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OlympicIRL

Winter Olympic Games 2018 Official Countdown Thread

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 13 weeks / 3 months to go ! 

 

 

 

Two more milestones have been passed this week..... the Games are now just 13 weeks away and the 3 months to go barrier has also been breached!

 

 

 

Key:
a1 6 months to go
a2 3 months to go
a3 1 month to go
b1 150 days to go
b2 100 days to go
b3 75 days to go
c1 Four Hills Tournament begins
c2 Hahnenkamm Race begins
c3 Winter X Games begin
d1 tickets go on sale
d2 2018 Olympic year arrives (Jan 1st)
d3 2018 Olympic Prediction Contests Open on Totallympics
e1 lighting of Olympic flame in Olympia, Greece
e2 Olympic flame arrives in Incheon
e3 Olympic flame arrives in Gangwon province
x Olympic cauldron is lit

 

 

 

 

 

                                   30        
                   30     30     c1  
                30 30   e3   c2    
                30   b3 x c3 30    
                  a3 d3      
                30     d2    
          12   30         30  
          11                
          10                
          9                
          8                
                           
7 6 5 4 3 2 1              

 

PyeongChang 2018

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--------49-----------------48------------------27-----------------24-------------------04----------------01-

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--47----------------------------46-------29-----------------------------22-------06----------------------------03

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--45-----------------------38--43-------30--33-------------------16--21-------08--13------------------------05

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--------44-----------40---41------------------28--31-------20--23-------------------10--11-----------07---

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Ice Hockey Tournament at Innsbruck 1976

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Soviet Union, 1976 Olympic Champions, 5th Olympic title (4th in a row)

 

 

The Men´s Ice Hockey Tournament at the Winter Olympic Games 1976, took place at the Olympiahalle, Innsbruck, Austria. The same venue which hosted the Olympic tournament 12 years ago. The Consolation round matches were contested at the smaller Messehalle also in Innsbruck. The tournament was attended by 12 teams and was played from 2nd to 14th February 1976.

 

USSR won their 5th Olympic title (4th in a row) ahead of 2nd Czechoslovakia and 3rd West Germany. Just like 4 years ago in Sapporo, Canada once again decided to not participate. The Canadians continued their boycott, protesting against the "Amateur rules" which strongly advantaged the former Communist hockey powerhouses using their eligible "hidden employees" best players. But this time also Sweden having already at that time several players in the NHL, decided to join to the boycott and announced their withdrawal from the tournament. Other two additional qualified countries East Germany and Norway also did not participated to the tournament, confirming then only 12 participating nations.

 

All 12 countries were paired according to their placements in last previous Ice Hockey World Championships in 1975 into 6 qualification matches. The winners advanced to the Medal round and 6 losing teams went to the Consolation round (Group of 7th-12th places), both were played in a traditional Round-Robin format (every team playing once each opponent).

 

The qualification matches ended without any big surprise, all 6 top seeded countries won their games and did qualified for the medal round. USSR outclassed the Host Austria 16-3, United States defeated Yugoslavia 8-4, Finland won over Japan 11-2, West Germany against Switzerland 5-1 and Poland over Romania 7-4. Another big favorite of the tournament Czechoslovakia defeated the debuting Bulgaria 14-1.

 

Czechoslovakia was considered to be the main rival of the Soviets. The current Czechoslovakian team was at that time one of the strongest and most talented teams in the history, which was later proved by two back-to-back world champion titles in Katowice and Vienna 76 and 77. Unfortunately the team suffered several hard experiences in Innsbruck, everything started with a contagious Flu epidemic inside the team resulting in the game against Poland, when the team played with only 12 players on the bench. Czechoslovakia still managed to defeat the Poles easily 7-1 but one of the players using antibiotics ordered by the doctor was caught after the game for doping violation, the result was then recorded in favor of Poland 1-0, Poland did not receive any point though. But The sudden and unexpected loss of points from this match stopped considerably the hope for gold.

But still before the final day they were still in the battle for the overall triumph in case of win against USSR. The match started well for the Czechoslovaks, leading 2-0 and 3-2 during the match, but the Soviets managed to score two late goals (the winner scored by the legendary Kharlamov in the 56th minute) and win the game 4-3 to winning gold with 10 points.

 

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As expected the USSR - Czechoslovakia clash scheduled for the last day, was the real finale and "direct" match for gold

 

The other big surprise of the tournament was definitely the West German team. winning bronze, which is still valuated as one of the biggest result in the history of German ice Hockey. After the withdrawal of Canada and Sweden, it was Finland (which finished 4th in the last six world championships in a row !!!) who was considered as the main favorite for bronze ahead of USA. But it was the West Germans who took the bronze topping the mini table of 3 teams finishing the medal round with 4 points behind USSR and Czechoslovakia. West Germany lost to Finland 3-5 in the final round second game, but After the surprising win of the Americans over Finland 5-4, The win 4-1 in the very last match against the United States was enough for the team around Erich Kuhnhackel to finish third ahead of 4th Finland and 5th USA. Poland just like 4 years ago finished again last 6th in the medal round pointless.

 

38364946_303.jpg

The biggest surprise of the tournament was definitely the West German team, picture from the winning last match over the United States (4-1) which brought them the unexpected Bronze

 

 

Romania with 8 points topped the consolation round to grab a valuable 7th place just in front of 8th Austria and 9th Japan.

 

Czechoslovakia with a team that won the world title a couple of months later and maintained it also the next year too started the tournament very well recording a easy win over the debuting Bulgaria in the qualification game 14-1,

but then started troubles.

At first a serious influenza inside the team, with many players resting in the Olympic village because of illness a decimated team entered the medal round. In the first matches it was enough, but they fought hard to beat Finland 2-1, scoring two unanswered goals in the second part of the game and turning the outcome of the match. In the second game the team defeated USA 5-0 with only 14 players fielded in the line up. In the next match it was only 12 players assigned in the 7-1 win over Poland. Unfortunately one of them was tested positive after the match and the team consequently lost the match 0-1 and lost the points from the match.

The really Angry team then defeated the West Germans 7-4 to definitely assure at least the medal. there was finally still a chance for the gold in case of win over the Soviets in the last match, but the stronger Soviet players won this game 4-3 and took the gold. Until now this tournament is still considered as our another missed huge chance for the Olympic glory.

 

 

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1976 Olympic medalists, from left Czechoslovakia, USSR, West Germany

 

 

Final Ranking:

1. USSR :WHT

2. Czechoslovakia :CZE

3. West Germany :GER

4. Finland

5. United States

6. Poland

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

7. Romania  -  Consolation Round

8. Austria  - Consolation Round

9. Japan  - Consolation Round

10. Yugoslavia  - Consolation Round

11. Switzerland  - Consolation Round

12. Bulgaria - Consolation Round

 

 

Japanese TV Highlights of the Final match USSR vs Czechoslovakia deciding the Gold

 

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Ice Hockey Tournament at Lake Placid 1980

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United States,

1980 Olympic Champions,

the 22nd February 1980 a team of Collegiate players defeated the top favorite USSR team to reach one of the biggest upsets of the world Sports history,

called by the US press as the "Miracle on Ice"

 

 

The Men´s Ice Hockey Tournament at the Winter Olympic Games 1980 took place from 12th to 24th February 1980 in Lake Placid, USA. For the second time in history after 42 years this New York´s resort hosted the Winter Olympic Games. The matches were played at the Olympic Arena and at the Olympic Fieldhouse.

 

The tournament wasn´t by far the most famous hockey event of history in term of field quality or by the level of the play itself. But, the 1980 Winter Olympic Ice Hockey tournament is Certainly the most famous and world-widely known ice hockey event thanks it´s epic outcome. One of the most underestimated hockey teams in history of this sport won a improbable and totally unexpected gold. The United States team formed from collegiate players shocked the world winning the Gold medals. Especially the win in the match over the top favorite USSR 4-3, became known as the so-called "Miracle on Ice". The win was in the USA considered as a great success and reason for pride of the western part of the world during a time of Cold War tensions, even though it was the next day win against Finland that secured the gold medal.

 

12 Nations entered the tournament. One of the highlights of the championship was the long time awaited return of Canada, which missed the last two tournaments and also Sweden after missing the last event in Innsbruck.

 

All teams were divided into 2 preliminary groups (particularly called the Red and Blue Divisions) Only the top 2 nations from both pools advanced to the final-four (A 4 nations round-robin deciding the medals, Teams from same groups carried their respective results from the preliminary round) the 3rd ranked Nations payed a direct 5th place match, called Consolation Round. Remaining 4 nations finished the tournament ranked by their positioning in the preliminary groups.

 

Three days before the Olympics USA composed by unknown players from US College teams led by the legendary coach Herb Brooks played a exhibition game in the Madison Square Garden against the USSR - 4 times Olympic Champions in a row - and submitted heavily 3-10 to the USSR´s Red Machine. In fact no one expected from the USA to finish among the top 2 teams from the group and this last test match was another prove about.

 

But the Americans experienced a crazy memorable tournament winning 6 of it´s seven games resulting in the second historic Olympic title (Just like in 1960 they won it at home) ahead of USSR winning 7th consecutive Olympic medal (1st silver) and Sweden returning to the medal podium after 12 years.

 

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USA - USSR 4-3 or the "Miracle on Ice",

two weeks before both teams played a exhibition game in the Madison Square Garden and the Soviets outclassed this same host team 10-3 !

 

In the preliminary round pools, Sweden and the United States advanced to the final-four from the Blue Division, Czechoslovakia disappointedly  finished only third and qualified for "only" the 5th place match. Romania, West Germany and Norway failed to advance from the group. In the Group B called Red Division it was as expected the USSR which dominated the field and topped the group without losing a single point. But the biggest upset of the preliminary round was the win of Finland over Canada 4-3 causing a unexpected final round qualification for the Finns. Canada finished just as Czechoslovakia in the other group only third in the group and in their Olympic return had to play only for 5th place.  Poland, debuting the Netherlands and Japan invited to replace the withdrawing East German team only few weeks before the games finished the tourney already in the first round.

 

USA and Sweden carried their 2-2 tie from the preliminary round into the final round, USSR advanced to the final-four with the best position of 2 points win over Finland 4-2. But already in the opening game of the last round surprisingly failed to the USA 3-4 in a match that entered the history as a synonym of one of the biggest sports surprise, the Miracle on Ice. The victory became one of the most iconic moments of the Games and in U.S. sports. Equally well-known was the television call of the final seconds of the game by Al Michaels, in which he famously declared in the final seconds,

 

Quote

" 11 seconds, you've got 10 seconds, the countdown going on right now! Morrow, up to Silk. Five seconds left in the game.

Do you believe in miracles?

YES! "

 

In 1999, Sports Illustrated named the "Miracle on Ice" the top sports moment of the 20th century.As part of its centennial celebration in 2008, the IIHF named the "Miracle on Ice" as the best international ice hockey story of the past 100 years.

 

After the 3-3 tie among the Nordic rivals Sweden and Finland, the Way for gold was suddenly and surprisingely open for the host team and the United States did it winning 4-2 against Finland to celebrating the second country´s olympic gold. USSR defeated the Swedes in the last match to earn silver. Sweden thanks to the point carried out from the preliminary round from the match with the USA got the Bronze one single point in front of Finland finishing Once again fourth !

 

001131636.jpg

If the win over USSR is the most known, the last step which brought the gold to the host team was the win in the last game against Finland 4-2

 

Czechoslovakia extremely disappointed by the outcome of the tournament at least wrote to it´s history the highest Olympic triumph over Canada in the consolation game to earn the 5th place ahead of the North Americans by 6-1.

 

Czechoslovakia send a rejuvenated but very strong team led by the famous Slovak brothers Peter, Anton and Marián Šťastný, altogether with Milan Nový they dominated the scoring leaders tables, the top 3 scorers of the tournament were from TCH team, but even this was not enough for the team to win any medal.

The tournament started with a easy win 11-0 over Norway in the opening day of the Blue Division, but two days later on the Valentines Day came a shock and absolute nightmare, the totally unexpected lose to the local strongly underestimated amateur players of the United States team 3-7. After this failure the staff knew the only way for the medals will be by winning over Sweden, but before this the team had to win also the remaining preliminary games, the team managed it more or less easily beating 7-2 Romania and 11-3 over West Germany thanks a goal festival of the Šťastný brothers. But the last step remained unfinished Czechoslovakia lost to Sweden in a typical do-or-die tense and nervous match 2-4.

The result send the team only to the 3rd place, meaning only a 5th place match against Canada, similarly disappointed team from the other group. The team at least showed more will in the last match and finished a unsuccessful tournament by a high and not usual win over Canada 6-1.

 

 

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1980 Olympic Medalists,

Gold USA, Silver USSR, Bronze Sweden

 

 

Final Ranking:

1. United States :USA

2. USSR :WHT

3. Sweden :SWE

4. Finland

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

5. Czechoslovakia -  Consolation Round

6. Canada -  Consolation Round

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

7. Poland  -  Preliminary Round

8. Romania  -  Preliminary Round

9. Netherlands  -  Preliminary Round

10. West Germany  -  Preliminary Round

11. Norway  -  Preliminary Round

12. Japan  -  Preliminary Round

 

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In 2002 it was the members of the 1980 olympic winning team that had the honor to light the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics opening ceremony cauldron

 

 

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Ice Hockey Tournament at Sarajevo 1984

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USSR,

1984 Olympic Champions,

Team with legendary players such Makarov, Larionv, Krutov, Fetisov and led by one of the most successful Hockey coach of history Viktor Tikhonov finished the tournament unbeaten

 

 

 

The Men´s Ice Hockey Tournament at the Winter Olympic Games 1984 took place from 7th to 19th February 1984 in Sarajevo, former Yugoslavia, nowadays Capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The matches were played at the Skenderija Olympic Hall and at the Olympic Hall Zetra (Including the final matches).

 

USSR returning back after 8 years to the Olympic Hockey throne won it´s sixth Ice Hockey Gold medal and tied the historical record of the Canadians. Czechoslovakia also returning to the Olympic Hockey podium after 8 years as well took the silver medals and Sweden grab the Bronze medals just in front of Canada still failing to medal in Ice Hockey since 1960´s Squaw Valley silver !!!

 

12 Countries attended the tournament, After East Germany declining their quota, the last spot was contested in a qualification play-off match between Norway and the Netherlands, both games disputed in West Germany and Norway winning the Olympic ticket by 14-6 in Aggregate.

 

The format remained the same as the one used in Lake Placid four years ago. The 12 teams were divided into 2 Preliminary pools, The top 2 ranked nations from both Groups advanced to the Final-Four medal round-Robin (Carrying the results achieved between the qualified teams from the preliminary round). the 3rd ranked nations of both groups played a 5th place match, the 4th ranked countries a 7th Place game, The all remaining 4 nations were ranked by their standings in the preliminary pool.

 

Only two teams from the last previous Olympic tournaments final-four advanced to the medal round this time too, and both from the Preliminary Group A. USSR and Sweden, The Soviets entered the final round with a advantage of 2 points and score 10-1 from the win over the Swedes. The other 2 finalists from Lake Placid Finland and reigning champions USA failed to qualify for the medal round this time. Czechoslovakia and Canada took the qualifying places for the final four with the Czechoslovaks in better position with 2 points win 4-0 over Canada.

 

Already after the first matches of the final-four both preliminary round winners were assured to medal. USSR won against Canada 4-0 and Czechoslovakia defeated Sweden 2-0. So everything was clear before the final day of the Games. USSR and Czechoslovakia faced each other for Gold and Silver, Canada and Sweden played a bronze medal bout.

 

zdroj-ice-hockey-stat-com-sergej-makarov

USSR vs Czechoslovakia the very last scheduled match of the tournament was also the match for gold

 

Both Games finished 2-0 in favor of the Swedes (winning Bronze) and Soviets (winning their 6th Gold and 8th consecutive Olympic medal since 1952 and their debut under the five rings). Czechoslovakia had once again to handle with Silver, Still waiting for this "cursed" Gold, Canada finished again behind the podium, incredibly prolonging the no medal streak to 24 years now.

 

West Germany defeated Finland to finish in a very nice and valuable 5th place ahead of their opponents. A nice result achieved mainly thanks to one of the best German players of all times. Erich Kuhnhackl with 14 points was the top scorer of the tournament.

 

The biggest disappointment of the tournament was the reigning champion. United States finished only seventh, far behind the miracle they provided 4 years back at home, At least the won their last tournament´s match winning the 7th place battle against Poland.

 

Italy, Austria, the host Yugoslavia and Norway finished the tournament already in the preliminary groups and were ranked in this order from 9th to 12th place.

 

Czechoslovakia after the failure in lake Placid and the "Emigration case" of the Šťastný brothers to Canada, decided to rebuild completely the team for the Sarajevo Games. and the coach Luděk Bukáč introduced to the world one of the best Czechoslovakian Ice Hockey squad of history around players as Lála, Vladimír Ružička, Hrdina, Pašek or the redoubted "Slovak line" Igor Liba, Dárius Rusnák, Vincent Lukáč.

 

In the preliminary round the team entered the tournament by a win 10-4 over Norway, followed by a "vendetta" win against the title holders from the United States 4-1. Especially this win brought to the team the biggest boost and so needed self-confidence. In the next match the team showed another higher level of play in the easy and spectacular win over Austria 13-0. Everything was ready for the last 2 games against Finland and Canada. And the team held the pressure in a fantastic way scoring two another easy wins 7-2 over the "Suomis" and especially the 4-0 triumph against Canada, which was even more important because thanks this result the team needed only one more win in the final four to assure the medal.

 

And they did it. Winning Sweden 2-0 thanks two goals in the last 15 minutes. The medal was assured and only one match remained. the  fight for gold against USSR. Both unbeaten teams met in the very last game of the Olympics and Once agains as many many times before Czechoslovakia failed in this final step losing 0-2 to their eternal rivals. led by one of the best Ice Hockey lines of the history of this sport --- Makarov, Larionov, Krutov

 

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Game Over. The Soviets just scored and assured the sixth Olympic title of their history.

 

USSR won the tournament by winning all matches.

 

 

Final Ranking:

1. USSR :WHT

2. Czechoslovakia :CZE

3. Sweden :SWE

4. Canada

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

5. West Germany -  Consolation Round

6. Finland -  Consolation Round

7. United States - Consolation Round

8. Poland - Consolation Round

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

9. Italy  -  Preliminary Round

10. Austria  -  Preliminary Round

11. Yugoslavia  -  Preliminary Round

12. Norway  -  Preliminary Round

 

 

Last 2 and half minutes of the final match USSR - Czechoslovakia

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Ice Hockey Tournament at Calgary 1988

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USSR,

1988 Olympic Champions,

One year before the fall of communism, the Soviet team won their 7th Historic Olympic title, becoming at that time the most successful Olympic Ice Hockey nation, surpassing the host country Canada with 6 titles back then

 

 

 

The Men´s Ice Hockey Tournament at the Winter Olympic Games 1988, took place from the 13th to the 28th February 1988 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The games were played in the Olympic Saddledome (Including the decisive matches) but also at the Stampede Corral and at the Father David Bauer Olympic Arena. It was the first Olympic tournament held in the birth place of this sport, Untill now it´s also the only one tournament in North America not won by any of USA or Canada.

 

USSR retained their Olympic gold from Sarajevo 1984, this time they won their 7th Historic title, Overpassing Canada at this time in the historical medal tally. The biggest surprise of the tournament was Finland, After so many bad luck and disappointing 4th places, the "Suomis" finally won their first ever ice hockey Olympic medal - Silver, just ahead of their eternal rivals from Sweden retaining bronze from 1984. Canada prolonged the disastrous no-medal streak to another 4 years finishing 4th. The biggest failure was however the Czechoslovakian team which absolutely flopped in Calgary finishing far from the expected positions on 6th place even behind the West German team.

 

12 Countries attended the tournament, the 11 top ranked nations from the 1987 Word Championships were qualified directly, Japan and France played in West Germany a intercontinental play-off for the last spot. The French team won this quota beating the Japanese 8-6 in Aggregate.

 

The playing format slightly changed but was in general quite similar as for the last previous tournaments. the 12 teams were divided into 2 preliminary pools, but now it was the top 3 from both groups who earned their qualifications for the medal round (Final-Six) played in a traditional round-Robin (Every team played once each opponent - but only from the opposite group, since the results from the previous matches with teams from their own groups were carried and counted in the final round). Teams ranked 4th from both groups played a match for 7th place, Teams ranked 5th faced each other in a 9th place game and last teams from both pools played the 11th place game.

 

The all 3 favorites advanced as expected from the Group A, surprisingly it was Finland who topped the group and went to the final round with the best position of 3 carried points from the historical win 3-1 over the host Canada and the 3-3 tie with Sweden. The Finns started the tournament very bad losing their opening game to Switzerland, but since then Finland became unbeatable in the remaining games of the pool A. Sweden with 2 points from the ties with Finland and 2- 2 against Canada advanced from second position, the trio was completed by the host, Canada acceding to the final six with only 1 single point was even a bit worrying for the local fans.

To notice is also the small doping violation episode from this group, Poland won easily over France but because one of their player was found guilty for doping violation the match was recorded to the French but without winning points.

 

Also from Group B the main favorites qualified for the medal round, only West Germany surprised finishing second behind the unbeaten USSR and in front of Czechoslovakia. Mainly because the upset caused in the opening day by the win 2-1 over the Czechoslovaks, West Germany entered the final round with 2 points, Czechoslovakia losing also to USSR had huge and unexpected troubles to even qualify but winning against USA they at least avoided the absolute failure, meanwhile entering the medal round pointless wasn´t exactly the best position.

 

After USSR defeating Canada 5-0 and Sweden 7-1 was already the gold medalist one day before the end of the medal round. In the last day there was still a huge fight for the remaining medals Finland, Sweden and Canada were all in the battle.

After Canada won against Czechoslovakia 6-3 the host team jumped on the medal, but only until the very last match of the championship and the biggest upset of the tournament.

Finland shocked the hockey planet beating USSR 2-1. This was the only lose of points in the whole tourney the Soviets suffered in Calgary. The win meant a Great and historic moment for the Finland´s Ice Hockey, finishing second and winning the Silver medals. Sweden also secured the medal beating pleasantly surprising team of West Germany 3-2 in this last day.

 

1764117.jpg

Finland was the biggest surprise of the tournament winning finally their first medal, Silver

 

For the first time in history a Olympic Ice hockey match ended by shoot-out, in the 11th place Match the result was still not decided between France and Norway even after the Overtime, so the famous ice hockey "penalties sessions" had to be used for the fist time, ending in France´s favor 7-6.

 

Czechoslovakia, reigning silver medalist had to experience a very painful tournament. Already the start was just disastrous, The shocking news of a lose to the West German team 1-2 came from Calgary after the opening day immediately destroying the usual  high expectations atmosphere among the fans and the public about this team composed almost entirely by the 1985 World Champions. In the second match the team had to fight really hard again to beat the United States 7-5 to at least renew the chances of the qualification for the medal round. 8 minute to go it was still 4-5 for the US and the situation of the Czechoslovak team looked really bad, but 3 goals in the last minutes turned the outcome of the match and returned a bit of new hopes and faith among the team.

After next two expected easy wins 10-1 over Norway and 4-0 against Austria the qualification was confirmed. The problem was the points carried for the Final-Six. If the teams wanted to not enter the medal games pointless they had to grab something in the last game with the dominant team of USSR. Unfortunately there were no chances at all and the Soviets destroyed the Czechoslovak team 6-1 - Again thanks this diabolic line Makarov-Larionov-Krutov...

Thanks this situation, In The final round, there was only one way for medal, winning all 3 games. But already the first lose with Sweden 2-6 completed the disappointing failure in this tournament, the medal hopes were gone.. However even highly disappointed, the team showed some Olympic spirit and fight winning the next match against Finland 5-2 ! becoming the only team that defeated Finland in the Final-Six.

In the final match Czechoslovakia lost to the host country 3-6. Canada was still playing for the so wanted and needed medal and showed it by totally dominating this match.

6th place even behind West Germany was considered as a huge failure and fiasco in the country, starting few tense and hard months in local Ice hockey circles and political places...one year later the Communism failed opening new doors and ways in Czech and Slovak Hockey

 

 

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1988 Olympic Medalists

from left Finland, USSR and Sweden

 

 

Final Ranking:

1. USSR :WHT

2. Finland :FIN

3. Sweden :SWE

4. Canada

5. West Germany

6. Czechoslovakia

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

7. United States

8. Switzerland

9. Austria

10. Poland 

11. France 

12. Norway 

 

 

One of the biggest surprises and upsets of Olympic Ice Hockey history, the last day win of Finland over USSR 2-1 resulting in first Finlands Olympic Ice hockey medal

 

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Ice Hockey Tournament at Albertville 1992

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1992 Olympic Champions,

Few weeks after the collapse of the Soviet Union a Unified team representing 6 newly formed countries from the former Soviet bloc won the gold in it´s only Olympic appearance.

Who would have ever guessed at that time, that this is still the last Olympic gold in Ice Hockey for any country from the former USSR

 

 

 

The Men´s Ice Hockey Tournament at the Winter Olympic Games 1992 took place from 8th to 23rd February 1992 in Albertville, France. All matches were played at the Méribel Arena in Méribel, a city 40 km from the center of the games Albertville in the french Savoy Region.

 

The tournament was played for the first time in a new format. The direct elimination play-offs after the preliminary round phase introduced it´s hockey debut under the five rings.

 

Few weeks after the collapse of the Soviet Union, 6 newly formed countries from the former USSR participated to the games under the Olympic Flag and was named "Unified Team". Their Ice Hockey team won the gold as the successor of the Soviet Ice hockey domination of the pas Olympics, it wasn´t considered as a surprise at all. But who would have guessed at that time that it will be the last Ice Hockey Olympic gold for a team from the former Soviet bloc.

 

Canada won silver, winning finally so needed medal for the birth country of this sport, Silver which stopped an unprecedented no-medal Olympic streak of long 24 years.

 

Another curious participation was the team of Czechoslovakia, living it´s last ever year as one country, The players meanwhile were able to win the bronze medal 10 months before the split up of the country in two new formed independent nations Czech Republic and Slovakia.

 

12 Countries attended the tournament. The top 11 from the IIHF 1991 Ranking + 1 team from the Qualification. Poland won the last quota beating Denmark in the qualifiers 15-9 in aggregate.

 

The participating teams were divided into 2 six teams composed preliminary pools A and B. The top 4 from each pool advanced to the first ever Olympic Ice Hockey knock-out phase (Quarter finals played in traditional cross-over format - Winner of Group A vs 4th of Group B, 2nd of Group A vs 3rd of Group B etc..., then semifinals and medal matches) the last two ranked nations from both pools played the 9th-12th placement games, the losing quarterfinalists played the 5th-8th placement games.

 

The preliminary Group A ended without particular surprises, all 4 favorites advanced to the play-offs. Mabe the biggest surprise was USA which topped the group with 9 points, losing only 1 point after a draw 3-3 with Sweden ranked second with 8 points, The reigning silver medalists Finland finished 3rd with 7 points and last qualified from this group was the newly unified Germany with 4 points thanks 2 important wins over 5th Italy (2 points) and last Poland (0 points).

 

Clearly much more tense was the group B with the big trio (all later medalists) Canada, Unified Team and Czechoslovakia, their respective matches were absolute highlights of the whole Olympic games in 1992. Czechoslovakia beating first the Unified team 4-3 in one of the best ever Ice Hockey matches, but losing easily to Canada 1-5, and in the last game the former Soviets defeated Canada in another extraordinary hockey match 5-4. All 3 teams finished the preliminary phase with 8 points, so a mini-table was necessary to rank them, Canada finished with the best tie-break and topped the Group meaning they had to face Germany in the Quarterfinals, The Unified Team was ranked 2nd and faced Finland in the play-offs, Czechoslovakia entered the play-off from 3rd place and get the always redoubtable Sweden in their quarterfinal. The last qualified was for the absolute enjoyment of the local fans the host country, France reached the biggest success of it´s Ice Hockey with this qualification to the quarterfinal against USA thanks 4 points earned in the group. 5th Switzerland with 2 points and last Norway pointless had to play the placement games.

 

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One of the biggest and most pleasant surprises of the Tournament was the Host country team. France reached the quarterfinals and amazed the local fans with their great play.

Picture from the match with Czechoslovakia.

 

Canada was very near to the total flop in the quarterfinal against underestimated Germany, the match finished 3-3 and had to continue in a first ever play-offs shootout series, Canada was the luckiest team in this exercise and avoided the humiliating elimination. Germany however finished the tournament in a very valuable 6th place.

In the other quarterfinals the Unified Team defeated Finland 6-1, Czechoslovakia in another iconic and tense match won over Sweden 3-1. In the last quarterfinal The French Fairytale ended losing to the United States 1-4.

 

The Unified Team advanced to the final winning it´s semifinal against USA 5-2 and their opponent became Canada beating Czechoslovakia 4-2 in the second semifinal.

 

The last ever Czechoslovakian match in the Olympic history finished by a clear and easy win 6-1 over the United States in the Bronze medal match.

 

sport-1992-winter-olympic-games-albertvi

The 22nd February 1992 entered to the history, this day Czechoslovakia won in the Bronze medal match over the United States 6-1

and won in the last ever Czechoslovak Olympic Ice Hockey match the last ever Czechoslovak winter Olympic medal.

 

 

The last event of the games was the Ice Hockey final match between the Unified Team and Canada, in front of a full packed arena in Méribel both teams played another memorable and fantastic ice hockey game, All goals were scored in the last frame, The biggest star of the match was mainly Vyacheslav "Slava" Bykov the later longtime successful Russian Ice Hockey National team coach. who even scored the last goal of the match 2 minuets before the end closing the final score to 3-1.

 

Sweden topped the so-called consolation round to earn 5th place ahead of Germany, Finland and the host country of France. Norway finished 9th, Switzerland 10th, Poland 11th and Italy 12th.

 

10 months before the dissolution of the Republic, Czechoslovakia send to Albertville a team of players already knowing this will be their last ever Olympic tournament as one country. But still the players managed to join their forces and made a strong and unified team.

At same time as in Albertville were held the opening ceremony of the games and their team mates from other sports marched in the parade of nations, the Ice hockey players hadt to play their opening game of the Group B in Méribel. It was a one sided game with a easy win 10-1 over Norway. Already after 2 periods the score was 9-1.

2 Days later the team played in front of a full stadium against a highly motivated home team. And it was an absolutely different match this time, the team had to work really hard all 60 minutes to beat France 6-4, The french even lead 0-2 after first period.

In the next game, the team faced their eternal rivals but now under a new name and Olympic flag, the successor of the former USSR the Unified Team and it was a real epic match. The last ever game between both teams finished by a great win of Czechoslovakia 4-3, it was especially the match of the second line Lang, Rosol, Kašťák. Robert Lang scoring two goals adding one assist, Petr Rosol with 1+1.

After this success cam the fail. Horrible performance in the match against Canada, losing easily 1-5.

In the last game they won 4-2 over Switzerland. but after the Unified Team beat Canada 5-4, Czechoslovakia was ranked 3rd in the group and had to face the Swedes.

The quarterfinal presented another Ice Hockey highlight, a incredible tense and opened match full of great skills and action finished by the Czechoslovak triumph 3-1 thanks two last goals of Otakar Augusta and Patrik Augusta.

In the semifinal Czechoslovakia and Canada faced each other once again but once again with the same winner, Canada qualified for the final after another perfect performance 4-2.

The 22nd February 1992 entered to the history, this day Czechoslovakia played it´s last ever Olympic Ice Hockey match, the Bronze medal game against USA, And the players from both parts of the country played this memorable game with a clear and visible combativity and desire. Czechoslovakia won easily 6-1 and won the last ever Czechoslovak winter Olympic medal.

 

 

 

 

Final Ranking:

1. Unified Team :WHT

2. Canada :CAN

3. Czechoslovakia :CZE

4. United States

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

5. Sweden

6. Germany

7. Finland

8. France

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

9. Norway

10. Switzerland

11. Poland 

12. Italy 

 

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Players from the Unified Team celebrate their Gold Medal match triumph 3-1 over Canada

 

 

Video of the Epic Quarterfinals Shootout series between Canada and Germany

Spoiler

 

 

Last 2 minutes of the final Unified Team - Canada with the "Slava" Bykov goal

Spoiler

 

 

Highlights from the last ever Czechoslovakian Olympic team matches in Albertville (Czech TV)

Spoiler

 

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Ice Hockey Tournament at Lillehammer 1994

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Sweden, 1994 Olympic Champions

In the first ever finals shootout won its first ever Olympic gold

 

 

 

The Men´s Ice Hockey Tournament at the Winter Olympic Games 1994 took place from 12th to 27th February 1994 in Lillehammer, Norway. The matches were held at Lillehammer´s Hakon Hall and at Fjelhallen in Gjovik.

 

12 Nations participated in this tournament. Sweden won its first ever Ice Hockey Olympic Gold medal, becoming the sixth nation to reach the Olympic Ice Hockey glory. Canada retained the silver medals from Albertville 1992 and Finland won the Bronze medals.

 

The top 11 nations from the 1993 IIHF world championships qualified directly to the tournament. To determine the last 12th spot there was a International Qualification tournament played in Sheffield, GBR. Originally there were 4 nations supposed to take part in this qualification, Poland, Latvia, Japan and the host Great Britain. But few weeks before the start the International Ice Hockey federation added to this tournament also Slovakia. Since 1st January 1993 Czechoslovakia was dismissed and 2 new countries gained their respective independences, The Czech Republic and Slovakia. This became also a great problem in the IIHF program, since Czech Republic got the honors to become the successors country of Czechoslovakia in Ice Hockey structures, they were immediately put in the world championships top divisions programs and so also directly qualified for the Olympic tournament, but Slovakia had less reasons to enjoy, The country was send only to the lowest Ice Hockey world Championship division and so they also lost any chances to fight for the Olympics. This absolute injustice raised an unprecedented lobbying and represives not only in the country and in the IIHF but also in the UN, were the Slovaks were also lobbyin with their delegation led by the President of the country and many worldwidely well known hockey players. One month before the qualification the pressure reached the result, IIHF and IOC agreed to allow Slovakia to start in the Olympic qualification tournament, but the placement in the lowest World Championships program unfortunately remained as it was. Meanwhile the country succeeded to qualify for the top division in the shortest possible time. but this is another topic...

 

However The invited team won this Qualification tournament, proving that they belonged there, and Slovakia triumphed in its very first ever international event.

 

The 12 nations were divided into 2 preliminary groups A and B, the top 4 from both pools advanced to the quarterfinals, played in a cross-over system. The remaining nations played the Consolation round to determine 9th-12th places.

 

Finland played in Lillehammer in a great form and the team that won next year the first ever world championship title, dominated the group in a great way, winning all 5 games and qualifying to the knockout round from 1st place with the max amount of 10 points. Germany, Czech Republic and Russia (Successor of the former USSR in Ice Hockey program) accompanied them all earned 6 points, a mini-table tie break formula from their respective matches had to decide the ranking. The surprising victory of Germany over Russia 4-2 was the main point that Germany qualified from second place.

 

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Finland experienced a great tournament, losing only 1 match in the semifinals, but managed to recover and grab the bronze beating Russia 4-0 in the 3rd place match

 

The Group B saw another incredible fairytale and the Slovak hockey uprising continued, the underestimated and undesired team shocked the whole hockey planet finishing unbeaten and winning the Group B. Especially the win 3-1 over Canada was considered as a huge achievement and the world finally started to take us seriously. Canada advanced from second place, Sweden from 3rd and the United States from 4th. Italy and France failed down to the consolation round.

 

In the Quarterfinals, Finland over USA and Sweden over Germany won easily, but the next two matches were real jewels of the Olympic history. Canada beat Czech Republic in a great match 3-2 and Russia ended the fairy tale of Slovakia in another epic match 4-3 after Over Time in the very last 10th minute of the added time by the unforgettable goal of Vinogradov.

 

Despite the huge disappointement in the team, Slovakia as a total newby left a great impression and became the favorit team of local fans, 3 of Slovakia players topped even the tournaments final scoring ranking. Žigmund Pálffy with 3+7 won the overal scoring table and Miroslav Šatan was the best goal scorer of the tourney, the young 19 year old prospect scored 9 goals, including two hattricks to Italy and France. The legendary Peter Šťastný who ended his career in tha national team of his native country, was the captain of the team (Flag bearer of Slovakia at the Opening Ceremony) and 3rd overall scorer of the tournament with a 5+4 record.

 

The still unbeaten Finland entered the semifinal against Canada as one of the real contenders for gold, their play and performances during the tournament were highly valuated, but even this was not enough for the Suomis to beat Canada, The Maple Leafs won 5-3 t reach again the Olympic final and secure second medal in a row. In the other semifinal Sweden defeated Russia 4-3 and qualified for the gold medal match.

 

Finland at least finished their fantastic tournament by the deserved medal, winning bronze after a clear 4-0 win over Russia.

 

2 Minutes before the end of the final, Canada was leading 2-1 and close to the so long time expected gold, but Sweden in the penultimate minute managed to tie the game and send the final to the over time. That finished scoreless. So for the first time in the Olympics, we needed the shootout lottery to determine the Olympic champions. and it was necessary to have 7 series to know the outcome, when Peter Forsberg beat Corey Hirsch by a memorable goal and than Paul Kariya seen his attempt stopped by Tommy Salo, Sweden became for the first time ever Olympic Ice Hockey champions.

 

forsberg7.jpg

The Historic goal of Peter Forsberg in the 7th Shootout serie against Corey Hirsch that brought the Olympic triumph to the "Tre Kronor"

 

 

Slovakia enterd its first ever Olympic tournament with a team composed mainly of players from its own national championship, but what a players it was. Led by Peter Šťastný and Žigmund Pálffy, the team introduced to the world another future great stars like Šatan or Haščák, Petrovický, Švehla and others.

The historic day came the 13th February 1994 and the first ever match at the Olympics, and the debut was against nothing else then Sweden, the future champions, Slovakia managed to won its first ever point at world level, reaching a draw 4-4. Another tie came two days later a 3-3 with USA. The first win came against Italy, 10-4. And then came the big day and the perfect match against Canada, we won 3-1 and already reached the quarterfinals, in the last match the team defeated France 6-2 and even shockingly topped the group.

But in the quarterfinal came the disappointment. The loss with Russia in a epic game 3-4 in the Overtimes last minute.

In the next game the team defeated Germany 6-5 after OT in the 5-8th semifinals to reach the 5th place game which ended in the worst performance in the whole tournament and a high loss to the former federal partner from Czech Republic 1-7.

Anyway, the 6th final place was a incredible result and an absolutely superb debut for a country that had to play 1 month later the lowest World Championship division program...but once again that´s another topic.

 

 

106446-peter-stastny-zigmund-palffy-clan

The best surprise of the tournament were definitely the performances of Slovakia,

Peter Šťastný and Žigmund Pálffy in Lillehammer led a Team from World Championships "C" pool,

that started its hockey "uprising" against this injustice,

 

 

Final Ranking:

1. Sweden  :SWE

2. Canada  :CAN

3. Finland  :FIN

4. Russia

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

5. Czech Republic

6. Slovakia

7. Germany

8. United States

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

9. Italy

10. France

11. Norway 

12. Austria

 

Final shootouts of the Final Sweden - Canada

Spoiler

 

 

Some highlights from Lillehammer tournament (Czech TV recap)

Spoiler

 

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Ice Hockey Tournaments at Nagano 1998

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Czech Republic,

won the so-called "Tournament of Century" to became the

1998 Olympic Champions, winning its first ever Gold

 

 

From 7th to 22nd February 1998, Nagano in Japan hosted the Winter Olympic Games, and for the first time there were 2 sets of medals awarded, because altogether with the Men´s Ice Hockey tournament also the women´s ice hockey experienced its Olympic debut right during these games. The very first women´s Olympic champions became the United States, they finished undefeated throughout the whole tournament and defeated the tournament favorite Canada in the final match 3-1. The men´s title went for the first time to the Czech Republic, winning the so-called "tournament of Century" a name received because this tournament also entered to the history with the first ever participation of the NHL players.

 

All matches were played at the Big Hat and at the Aqua Wing Arena in Nagano, Japan.

 

Czech Republic won it´s first ever Gold medal, becomming the seventh country to win the Olympic Ice Hockey grail.

 

This tournament was also the first ever to be contested by NHL (National Hockey League) players. The NHL allowed their players to enter the Olympics, thanks a organized 17 days break in the most famous Ice Hockey league, but not all teams had the same privilege. In fact NHL allowed its players to play only from the second round, This totally unfair decision hardly hampered the campaigns of Germany and Slovakia, both of whom failed to qualify for the final group stage. Also the final group stage was criticized as being meaningless since all of the teams qualified for the quarter-finals. The format was eventually changed for the 2006 tournament in an effort to address these criticisms.

 

The format of the mens tournament was really strange. 14 teams entered the competition, but only the top 6 were directly seeded in the main tournament second phase, the remaining 8 teams had to play a sort of qualification first phase. These 8 countries not allowed to field NHLers were divided into 2 preliminary groups A and B and only the Group winners advanced to the main phase.

 

Kazakhstan and Belarus surprisingly topped the groups ahead of Slovakia and Germany in their respective pools and reached the main tournament.

 

In the second round the NHL players finally entered the Olympics to the enjoyment of all Ice Hockey fans. Russia topped the Group 1 ahead f the Czech Republic, Finland and the qualifier Kazakhstan who finished pointless with the overall score 6-25 from the three encounters against the "NHLers" 2-9 with Russia, and 2-8 with the Czechs and Finns. Russia beating the Czechs 2-1 in the last match for the groups 1st place. Russia was satisfied with its result meaning in the quarter final they had to play the easiest opponent from the other group - Belarus. 

The Belarussians as expected finished last in this group, but after the group phase the organizers found that the Swede Ulf Samuelsson who played all 3 matches was not eligible to play since he already got the American citizenship and the rules didn´t allowed him to play for his former country. Immediately all Sweden´s result were annuled meaning Sweden was send to the last 4th place. This ofc wasn´t appreciated by the Russians as they had to face Sweden in the play-offs despite winning their group, Russia made an appeal and their protest was approved, the Swedens results were returned only Samuelsson was sent home from the Olympics. Sweden was reinstated to the 2nd place behind Canada, group winner and in front of USA 3rd and pointless qualifier Belarus.

 

Both Canada and the United States were heavily favoured; they had previously faced off in the final of the prestigious 1996 World Cup of Hockey. but both quite surprisingly failed in the play-offs to the underestimated Czechs, USA lost in quarterfinal 1-4 and The Canadian team, despite a strong start in the round robin, lost in the semifinal match 1-2 after penalty shoot-outs, Russia after eliminating Belarus 4-1, won in the semifinal over Finland in another great match of Hockey 7-4 to reach the final against the Czechs. Disappointed Canadians with such super stars around Gretzky, Yzerman, Lindros or Shannahan eventually lost also the Bronze medal game to Finland 3-4.

 

0921hockey01-v6.jpg

Canada was the absolute favorite for the gold in The first ever Olympic tournament with NHL players, but the team around the legendary Wayne Gretzky finished 4th

 

In the final match, the Czech Republic led by a fantastic goalie Dominik Hašek and legendary players like Jaromír Jágr shut-out Russia to win the first gold medal in its history.

 

Slovakia arrived to Nagano with different feelings, The NHL did not allowed them to play with their best NHL players in the first round, so the coach staff had a difficult times in selecting the final roster, with only local players entered the 1st round with the only goal qualify for the next phase, it started with a quite unexpected tie with Austria 2-2 in the opening game, but returned in the business by winning (even not as easily as it was expected) against Italy 4-3, the last match remaining against Kazakhstan no one have even expected any fail, peoples was already thinking which players will be replaced by the NHL players in the next round...but all these speculations were closed too early, Slovakia shockingly lost to Kazakhstan 3-4 and surprisingly failed to qualify to the main round, the poor NHL guys which travelled to Nagano could returned back to the airports and fly back to America, their Olympic campaign ended already before the start. Only Peter Bondra decided to stay and was allowed to play in the 9th place game against similarly disappointed Germany, we lost 2-4 and finished 10th.

 

1558875-img-hokej-nagano-cesko-kanada-v0

One of the best Goalie of the Ice Hockey history Dominik Hašek led the Czechs to the title marking a giant shutout in the final against Russia

 

 

Final Ranking of the Men´s Tournament:

1. Czech Republic  :CZE

2. Russia  :RUS

3. Finland  :FIN

4. Canada

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

5. Sweden  -  Main Tournament

6. United States -  Main Tournament

7. Belarus  -  Main Tournament

8. Kazakhstan -  Main Tournament

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

9. Germany - First Phase

10. Slovakia - First Phase

11. France - First Phase

12. Italy - First Phase

13. Japan - First Phase

14. Austria - First Phase

 

 

1998-US-Team1.jpg

The undefeated United States

first ever Women´s Ice Hockey Olympic champions

surprised Canada in the final to win 3-1.

 

 

The 1998 Olympic women's ice hockey tournament was the first year that featured women in ice hockey competition. 

 

6 Nations attended the tournament, they played a simple Round-Robin, the top 2 teams advanced for the Gold Medal match and 3rd and 4th ranked teams played for Bronze.

 

It was greatly anticipated that the women's gold medal match would feature Canada versus the United States. Canada was favored to come out on top as they had won all the competitions in previous years in women's hockey, with the United States perpetually finishing second, while no other national teams could match their level of play. However, the United States beat Canada in the final and became the first country to win gold in women's ice hockey at the Olympics. Like among the men´s, Finland took the bronze in the womens tourney as well beating in the 3rd place match China 4-1.

 

There were no qualification tournaments, the host Japan played alongside the top five nations at the previous season's world championships.

 

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If the men´s Canadian team had Wayne Gretzky, also the women´s team had in this tournament a absolute legend of this sport, the young Hayley Wickenheiser started her great Olympic career

 

Final Ranking of the Women´s Tournament:

1. United States  :USA 

2. Canada  :CAN 

3. Finland  :FIN

4. China

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

5. Sweden

6. Japan

 

 

The Czech road to gold

Spoiler

 

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