czech we play more for ourselves, not for our teams, so it’s really different in this way. Also the strategy is different so it was a big change to play here in comparing to play in the Czech Republic.”

Kaltounkova, a Colgate recruit, began playing hockey when she was three. Her brother was skating and playing, so she wanted to do it too — and do it better than him.

“Something inside me was like no, I have to do it too because he does that,” Kaltounkova said. “I wanted to be better than him every time.”

Jandusikova started because her parents wanted to teach her how to skate, eventually bringing her to play with her friends. During her time playing hockey, Jandusikova faced a few challenges — including a few years ago when she was played with boys but didn’t receive as much support as she needed. Her family and friends helped her continue her hockey career. Now in the U.S., both players have received support from Vermont Academy.

“Vermont Academy is something special,” Kaltounkova said. “It was like really tough because the first step that I made to go to this school and to the U.S. was really hard but VA helped me a lot like mentally, but also they helped me to do stuff to school and just help me improve like myself in hockey. It wasn’t that tough, because VA helped me a lot so I’m really thankful for that.”