Olympic tournament shows women's hockey making strides
TribLIVE Sports Videos
SOCHI, Russia — A five-time Olympian, Hayley Wickenheiser has been representing Canada in the Winter Games ever since women's hockey was added to the program.
And she likes the progress the sport has made.
“This is the most competitive Olympics we've ever seen,” she said this week after winning her fourth gold medal in a 3-2 overtime victory over the United States. “You just don't know what's going to happen in most of the games. There's a lot of entertainment value in that.”
The gold medal game in Sochi featured the United States and Canada, a scene that's as predictable as a snowboarder saying he's stoked. The North Americans have won every gold medal, meeting in the championship game in four of the five Olympics since women's hockey was added in Nagano in 1998.
And the game they produced Thursday could hardly have disappointed, with Canada coming back from a two-goal deficit in the final 3:26 of regulation, then winning it on a power-play goal in overtime.
But the real progress, women's hockey players and officials said this week, was elsewhere in the bracket.
Unlike the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, where nearly half of the games were blowouts, almost every game was close.
And with Switzerland finishing third to earn the nation's first-ever women's hockey medal, there are signs that the gap between the powers and the rest of the world is narrowing.
“It's good that it's a new winner,” International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel said of the Swiss victory, smiling broadly after the bronze medal match. “It will be also much better next time.”
Hockey's distaff division has struggled for its entire Olympic lifespan with a lack of competition, and it's not hard to see why: tens of thousands of girls grow up playing the sport in its North American hotbed, Fasel said, while in Switzerland the number is more like 900.
The Americans and Canadians also fund their national teams so that athletes can to train and play together almost year-round, while the rest of the world might assemble its Olympic or world championship team six weeks before the tournament.
“I think the bronze medal was our goal,” Switzerland forward Sara Benz after the third-place game. “In the semifinals we wanted to beat Canada. But maybe next Olympics. It's our goal to achieve more and more every year.”
U.S. coach Katey Stone reminded fans that women's hockey has been an Olympic sport only since 1998, and the first world championship was held in 1990.
“There have been tremendous strides made in women's hockey,” she said. “I think people need to be patient.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Starkey: Garoppolo baffles Steelers
- State Dems broke ties with political consultant days before FBI raids
- Worker injured when excavator backs over him in Kittanning
- Pirates acquire pitcher Blanton from Royals for cash
- Peduto blasts Wolf’s plan to borrow $3B to shore up pensions
- Cardinals add outfielder Moss in trade with Indians
- Man with handgun robs Fayette County bar, patron
- ‘Greed is not criminal,’ says judge in McCullough trial
- Multiple delays to slow travel between Alle-Kiski Valley, Greensburg
- Derry boy recovering at home after high-profile intestinal transplant
- Tight ends’ role in Steelers passing game continues to lessen but players remain selfless