While our nation was still buzzing this morning about here USA Men’s Hockey” href=”http://sportsdivasinc.com/2014/02/t-j-oshie-usa-mens-hockey/” target=”_blank”>TJ Oshie and his ridiculous shootout performance on Saturday that lifted the Men’s US team over the Russians (hell, ed we even made him our HAM of the Week), the US Women’s Hockey team were already blazing ahead of their male counterparts, dominating the Swedes, 6-1 in the women’s semi-final, launching them into the gold medal game on Thursday against Canada.
Yet, not enough people are talking about it.
In a society where women’s sports struggle to obtain a fraction of the exposure, money or respect of their male counterparts, no one should really be surprised by the lack of attention given to this talented and accomplished team. Yet, it still
pisses me off disturbs me.
Women’s hockey wasn’t even introduced to the Olympics until 1998, and to this day, many countries still do not put the money forth to create a credible team. Canada and the US continue to dominate the competition with up-and-comers Sweden, Switzerland, China and Russia dedicating resources and talent to their respected programs.
This ‘talent gap’ between countries, as detailed in Sun-Time’s Rick Morrissey’s article, is not a good thing for the future of women’s hockey at the Olympics. After the years of hard work spent on and off the ice by so many dedicated women in the battle to have women’s hockey as a recognized sport by the IOC, there is still rumblings that the sport could be eliminated if it does not become more competitive.
I would imagine that’s tough to hear for the twenty-one dedicated women that make up the US Women’s team. Many of these women do double-duty and are full time college students. With no U.S. professional women’s hockey league in place, the Olympics is the ultimate goal and destination for these woman, many who have dedicated their lives to the game.
A closer look at the women’s roster, and you notice that these ladies range from 20 to 29-years-old with the average age around 25. Palos Heights, Illinois native and lightening fast forward, Kendall Coyne is only 21 and is taking time off from college (she’s a junior at Northeastern University) to play in the Olympics in Sochi. Goalie Brianne McLaughlin is finishing up her nursing degree at Robert Morris University. Without the big NHL paychecks and publicity that the men receive, it is critical that these women finish their degrees as it is likely that hockey won’t be paying all the bills in the future.
While the men’s team has struggled to produce a gold medal since the famous 1980 “Miracle on Ice” in Lake Placid, the ladies brought home a gold in 1998, the inaugural year. Since then, they have medaled in every Olympics with two silvers and one bronze. The biggest threat to the American team? None other than our neighbors up north, the Canadians. It was the Canadians that the US Women’s team lost to in the gold medal game in Vancouver in 2010 and just last week in the preliminary round. And once again, it is the Canadians that the US will face again on Thursday at 11:00am CT in the gold medal game. It will be the Canadian’s fifth consecutive trip to the gold medal game.
Check out USA Hockey Olympic Show’s preview of the gold medal matchup between USA and Canada below.
While comparing the women’s team to the men’s team is futile for so many obvious reasons and would include a discussion about our sports culture, society, sexism, media…I could go on and on – I will argue that these women need and deserve our support and attention, more than ever.
Learn more about these talented women including how to follow and support them on social media. Check out NBC Olympics preview of these lady Olympians here.
With the proliferation and success of women’s hockey in the US, other nations are bound to take notice, ensuring the funding of programs that will help keep women’s hockey in the Olympics, while paving the way for additional women’s sports and international recognition.