Zdeno Chara

Slovakia Olympic hockey team beset by key injuries

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For most of the 1990s, major hockey championships were decided among six nations — the U.S., Canada, Russia, Sweden, Finland and the Czech Republic.

Slovakia bridged the gap with the turn of the century, making the quarterfinals of the 2006 Olympics and, in 2010, upsetting Sweden to reach the semifinals, where it put a scare into Canada.

It will be an outside medal threat in Sochi, leaning on goaltender Jaroslav Halak and defenseman Zdeno Chara while injuries may keep two NHL All-Stars at home.

Potent forward Marian Gaborik has a broken collarbone, and experienced defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky has been out since Oct. 19 with a concussion.

Both were named to the team but can be replaced by Feb. 12.

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

A key member of the 2010 Olympic Team was NHL All-Star Pavol Demitra, who died a year later in the KHL Lokomotiv plane crash.

Here’s the full Slovakia roster:

Goalies
Peter Budaj — Montreal Canadiens
Jaroslav Halak — St. Louis Blues
Jan Laco

Defensemen
Zdeno Chara — Boston Bruins
Martin Marincin — Edmonton Oilers
Andrej Meszaros — Philadelphia Flyers
Andrej Sekera — Carolina Hurricanes
Lubomir Visnovsky — New York Islanders
Ivan Baranka
Dominik Granak
Michal Sersen

Forwards
Marian Gaborik — Columbus Blue Jackets
Michal Handzus — Chicago Blackhawks
Marian Hossa — Chicago Blackhawks
Tomas Jurco — Detroit Red Wings
Tomas Kopecky — Florida Panthers
Richard Panik — Tampa Bay Lightning
Tomas Tatar — Detroit Red Wings
Milan Bartovic — former NHL player
Marcel Hossa — former NHL player
Tomas Marcinko
Michel Miklik
Peter Olvecky
Tomas Surovy
Tomas Zaborsky

Canada names Olympic Opening Ceremony flag bearers

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Figure skaters Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are Canada’s flag bearers for the PyeongChang Olympic Opening Ceremony on Feb. 9.

It’s the first time Canada will have multiple flag bearers at an Opening Ceremony.

Virtue and Moir won ice dance gold at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games and silver in Sochi in 2014.

After a two-year break, they went undefeated last season and won their third world championship.

They lost for the first time in their comeback at last month’s Grand Prix Final to French Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron.

Canada finished in the top three in the total medal standings at the last three Winter Olympics, including topping the gold-medal standings at the 2010 Vancouver Games with a record 14.

Recent Canadian Winter Olympic flag bearers
2014 Opening: Hayley Wickenheiser, Hockey
2014 Closing: Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse, Bobsled
2010 Opening: Clara Hughes, Speed Skating
2010 Closing: Joannie Rochette, Figure Skating
2006 Opening: Danielle Goyette, Hockey
2006 Closing: Cindy Klassen, Speed Skating
2002 Opening: Catriona Le May Doan, Speed Skating
2002 Closing: Jamie Sale and David Pelletier, Figure Skating

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MORE: Canada’s Olympic figure skating team roster

Dale Earnhardt Jr. to cover Super Bowl LII, Olympics for NBC

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. will cover Super Bowl LII and the PyeongChang Olympics as a contributor for NBC.

Earnhardt will spend the first weekend in February covering the outdoor activities in Minneapolis for the Super Bowl Pre-Game Show (NBC, Feb. 4).

Then he will travel to South Korea for the Winter Games.

From NBC Sports PR:

“Earnhardt will travel to PyeongChang, where he will explore the culture, people, and traditions in South Korea, and experience Olympic competitions first hand. Earnhardt will visit the speed skating venue at Gangneung Ice Arena, and through the lens of a racer will view the speed, close contact, and tight turns on the short track speed skating oval, which so closely mirror Earnhardt’s racing days and nights at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Following a recent invite on social media from his new friends on the U.S. bobsled team, including U.S. bobsled team pilot Nick Cunningham, Earnhardt will also travel to Alpensia Sliding Center, where he will test the true speed of the bobsled track and live out his post-retirement dream of riding in an Olympic bobsled.”

Earnhardt, 43, retired last year after 19 NASCAR seasons, which included Daytona 500 wins in 2004 and 2014.

He is now a NASCAR on NBC analyst.

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