It was a most dramatic weekend for the Czech Republic's ice hockey team at the Winter Olympics in Turin. After a surprise defeat at the hands of Switzerland, the Czechs were again beaten by Finland on Saturday. That 4:2 loss was overshadowed by the sidelining of star forward Jaromir Jagr, who was the victim of a brutal foul by Finland's Jarkko Ruutu. Jagr hit the boards very hard and was helped off the ice with blood pouring form his head. Fears that he would follow the injured Dominik Hasek and Patrik Elias home from Turin fortunately didn't become reality, and Jagr had recovered in time to face Italy on Sunday.
That game saw a return to winning ways, with Vaclav Prospal notching up a hat-trick as the Czechs won 4:1. The fourth goal came from Milan Hejduk, while Jaromir Jagr was rested for the third period, when the result appeared secure. The Czech Republic only have two wins out of four games, and many questions have been asked in the Czech media about the team's performance so far.
After the Italy game defender Frantisek Kaberle said he and his team-mates were less than satisfied, but were now looking forward to playing defending champions Canada to decide on final group positions.
"Of course we aren't playing as we imagined we would, but we won today. We now have to prepare to play Canada on Tuesday and to keep trying to perfect our system. We want to improve things before the quarter-finals, and we'll see how that goes."
The Czech cross country skiing manager Kvetoslav Zalcik could well have cost the Czech Republic a third medal in Turin, after making an outrageous mistake. On Sunday he submitted the wrong line-up for the men's relay race: Milan Sperl was supposed to ski the last leg of the 4x10-km relay but Zalcik accidentally left him off the list, and submitted the name of reserve skier Dusan Kozisek instead.
By the time the gaffe was discovered it was too late to rectify and Kozisek had to race while the unfortunate Sperl looked on. The Czechs had been in third place, but finished ninth after the inexperienced Kozisek skied one of the slowest leg times of the race. As for Zalcik, he was immediately sacked and sent home.
Ski jumper Jakub Janda had been one of the Czech Republic's brightest hopes going into the Winter Olympics. However, it all went wrong for Janda in Turin, and his games ended on Saturday with tenth place in the large hill competition.
Ales Valenta, who shot to fame when he took gold in freestyle aerial skiing four years ago in Salt Lake City, will attempt to defend his title despite injuring his knee in training last week.
The Czech football league resumed at the weekend after the winter break, with leaders Liberec beating last season's champions Sparta Prague 2:1 in the capital. That takes their lead on Sparta to 18 points. Slavia Prague, meanwhile, are eight points behind Liberec in second after beating Jablonec 2:0. Slavia were in European action last week, beating Palermo 2:1 at home in the UEFA Cup. The second leg takes place on Thursday.
Czech manager Karel Bruckner has called up three new players for a friendly against Turkey at the start of next month. Striker Vaclav Sverkos of Hertha Berlin, midfielder David Kobylik of Bielefeld and Liberec back Tomas Zapotocny will all join the Czech squad for the first time.
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