The Nagano Tapes: Every Underdog has its Day / by VOCAL

Olympic Channel’s Five Rings Films Debuts The Nagano Tapes, the Inspiring True Story of the Czech Republic’s Shocking Victory in Men’s Ice Hockey at the 1998 Nagano Games


Even without an interest in sports, The Nagano Tapes documentary tells a rousing and riveting story that’s difficult to pause, and one that leaves the viewer imbued with the pride and hope the Czech Republic felt with their ice hockey victory at the 1998 Winter Olympics. For ice hockey fans, this is 110 minutes of intimate player commentary, never-before-seen footage and action-packed replays spotlighting one of the sports most iconic tournaments in its long history.


A decade after the fall of the Iron Curtain, the flame of national purpose and identity had begun to burn as low as the world’s expectations of their performance against the all-star teams that the Eastern Bloc had relinquished to North America — only a handful of which were recruited to represent the Czech Republic on the ice in Nagano, Japan. Yet against all foreseeable odds, the Czech ice hockey team faced the superpowers and super teams of the world to bring home a gold medal in the sport that had for almost half a century kept the nation in positive hope of self-determination.


Created by The Olympic Channel in partnership with award-winning producer Frank Marshall (Indiana Jones, Bourne Identity), The Nagano Tapes comes to life with exclusive interviews with some of the world’s best ice hockey players who relive their experience in precise detail including the Czech Republic’s Hašek, Jágr and Petr Svoboda, Canada’s Theo Fleury, Eric Lindros and Marc Crawford (Coach), the USA’s Brett Hull and the Russian Federation’s Alexei Yashin.


Directed by Sundance award winner Ondřej Hudeček from the Czech Republic, The Nagano Tapes also features never-before-seen IMAX footage and exclusive International Olympic Committee (IOC) archive material. The Nagano Tapes moniker is a nod to the popular video tapes and VCR’s of the time, while the documentary also uses throwback music and video from the decade keeping with the 90’s theme.


The Nagano Tapes is the first film in the Olympic Channel’s signature documentary series, Five Rings Films — a five-episode series of incisive and entertaining documentaries directed by some of the biggest names in film from around the world.


Currently available SVOD online at in the US with a TV subscription to Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA, the film will be available online on-demand [for free] without a subscription in the US starting March 31.

nagano tapes

Highlights from the 1998 Winter Olympics ice hokey tournament:

• Canada easily won its three of its lead-up games, scoring 12 goals. Sweden followed with 2 wins and 1 loss, and the United States finished with a disappointing record of just 1 win and 2 losses. Meanwhile, Russia won each of its 3 games in its grouping, with the Czech Republic winning 2 and Finland only 1. The United States and Canada were once again the favorites for the gold-medal contention, with Sweden expected to take home at least the bronze.

• In the quarter-finals, Canada defeated Kazakhstan and the Czech Republic the United States — both by the same 4-1 results. And Finland edged Sweden 2-1 while Russia beat Belarus 4-1. 

• The semi-finals saw Russia eliminate Finland with a 7-4 win. Canada faced the Czech Republic in an exhilarating game that saw two intense periods, after which Jiri Slegr gave the Czechs a 1-0 lead. However, Canada came back to tie the game with 63 seconds remaining when Trevor Linden scored to force a ten-minute overtime. Dominik Hasek for the Czechs and Patrick Roy for Canada were exceptional in defending the net, and needed to be as they moved into a shoot-out with the Czech Republic skating away with the win. 

• The following day, the Czech Republic and Russia were showcased in the Olympic gold medal contest at Nagano's Big Hat Arena. Dominik Hasek was again the hero in defending goal attempts, but it was Petr Svoboda who solidified the gold medal with his slap from near the blue line midway through the third period to score the game’s only goal.