The Vancouver Winter Olympics are days away. If you are not lucky enough to be traveling to Vancouver, reserve your spot on the couch. The Opening Ceremonies occur on February 12.
For ice hockey fans, the women’s competition could prove interesting. The United States and Canada are favorites for the gold, but Sweden and the Russian Federation could upset things.
The U.S. women’s ice hockey team has won the IIHF World Women’s Championship the past two years, and they are ranked number one in the world. However, they are the number two seed at the Winter Olympics behind the Canadian team. Under coach Mark Johnson and team captain Natalie Darwitz, the women could knock off the Canadians this year. The U.S. team will be coming into the Olympics with a strong exhibition win over Finland on February 5, which they won 5-1.
The U.S. and the Canadian teams have ruled Olympic Women’s ice hockey. The Canadians took home the gold in 2002 and 2006. The U.S. team won gold in 1998, silver in 2002, and bronze in 2006. The Swedish team won the silver in 2006.
The Canada Hockey Place will host this year's competition. The name has been changed from the General Motors Place (where the Vancouver Canucks normally play) for the duration of the games because corporate sponsors can not brand Olympic sporting venues. The rink features a North American ice surface, which is four meters narrower than international rinks.
This year the Olympic competition will comprise of two groups of four teams. Canada, Switzerland, Slovakia, and Sweden comprise Group A. The United States, China, Finland, and the Russian Federation are in Group B. The U.S. team opens on February 14 against China. They play the Russian Federation on the 16th and Finland on the 18th. Individual team records will determine the second round pairings. The championship game will be played on the 25th.