World junior has all the trimmings

CRASH CAMERON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:59 AM ET

How does a Czech turkey dinner taste?

"We don't know yet!" said a laughing Jim Marshall, TSN's executive producer who will be on a plane today on his way to Pardubice, Czech Republic for the network's coverage of the IIHF 2007 world junior championship. "I'll give you a full report when we get back!" (Which won't be until Jan. 6.)

Marshall knows that cultures and tastebuds can be on divergent paths.

"Last year in Sweden we said, 'We'd like turkey!' " The reaction, he said, was along the lines of, "You want what?" But when it was served up, "It was excellent." Whatever the overseas TSN crew will see on menus this year, we'll get to see whether junior Team Canada can continue this cycle of bringing home gold.

We'll see the faces of Gord Miller, Pierre McGuire and James Cybulski on our screens, but a full-meal contingent will be behind the scenes.

"We have a producer, director, myself, the production manager, and all the technicians. So it's a crew of about 40," Marshall said. They will be working in the 165,000-person hometown of NHLers Ales Hemsky, Jan Bulis and Dominik Hasek.

As far as the industry goes, working in eastern Europe is not a trip to the dark ages. In fact, it's wired up.

"It's actually easier to do (high definition) than standard broadcast," Marshall said.

"We found a company based out of Sweden called Prisma and they have three high definition television mobiles, European mode, (because) the power is different there.

"We've used high definition European-style since the Olympics in Torino. But this company provided us with the mobiles last year in Sweden (for the '06 world junior) and it was excellent. You saw the pictures. So we're going to get the same thing this year."

The 1972 Canada-Russia series was not just history on ice, it was a significant moment in worldwide sports broadcasting. The grainy signal came to us from Moscow with stops in Finland, London (where it had to be converted to a North American signal) and Halifax before it got sent across Canada.

"What happens now is, it'll go up on a satellite from Czech Republic and come down here in Toronto. It runs through just one conversion and it's good to go. Because high definition is high definition now, in the amount of lines. The frame rate changes slightly. They're at 50 cycles per second and we're at 60. It's very technical," Marshall said before laughing again. "Not really! Not if I understand it!"

TSN's preview show is Christmas Day (7 pm, ET); Canada vs. Czech Republic (1:30 p.m., ET) on Boxing Day; Canada vs. Slovakia (9:30 a.m., ET) on Dec. 27. Check www.tsn.ca for full listings.

* * *

Two weeks ago I wrote about sports movies, Slap Shot in particular. The next day, dude sidles up as I awaited the filling of a pint. "You forgot Paperback Hero." I did. Set in and around Delisle, Sask., about a fictional local hockey star, it's as beautifully filmed as any Oscar winner, showing the prairies as spectacularly as say, Dances With Wolves, showed the American plains. And, from the clothes, to the rink, to the stubby beer bottles, to the smoky bar with a Bobby Orr poster on the wall over the shuffleboard table, it's how Canada was in 1973.

Lots of Canadian "that guy" actors, but its tragic flaw is the main character, played over the top by Keir Dullea (2001: A Space Odyssey) as a wild-eyed idiot. How to tell the American actors from the Canadians: By the way they say "eh."


Videos

Photos