Jaromir Jagr

Jaromir Jagr, Petr Nedved headline Czech Republic Olympic hockey team

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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

Michael Phelps to participate in Shark Week

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NEW YORK (AP) — Olympic champ Michael Phelps is participating in Discovery network’s Shark Week this summer, although he won’t be asked to outswim one.

It’s not immediately clear what Phelps will be doing, although Discovery President Rich Ross said Tuesday he’s intrigued about seeing the fastest human swimmer interact with nature’s fastest. Perhaps Phelps can be encouraged to go underwater in a shark cage, he said.

The week of shark-themed programming in mid-summer is annually Discovery’s biggest event. Now that it is approaching its 29th year, programmers are on the lookout for a new wrinkle.

Phelps has won 28 Olympic swimming medals, 23 of them gold.

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World Figure Skating Championships ice dance preview

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Alex Shibutani says he and sister Maia have made a statement the past two years.

“With our ability to perform when the stakes are highest,” he said.

The stakes don’t get much higher than this week.

The Shibutani siblings, breakout world silver medalists a year ago, lead three U.S. couples who finished in the top six at the 2016 World Championships into this year’s worlds in Helsinki.

It is the strongest ice dance field since the Sochi Olympics. The PyeongChang Winter Games medal contenders will be confirmed this week.

The clear favorites are Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, the 2010 Olympic champions competing this season for the first time since taking silver in Sochi. Virtue and Moir returned from their two-year break to post the three highest total scores of all time in their last three international competitions.

“This is probably the most prepared we’ve been for a world championships,” Moir said, while adding, “this was a warm-up season.”

PREVIEWS: Men | Women | Pairs | Dance | TV schedule

The Shibutanis finished second (with a personal-best score) to Virtue and Moir at the most recent event, the Four Continents Championships at the 2018 Olympic venue in South Korea in February. The margin separating the two couples — 5.1 points — was considerable.

“We’re sort of in a way in a race against ourselves to try and see how good we can get and how good we can become,” Alex Shibutani said. “Each competition along the way is another step to that eventual goal [the Olympics].”

At worlds, the Shibutanis are in the medal mix with France’s Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron, who won the last two world titles.

The French, already the youngest world champs in 40 years, are trying for the first ice dance three-peat in 20 years.

But they have not progressed this season, unable to match or better their winning score from the 2016 World Championships.

Papadakis and Cizeron train in Montreal with Virtue and Moir, but they struggled (held against their own standard) in both competitions outside of French borders this season. And in different areas — step sequences, twizzles, lifts.

Conversely, it looks like the Shibutanis’ biggest obstacles are well behind them. They went from a world bronze medal in their first senior season together in 2011 to four straight years off the podium.

The Shibutanis hit a nadir at the Sochi Olympics with a ninth-place finish, worst of the three U.S. couples. Maia’s tights snagged on Alex’s sequined jacket during a lift.

The devoted vloggers countered doubts after Sochi by stressing their youth — Alex was 22 then; Maia was 19. They talked about weathering the journey and sticking to a meticulous creative process.

It paid off with their first U.S. title last year, followed by that world silver medal in Boston.

“Last year’s results at the world championships were very energizing for us,” Alex Shibutani said. “People are aware of the career trajectory that we have had. We’ve set ambitious goals because we were so motivated following that result and that exciting string of competitions that we had last season.”

The Shibutanis were actually outscored by two-time world medalists Madison Chock and Evan Bates in the U.S. Championships free dance in January. They stormed back with that personal best at Four Continents, though, erasing any doubt that they are the U.S. couple expected to make the podium in Helsinki.

The U.S. has earned 12 ice dance medals at the last 12 World Championships. In that same span, the U.S. brought home eight medals combined from men’s, women’s and pairs.

The Shibutanis feel confident they will extend recent American success in their discipline.

They would also create more history for sibling skaters. They’re already the most accomplished brother-sister duo since Isabelle and Paul Duchesnay of France won three straight world medals followed by Olympic silver in Albertville.

“We really elevated the way that we compete and perform,” at Four Continents last month, Alex Shibutani said. “Our skating has reached another level.”

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