Canadian-American rivalry in women’s hockey begins another chapter at Sochi Olympics

Posted by Amey Doyle on February 06, 2014
Canadian-American rivalry in women’s hockey begins another chapter at Sochi Olympics

Written By: Rosie DiManno         Photo Credit: RICHARD LAUTENS / TORONTO STAR

SOCHI, RUSSIA—They’re looking for four-peat gold. But coming off four-defeat doldrums.
That’s 1-2-3 Olympic championships in a row for the Canadian female hockey team. And 1-2-3-4 losses in a row just this past December to arch-rival — demonstrably only rival in a distaff hockey panoply of precisely two (2) United States.
Women’s hockey is on the Winter Games bubble. It isn’t sportin’, certainly not when, last time around in Vancouver, Canada outscored the opposition 46-2 and the U.S. did it to the tune of 40-2, falling 2-0 in the final against their not-so-friendly neighbours north of the 49th Parallel. The International Olympic Committee is reviewing its Games menu to see which sports might be tossed — you know, to make room for all that jiggy junk stuff younger fans like.
And women’s shinny just hasn’t enlarged its footprint much beyond a handful of countries, eight of which are participating in the tournament here with the only question mark who will take bronze. The IOC was deeply embarrassed four years ago when Canada knocked off Slovakia 18-0. (Don’t cry for the Slovaks though; they’d earlier, in the build-up to Vancouver, pulverized Bulgaria by a score of 82-nil, the most one-sided game in the annals of the International Ice Hockey Federation).
But the alleged pointlessness of the women’s game beyond endless Canada-U.S. competition will summon a strong contrary argument from the Canuck girls-with-sticks.
“We’re fighting for so much more than the lack of numbers in our game,” says Caroline Oullette, veteran of three Olympics and, last month, named to replace longest-tenured of all (and Canadian flag-bearer) Hayley Wickenheiser as team captain.
“In some cases, it’s a question of equality so that girls four and five years old can even try playing to see if they will love it.”
As an aside here, there was Japan’s Yurie Adachi explaining to reporters Wednesday why she took up this alien sport following the Nagano Games in 1998.
“I watched it every day on TV when I was in elementary school. For that competition Japan participated because they were the hosts and we were quite different from other countries, as we knew we could not win. But now we have improved and we have a better chance to win.”

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