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HOCKEY

Magnificent seven as Swedes reach hockey final

Sweden continued its mastery over the Czech Republic as seven players scored to secure a 7-3 win over the world champions and book a place in the Olympic Games ice hockey final on Friday.

Sweden scored four second period goals and advances to its first Olympic final in 12 years where they will play either Russia or Finland.

“We got knocked out of the last two Olympics so this feels pretty incredible,” forward Peter Forsberg said.

The Swedes spread their scoring around as Daniel Alfredsson, Fredrik Modin, Per Johan Axelsson, Christian Backman, Henrik Sedin, Jörgen Jönsson and Tomas Holmström all found the net.

Sweden had history on their side as they and the Czechs have met nine times in the Olympics, with Sweden winning six.

This is the first time in Olympic history that both the Swedish men’s and women’s teams have reached the gold medal game in the same Winter Games. The women lost 4-1 to Canada.

“It is great for Swedish hockey,” Forsberg said.

“The women were in the final and now we are in the final – it shows that Swedish hockey is coming back after a couple of down years.”

Modin and Sedin scored early in the first and second period to set the tone for the Swedes’ win.

Sweden captured the gold medal on Forsberg’s shootout winner in 1994, and the Swedes have won a medal in four of the last seven Olympics.

Forsberg was so desperate to take part in the Olympics that he is playing with a groin injury which kept him out of a number of games with the Philadelphia Flyers prior to coming to Turin.

The Swedes can now forget about the Belarus debacle at Salt Lake City when they were beaten in the quarter-finals.

The Czechs, who won the gold medal in Nagano in 1998, played without star goalie Dominik Hasek who left Turin with a leg injury suffered in their first game.

Their goaltending problems came back to haunt them Friday as Tomas Vokoun had to come into the game in the second period to replace starter Milan Hnilicka who gave up the five Swedish goals.

Hnilicka had allowed just one goal in five periods since replacing Vokoun in the Canada preliminary round match but he didn’t bring his best game on Friday.

Modin opened the scoring for Sweden just 34 seconds into the game by taking a smart cross-ice pass from Forsberg and one-timing a blast past Hnilicka.

Sweden took a 3-1 lead with another quick goal to start a period when the Sedin twins (Daniel and Henrik) combined 1:16 into the second.

Czech star Jaromir Jagr gave the puck up in the neutral zone and Henrik and Daniel broke free on a two-on-one with Daniel finishing it off.

“We got scored on at the beginning of both periods and we made a lot of individual mistakes,” Czech coach Alois Hadamczik said.

Alfredsson helped ice the victory with the key goal at 19:00 of the third period to make it 6-3.

Axelsson did most of the work, getting the puck deep in the Czech end then outbattling defenceman Pavel Kubina for the puck before feeding Alfredsson in the slot who fired it home.

AFP

For members

STOCKHOLM

The year Sweden organized the Olympics and defied expectations

Stockholm Olympic Stadium defied those who said Sweden wasn't advanced enough to host the Olympic Games in 1912, and has survived to become the world's oldest Olympic stadium actively in use.

The year Sweden organized the Olympics and defied expectations
Stockholm's Olympic Stadium as it used to look. Photo: Bertil Norberg/TT

This article was written for Members of The Local. Read more articles for Members here.

Taking inspiration from the medieval city wall of Visby on the Swedish island of Gotland, Swedish architect and athlete Torben Grut designed a stadium for the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm that would stand as a fortress of athleticism.

His success was both immediate and enduring, and the now-historic stadium has lived up to its impressive façade for more than a century, hosting countless sporting and cultural events, witnessing more than 80 athletic world records, surviving a bombing, and simply reminding the world of its important place in Olympic history.

Initially, however, the outlook for both the stadium and the Stockholm Olympics – the fifth modern Olympic games – was far from promising. As historian Therese Nordlund Edvinsson wrote in a 2014 article in The International Journal of the History of Sport, despite Sweden's “modest ambitions” for the games, “critics argued that the country was too undeveloped to arrange a major sport event”.

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Djurgården versus AIK in 1915 at Stockholm Stadium. Photo: TT

The original plan for the stadium was an accordingly modest – and temporary – whitewashed wooden structure. The decision to make it permanent was likely a relief to Grut, whose other designs included Solliden Palace, the summer residence of the Swedish royal family on the island of Öland. Though still relatively small, with an original seating capacity of around 20,000, the completed stadium became a model for subsequent Olympic stadiums. Likewise, and in defiance of the critics, the Stockholm Olympic Games were considered a great success.  

In a 2012 article entitled, “Stockholm 1912 set the gold standard for the modern Olympics,” in the British newspaper The Guardian, sports journalist Frank Keating wrote, “Stockholm's 1912 Games are still considered standard-setting for Olympic decades to come. Women's competition was allowed for swimming and diving, while men's boxing was banned: and on the track photo-finish electronic-timing was introduced as a back-up to the hand-held judges' stopwatch.” It was also, he explained, “the last Olympics where any individual could just turn up and hope to enter a competition”.

MORE HISTORY FEATURES BY VICTORIA MARTÍNEZ:


One of the numerous concerts organized at the Stockholm Stadium. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Over the years, the appearance of Stockholm Olympic Stadium has changed little, and the seating capacity has even been reduced. In 2011 and 2012, the stadium underwent its only major renovation in preparation for its centenary. Nonetheless, it has been an incredibly adaptable venue, serving for many years as home to Swedish football team Djurgårdens IF, and accommodating a wide variety of sporting and cultural events – from ice hockey to American football and from Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti to Swedish DJ Avicii. It is also where the Stockholm Marathon ends each year.

The stadium has also maintained a long and at times somewhat chequered connection to the Olympic Games. In 1956, for instance, the equestrian events of the Summer Olympics taking place in Melbourne, Australia, were hosted some 15,000 kilometres away in Stockholm Olympic Stadium due to animal quarantine restrictions in Australia. And in August 1997, as Stockholm vied to host the 2004 Summer Olympics, the stadium was one of several sites in Sweden bombed or set alight by Swedish far-right extremists opposed to Sweden hosting the games.

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Although modern stadiums designed or used for the Summer Olympics now typically seat three to four times more people than Stockholm Olympic Stadium did in 1912, the historic venue still has a chance of returning to its Olympic origins. If Stockholm-Åre is selected to host the Winter Olympics in 2026, the snowboarding competitions are slated to take place in the landmark stadium, neatly tying together 114 years of Olympic history.

Victoria Martínez is an American historical researcher, writer and author of three historical non-fiction books. She lives in Småland county, Sweden, with her Spanish husband and their two children.

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