Czechs are avid sportsmen and sportswomen. In the summertime, Prague empties out as residents head to their country cottages to hike or bike in clean air. In winter the action shifts to the mountains, a few hours to the north and east of the city, for decent downhill and cross-country skiing. If the ponds freeze over in Prague's Stromovka Park, kids nab their skates for pickup ice-hockey games—a national mania.
The most popular spectator sport, bar none, is ice hockey. Czechs are world hockey champions, and the Czech gold medal at the Nagano Winter Olympics in 1998 is held up as a national achievement practically on par with the 1989 Velvet Revolution. If you're here in wintertime, witness the fervor by seeking out tickets to an Extraliga game. The main Prague teams are Sparta and Slavia.
Soccer plays a perennial second fiddle to hockey, although the Czech national soccer team ranks among the best in the world. Prague's main professional team, Sparta, play their home games at Toyota Arena near Letná.