Jaromir Jagr

Jaromir Jagr, Petr Nedved headline Czech Republic Olympic hockey team

1 Comment

The Czech Republic went back in time for its Olympic hockey team announcement.

1994 Canadian Olympic forward Petr Nedved was named on the 25-man team with the likes of Jaromir Jagr. Nedved, 42, was born in Czechoslavkia and defected to Canada in 1989.

So, Nedved will go 20 years between Olympics. That is a new record span for a Winter Olympian, via the experts at OlympStats.com.

If you remember 1994, Nedved was part of the gold-medal-game shootout with Sweden. He made one shot and missed his other on Tommy Salo. Sweden won in the seventh round as Peter Forsberg scored his legendary goal, and Tommy Salo stopped Paul Kariya

He played 15 NHL seasons, his last in 2006-07 and has spent his twilight playing years in the Czech domestic league. He played for the Czechs at the 2012 World Championships.

Jagr, 41, leads a squad announced Tuesday that has plenty of NHL depth but not nearly as much star power as other Olympic medal threats. He’s the last link to the 1998 Olympic gold medal squad.

The Czechs will be without NHL rookie sensation Tomas Hertl, who underwent knee surgery in December.

The nation was once reliant on goaltending during the Dominik Hasek era. The Dominator allowed two goals over the final four games en route to the 1998 Olympic gold. 

Olympic hockey rosters: U.S. | Canada | Russia | Sweden | Finland | Czech Republic | Slovakia | Switzerland | Latvia | Norway | Austria | Slovenia

Goalie is a position of weakness now. The Czechs are missing 2006 and 2010 Olympic starter Tomas Vokoun, who is on blood thinners after his blood clot scare.

The Czech NHL goalies have goals-against averages in the 3.00 range. Michal Neuvirth, who hasn’t played since Nov. 22 and requested a trade from the Washington Capitals, was not chosen for the Olympic Team.

The Czech Republic won bronze in 2006 and lost in the quarterfinals in 2010.

Here’s the full Czech Republic roster:

Goalies
Ondrej Pavelec — Winnipeg Jets
Alexander Salak — former NHL goalie
Jakub Kovar

Defensemen
Radko Gudas — Tampa Bay Lightning
Zbynek Michalek — Phoenix Coyotes
Michal Rozsival — Chicago Blackhawks
Ladislav Smid — Calgary Flames
Marek Zidlicky — New Jersey Devils
Michal Barinka — former Chicago Blackhawks player
Tomas Kaberle — former NHL player
Lukas Krajicek — former NHL player

Forwards
Patrik Elias — New Jersey Devils
Michael Frolik — Winnipeg Jets
Martin Hanzal — Phoenix Coyotes
Ales Hemsky — Edmonton Oilers
Jaromir Jagr — New Jersey Devils
David Krejci — Boston Bruins
Milan Michalek — Ottawa Senators
Ondrej Palat — Tampa Bay Lightning
Tomas Plekanec — Montreal Canadiens
Vladimir Sobotka — St. Louis Blues
Jakub Voracek — Philadelphia Flyers
Roman Cervenka — former Calgary Flames player
Petr Nedved — former NHL player
Jiri Novotny — former NHL player

Mark McMorris, after horrible injury, ups risk for 2 gold medals in PyeongChang

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 08: Mark McMorris of Canada waits for his score after his second run during the Snowboard Men's Slopestyle Final during day 1 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park on February 8, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Mark McMorris remembers the day in July 2011 when he found out he could one day be an Olympian.

The Saskatchewan native was at a Canadian steakhouse watching TSN. A report said slopestyle snowboarding had been added to the Olympics for the next Winter Games in Sochi in three years.

Holy s***,” McMorris, in a phone interview last week, remembered thinking to himself. “I have a really good chance at going because I won this event so many times.”

McMorris was only 17 years old then, but he had already won a World Cup slopestyle contest in January 2010, a month after turning 16. Plus, he took silver at his Aspen Winter X Games debut in January 2011.

McMorris won the X Games in 2012 and 2013, then broke a rib at the 2014 X Games, 12 days before his Olympic debut. He still made it to Sochi, but the overwhelming favorite tag was gone. McMorris took bronze behind surprise American Sage Kotsenburg.

Since then, two days greatly impacted McMorris’ snowboarding. He will never forget one of them. He doesn’t remember the other.

On June 8, 2015, the International Olympic Committee added snowboard big air for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games. McMorris, who had won big air at X Games five months earlier, instantly became a favorite for two medals in South Korea. Perhaps two gold medals.

Unlike slopestyle, McMorris doesn’t remember how he heard about big air’s Olympic inclusion. He believes his medal chances in PyeongChang are equal in both events.

“Some people might say slope, because I win more slope contests,” said McMorris, who starred in a reality TV show with big brother Craig, “McMorris & McMorris,” and has his own video game. “But I also win the big air contests when I land. Usually, I go all in rather than get second or third. I try my harder stuff.”

McMorris swept big air and slopestyle at the 2015 X Games and nearly did it again in 2016, edged by countryman Max Parrot in big air by two points. Parrot also beat McMorris in slopestyle at the Laax Open in Switzerland last week. He is clearly the biggest rival heading to PyeongChang.

McMorris plans to compete in both big air and slopestyle at Aspen this week, and could win both. This is remarkable given what happened Feb. 21, 2016.

McMorris broke his right femur in an Air and Style big air run in Los Angeles (video here). His rehab has been extensively documented by Canadian media.

McMorris returned to competition in November and quickly returned to winning. He captured a big air test event at the PyeongChang Olympic venue.

“For sure, I was nervous and stressed, but I put so much time into my rehabilitation and made sure I was super strong,” McMorris said of trying high-risk tricks again, like the frontside triple cork 1440 he attempted at Air and Style. “You can work as hard as you can to feel like you were at one point. I did that, and it ended up working out super well.”

McMorris said he falls every day in training, testing his surgically repaired right leg with a titanium rod the length of his femur.

“Not concern, but for sure I feel my leg somedays,” he said. “Big impact [fall], I’ll feel it in my groin. I’ll get some metallic feeling in the back of my knee, sort of where the femur meets the knee. I deal with my leg most days when I wake up. It just takes me a little bit longer to warm up. It still works pretty good.”

McMorris is credited as the first rider to land a backside triple cork 1440 in 2011. He’s working on more difficult tricks.

“Trying to perfect the switch backside triple cork 1620, which is kind of a new one in our industry,” he said. “I’ve never been able to do it in a slopestyle run. I’ve done it one time in a big air event at X Games last year. I’d love to do that in slopestyle, trying to link three triple corks together, which would set me up to be in a pretty good place.”

At this time four years ago, a McMorris-Shaun White rivalry was being hyped for the first Olympic slopestyle event. White had won his last X Games slopestyle start in 2009 and started training the event again for a Sochi slopestyle-halfpipe double.

McMorris dominated the 2013 Winter X Games with the two highest scores, while White was fifth. White ended up dropping out of slopestyle on the eve of the Winter Olympics, drawing criticism from Canadian riders, but notably not McMorris.

The McMorris-White relationship took a twist last February when McMorris suffered his broken femur at White’s Air and Style event. McMorris said he got hurt because of an uneven landing area, according to CBC.

In July, a video of White and McMorris skateboarding together in New York City was published on White’s social media accounts. McMorris said last week he might compete in Air and Style next month, though he didn’t want to answer White-related questions.

White said earlier this month he has dropped slopestyle altogether. It’s unknown if or when Kotsenburg will return to competition. He wasn’t invited to X Games.

McMorris can’t speak to the Americans, but he can say he’s feeling more confident going into the Olympic year than four years ago.

“Because I’ve been through the ringer once of the Olympics,” he said. “I know what’s coming. I know what I need to do, and I understand what it takes to perform under pressure. Hopefully, this time, I don’t have a broken rib. I’m pretty aware what the level’s going to be like in a year’s time. But you never know, it’s a judged sport as well.”

VIDEO: NBC’s lookahead to PyeongChang

European Figure Skating Championships broadcast schedule

AP
AP
Leave a comment

NBC Sports will air live coverage of the European Figure Skating Championships in Ostrava, Czech Republic, this week.

The competition includes reigning world champions Javier Fernandez of Spain, Yevgenia Medvedeva of Russia and ice dancers Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France.

NBCSN will provide live coverage that will also be streamed on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app.

Andrea Joyce and 2011 U.S. champion Ryan Bradley will call the action on NBCSN, while 2006 Olympic ice dance silver medalist Ben Agosto will join the team for ice dance coverage.

Skaters are preparing for the world championships in Helsinki in two months.

MORE: U.S. figure skating could have its best world team since 2006

Day Time (ET) Event Network
Wednesday Noon Women’s Short NBCSN
Wednesday 2 p.m. Pairs Short (LIVE) NBCSN
Thursday Noon Short Dance NBCSN
Thursday 2 p.m. Pairs Free (LIVE) NBCSN
Friday Noon Men’s Short NBCSN
Friday 2 p.m. Women’s Free (LIVE) NBCSN
Saturday 9 a.m. Free Dance (LIVE) NBCSN
Saturday 6 p.m. Men’s Free NBCSN
Saturday, Feb. 4 3 p.m. Women’s/Men’s Free NBC