Sochi Olympics Ice Hockey Women

IIHF prez: End of Olympic women’s hockey “will never happen”

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Tomorrow will see the Olympic women’s hockey gold medal settled between Canada and the United States for the fourth time in five tournaments. And the gap between those two squads and the rest of the world is a noticeable one.

In recent years, there’s been talk of the sport needing to improve the depth of competition if it is to continue on into the future as part of the Olympics.

But if the leader of the International Ice Hockey Federation has anything to do with it, we won’t need to worry about a potential drop for women’s hockey from the Olympic program.

“I can guarantee that will never happen,” IIHF president Rene Fasel has said according to the Associated Press.

MORE: Sochi mascot melancholy after Russia men’s hockey KO’d

Additionally, the IOC has said that it’s been pleased with the women’s hockey action so far in Sochi.

Nonetheless, the sport could definitely use other powerhouses outside of North America.

Following the Americans’ 6-1 semifinal win over Sweden, U.S. star Julie Chu talked of her hope to eventually see an Olympic women’s hockey field where everyone stands a puncher’s chance.

Suffering a few more upsets beats the alternative from Chu’s perspective.

“The reality is if women’s hockey ever got pulled out of the Olympics, the trickle effect is going to be huge,” she said to Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post on Monday.

“Not just on the Olympic level, not just on the international level, but we’re going to feel it at our NCAA level in the States, and we’re going to feel it in the growth of our girls.”

Christie Rampone not at fitness level to compete for Olympic spot

Christie Rampone
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Christie Rampone, the 40-year-old captain of the 2015 U.S. Women’s World Cup team, has yet to return to full fitness after December knee surgery and pulled out of a U.S. camp ahead of two pre-Olympic friendlies in June.

Her bid for a fifth Olympics, and to become the oldest U.S. Olympic soccer player of all time, is in danger.

The camp begins Friday. The friendlies against rival Japan (which failed to qualify for Rio) are June 2 and June 5.

“I don’t feel 100 percent healthy enough to train and compete at that level,” Rampone said in a press release Tuesday. “I’ve been able to manage myself and contribute to Sky Blue [her club team] this season, which I will continue to do, but I also have an understanding of the level of fitness and health needed to push for an Olympic roster spot, and I know I’m not there right now. It’s not the right choice for myself or the team to put myself in that environment.”

Rampone, a defender, hasn’t played for the U.S. since her December arthroscopic knee surgery. At the 2015 Women’s World Cup, she played a total of 14 minutes.

The U.S. national team is currently without nine players from the 23-player World Cup team, though some are expected back for the Olympics, but only one of the missing other than Rampone is a defender (the retired Lori Chalupny).

The U.S. Olympic women’s soccer team for London was named in May 2012, but the Rio roster of 18 players is expected to be announced by early July.

VIDEO: Hope Solo ‘begrudgingly’ going to Rio Olympics

Ryan Lochte, Missy Franklin, Matt Grevers star in Fandango’s ‘I Love Movies: Rio Olympic Edition’

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NBC Olympics and Fandango partnered for Fandango’s “I Love Movies: Rio Olympic Edition,” featuring swimming gold medalists Ryan LochteMissy Franklin and Matt Grevers, among other Olympians and Paralympians.

Leading up to the Rio Games, NBC Olympics and Fandango plan to release episodes with dozens of athletes from gymnastics, track and field, diving, basketball rugby and Paralympic events.

Watch Lochte’s short film above and Franklin and Grevers reveal their favorite movies below.

Lochte, Franklin and Grevers will look to qualify for the Rio Olympics at the Olympic Trials in Omaha from June 26-July 3, with broadcast coverage on NBC Sports.

MORE: Full NBC Olympic trials broadcast schedule