By SOPHIA CONSTANTINO
On Feb. 21, the U.S. women’s hockey team won its first Olympic Gold Medal over Canada since its first victory in 1998. The game lasted through regulation playing time, overtime and an extended shootout to finish in a 3-2 win for the United States. The truly inspiring victory has drawn news media attention to one of the most underrated rivalries in recent sporting history.
As the two undisputed most successful women’s hockey teams, the United States and Canadian women’s teams have been battling it out in the Olympics for the past 20 years, since the sport was first included in the Olympics in 1998 in the Nagano games. After its first Olympic victory in 1998, the U.S. women’s team has been silver to the Canadian’s gold in all four of the following Olympic games.
The rivalry deepens considering the IIHF Women’s World Championship outcomes since its introduction in 1990; Canada dominated all but one championship for the first 10 years until the U.S. took the title in 2005. The U.S. has held the championship since 2008, except in 2012.
The U.S. women’s team has been growing in news media relevance since its introduction to the Olympics, but the team earned national attention nearly a year ago after boycotting the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship in pursuit of equal pay.
When USA Hockey threatened to bring on replacements, the Women’s national team convinced high school and college level potentials to boycott as well. Fellow athletes, including the Women’s national soccer team and players’ associations for the NHL, NBA, NHL, MLB and WNBA, supported the boycott through social media. The team was successful in negotiations with USA Hockey just three days before the 2017 IIHF games, which it went on to win for the seventh time in eight years.
Last night’s victory, which happened on the 38th anniversary of the historic “Miracle on Ice” upset of the U.S. men’s national team victory over the former Soviet Union in 1980, has brought the women’s national hockey team into the news media spotlight it deserves after years of exceptional competition and a groundbreaking stand for equality.