Czechs still coming to terms with early exit from World Ice Hockey Championships

Slovakia - Switzerland, photo: CTK

The Czechs are still coming to terms with the fact that their team was knocked out in the quarter-finals of the World Ice Hockey Championships in Prague on Wednesday night, and 'what went wrong' is an issue taken up on many of Friday's front pages.

Slovakia - Switzerland,  photo: CTK
In its lead story Pravo describes the deathly silence in the Czech dressing room after the team's defeat by the USA. Having failed to bring joy to millions by winning in front of a home crowd, Czech stars such as Jagr, Straka and Vokoun - and coach Slavomir Lener - spent Wednesday night drowning their sorrows at various bars around Prague.

While the nation's dream of World Championships glory was still alive, Czech interest in ice hockey was at an all-time high, with record viewing figures for live broadcasts of games involving the host nation.

Another record was the amount Czechs spent betting on their team to win, leaving bookies with a healthy profit, to say the least. One betting agency executive said after Wednesday's defeat that he'd felt "like the grim reaper coming for his best friend".

However, the elimination of their heroes in the quarter-finals doesn't necessarily mean Czech hockey fans have nobody to cheer for: Slovakia on Thursday night advanced to the semi-finals with a 3:1 win over Switzerland, with many Czechs cheering them on, both at Prague's Sazka Arena and in front of their TV screens. The situation is similar to two years ago, when many Czechs cheered with joy when their former federal brothers became World Champions for the first time ever.