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2014 WINTER OLYMPICS

HOCKEY

Sweden down Czechs in Olympic hockey opener

Two goals by Erik Karlsson helped Sweden defeat the Czech Republic 4-2 in the opening game of the 2014 Winter Olympics hockey tournament on Wednesday.

Sweden down Czechs in Olympic hockey opener
Sweden celebrates a goal against the Czech Republic in the second period of Wednesday's game. Photo: AP

Sweden built a 4-0 lead then allowed the Czechs to score two straight goals in the middle period before holding on in the third for the Group C preliminary round victory at the Bolshoi Ice Dome.

"We came out really strong in the first and controlled the pace," said Karlsson. "Everybody did their job."

In the other game Wednesday night, Switzerland scored with just eight seconds left in the third period to beat Latvia 1-0 at the Shayba Arena.

Karlsson scored the opening goal of the 2014 men's tournament halfway through the first period while the Swedes had an extra attacker on the ice because of a delayed penalty to the Czechs.

Karlsson's shot from the point beat Czech goalie Jakub Kovar who was being screened by Sweden's Daniel Alfredsson. His second goal was also partly the result of a forward parked in front of the net screening the goaltender.

"The first one was a great screen. The second one was a great screen as well. I just hit the spot," Karlsson said.

"It feels nice to contribute with a couple of goals. Sometimes you just have to be in the right spot."

Henrik Zetterberg and Patrik Berglund also scored for Sweden who won the gold medal in 2006 in Turin.

Jaromir Jagr and Marek Zidlicky scored for the Czechs who are coming off their worst-ever Olympic outing, finishing in seventh place at Vancouver 2010.

Henrik Lundqvist was superb in goal for Sweden, stopping a total of 29 shots. The Czechs outshot Sweden 15-5 in the third period but Lundqvist closed the door.

"It was fun to be out there," Lundqvist said. "We got a really good start. After they scored their second goal things changed but I am happy with the way we regrouped."

Berglund gave the Swedes a 2-0 lead with 6:53 left in the second. Berglund skated across the blueline, chipped the puck off the boards to himself then beat Kovar with a slapshot to the blocker side.

RELATED: Sweden's ten best winter Olympic heroes

Czech coach Alois Hadamczik pulled starting goalie Kovar and replaced him with Alexander Salak after Zetterberg scored to make it 3-0 just 51 seconds into the second.

Hadamczik's decision to start Kovar in the first game of the tournament ahead of Ondrej Pavelec surprised some people. Winnipeg Jets goalie Pavelec didn't even dress for Wednesday's game.

Karlsson scored his second of the game to make it 4-0 just over four minutes into the second.

The goaltending switch appeared to spark the Czechs as Jagr and Zidlicky scored goals less than two minutes apart in the second to cut the Swedes lead to 4-2. Zidlicky scored after taking a drop pass from Patrik Elias and Jagr's one-handed backhand shot rolled off the far post and went in.

Simon Moser scored the only goal for the Swiss who hammered away at Latvian goaltender Edgars Masalskis throughout the game until they finally got the game winner in the final seconds.

Moser used teammate Nino Niederreiter as a screen as his shot went off Masalski's arm and into the net.

DON'T MISS: Hockey wasn't always Sweden's pride on ice
 

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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.

READ ALSO: Polls suggest Italians much more enthusiastic about Olympic bid than Swedes

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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