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Heavy Medal

Friday, February 19, 2010; D06

Catching up with Capitals' Tomas Fleischmann

For Capitals fans, Olympic hockey is not all Russians, of course. Two other Washingtonians are playing at the Games as well, and both had their first taste of the sport's premier stage Wednesday.

I caught up with Tomas Fleischmann after his Czechs defeated arch-rival Slovakia in a beautiful, open game that had lots of scoring chances and a brilliant performance by a certain former Capital, whose first and last names both start with a J.

"I am having a lot of fun, especially after the win." Fleischmann said. "I am just happy to be on a team with such great players. You could see tonight, how Jagr was a difference between winning and losing. He scored the game-winning goal and had an assist on the third one. You watch guys like this every day and try to be like them."

Sunday will be a bit of a reunion for you, with the upcoming Russia game. What are your thoughts?

"It's going to be very exciting playing against Ovie and Sasha, and the other guys, [former Caps] Kozzie and Feds [Viktor Kozlov and Sergei Fedorov]. But I am not scared of Russians. Never!"

What about of Ovie?

"Ovie is crazy, but I am crazier than him."

You are?

"Um, no, not really. But I have to be."

He did say he would kill Backstrom if he has a chance. I am sure this threat would be applicable to you as well.

"Yeah, I remember him saying that. Hey, that's Ovie, it sounds like something he would say. But it's all great fun anyway."

-- Slava Malamud

Laurel's Cho off to smooth start

Laurel's Simon Cho helped the U.S. men's 5,000-meter relay team get through Wednesday's semifinal in short-track speedskating, earning a place in the Feb. 26 final.

Cho competed second, skating after J.R. Celski, with Travis Jayner and Apolo Anton Ohno bringing the U.S. team home. The Americans finished second in 6 minutes 46.369 seconds, just behind the powerful South Korean team (6:43.845).

The U.S. men won the bronze in the event in 2006, and claimed the silver in 1994. Cho, who also competes in the individual 500 here, does not know whether he will be selected to compete in the event's final. Jordan Malone is also available for the race.

"It's such a well-rounded team, so it depends on the coach," Cho said. "He will decide on the night of the relay."

-- Amy Shipley

No love between Sweden, Norway

Eighty-two countries are competing in Vancouver, B.C., but in Scandinavia, you might think the main competition involves just two: Sweden and Norway.

The Scandinavian rivalry is intense during the Winter Games, especially in cross-country events where both nations have world-class skiers. The Norwegians, particularly, are obsessed with trumping their Swedish neighbors.

After Sweden won its second gold medal at the Vancouver Olympics, Norwegian daily Dagbladet ran the cover of its Olympics insert in blue and yellow -- the colors of the Swedish flag -- with the plaintive headline "can't we get a gold too?" Now they've won three.

When Marit Bjoergen finally won a gold for Norway, in the women's cross-country sprint Wednesday, Norwegians were equally thrilled by Swedish favorite Emil Jonsson's failure to reach the men's sprint final.

"The most important thing today was not to win Olympic gold, but to beat Emil Jonsson," Norway's Petter Northug told Norwegian TV2. Northug -- Norway's biggest medal hope in Vancouver -- had to settle for bronze in the final after being outpaced by two Russians.

On Sweden's part, the rivalry is intensifying as its own star power fades, said columnist Lasse Anrell, who writes for Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet.

That won't be helped by Norway's three gold medals in two days.

"We are worthless at everything these days: cars, mobile phones. But in skiing we're the best again," Anrell said.

-- Associated Press

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