Gillian Apps

Canada has an Apps for women’s hockey hostilities with U.S.

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There is no legal body checking in women’s hockey. There are no enforcers and certainly no fighting allowed, despite recent U.S.-Canada encounters.

But there is a 48-second YouTube clip titled “Big Hit Worlds 2007” uploaded by former U.S. goalie Chanda Gunn.

The video opens with a two-on-one breakaway in the gold-medal game of the 2007 World Championships in Winnipeg. Barreling Canadian forward Gillian Apps receives the puck 10 feet from the goal, misfires, and her momentum slides into the crease and into the path of Gunn.

“Oh my, [Gunn] lost her mask, and I think she hit her head on the post,” the TSN play-by-play man says. “Gillian Apps is a handful. She’s 6 feet tall, 180 pounds. She goes to the net hard, and you’re about to see what happens if you get in her way.”

The network rolls slow-motion replay after slow-motion replay after slow-motion replay of Apps’ right elbow rising and connecting with the helmet of an unaware Gunn, who was looking 90 degrees to the right. Judgment wavers on intent with each view.

A trainer tends to Gunn, who picks herself up after 10 seconds face down on the ice.

“Gillian Apps just skating hard, just going straight to the net for a potential rebound, and, of course, doesn’t really try and stop,” the female analyst says. “I tell you, that’s got to hurt.”

Gunn was asked if it hurt.

“Not a lot, to be honest,” Gunn said in a telephone interview. “I’m just kidding.

“I’m a goalie. Getting run sucks.”

Apps wasn’t penalized. Gunn finished the game – the U.S. lost 5-1 – and, though she didn’t recall a specific diagnosis, is sure she left Manitoba with a concussion to accompany her silver medal.

It wouldn’t be the last time Apps delivered an American such a parting gift.

Apps, 30, was named to her third Canadian Olympic Team on Monday (full roster here). Canada and the U.S. will play for the sixth time in the run-up to the Olympics in St. Paul, Minn., on Saturday (4 p.m. ET, NBCSN), eight days after they brawled for the second time this fall (video here).

Physicality will be a focus. Canada has an Apps for that, but is she the bad girl of women’s hockey?

“She doesn’t necessarily play within the confines of the rules, which can be labeled as cheap,” Gunn said, choosing her words. “But I don’t think she’s a malicious player.”

Apps, of the affluent Toronto suburb of Unionville, is a two-time Olympic gold medalist, Dartmouth psychology grad and cookbook collector. Her father, Syl Jr., played 10 NHL seasons in the 1970s. Her grandfather, Syl, was a Hockey Hall of Famer, politician and sixth-place finisher in the pole vault at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

The key stat for the family is penalty minutes. Syl had zero for the 1941-42 season (38 games) when he won the Lady Byng Trophy. The Lady Byng is bestowed to players exhibiting “sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of fair play.”

Syl spent less than an hour in the penalty box over his 10-season career broken up by World War II – 56 minutes in 423 games.

His granddaughter played 23 games for the Brampton Thunder of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League in 2012-13, amassing 52 penalty minutes, according to the CWHL website. She led the five-team league.

She had 70 penalty minutes the season before (though the league commissioner said the 2011-12 statistics page is erroneous. It should be more than 70.). The next-highest player had 42.

She had 92 penalty minutes the season before that (and 14 in three playoff games). The next-highest player had 52.

source: Getty Images
Gillian Apps is the all-time penalty minutes leader for Dartmouth and in the CWHL. (Getty Images)

“I prefer not to be in the penalty box,” said Apps, the tallest player on the Canadian national team who was featured in pre-2010 Olympic Nike commercials with Jarome Iginla and Dion Phaneuf swinging the slogan, “Force Fate.” “I think I’m a physical player. I’m one of the bigger players in the game. For me, it’s finding that line between using my size and making sure that I don’t end up in the box.”

Prevailing notion north of the border is Apps is a sufferer for her size. Collisions are inevitable. It doesn’t take Newton to figure the consequences when 6-0, 180, meets 5-4, 150, and who will get sent to the sin bin.

That’s just what happened March 4, 2012, when Brampton hosted the Boston Blades. Apps ran into diminutive American defenseman Caitlin Cahow. How it happened, where it happened, where the puck was and intent are matters of debate.

CWHL teams tape their games, none more vigilantly than Brampton, the league commissioner said. Mysteriously, there was no footage available of this one. Boston asked the league to review the hit for an increase in punishment – Apps had received a game misconduct – the league asked Brampton for video, and the team couldn’t provide any.

Cahow said she lost pieces of her memory. She was bedridden for weeks, off ice for months and credited Dr. Ted Carrick, Sidney Crosby’s concussion specialist, for saving her life in some ways.

“There were days I would wake up and I didn’t know if I could go for a walk, get out of bed and open my eyes,” said Cahow, who was recently named to the White House delegation to Sochi.

Yet she holds no ill will toward her rival. Other Americans aren’t as forgiving.

“Apps is not afraid to muck it up and get in your face and try and intimidate,” said retired U.S. defenseman Angela Ruggiero, now an International Olympic Committee member. “When you get a ref that doesn’t take control of the game, Apps will take control of the game.”

Teammates and opponents agree Apps is quiet on the ice. She never gets the last word.

She’s admired off of it, too, one of the most charitable players on the Canadian national team. Her dad said she’s worked junior hockey camps in the northernmost territory of Nunavut, where average January temperatures are 30 below zero. (Thankfully, these are summer camps).

“I lost my dad [to cancer] in 2007,” Canadian teammate Jayna Hefford said. “I remember getting a card from her, a physical card, which in these days you don’t always get.”

Apps’ gentlemanly grandfather passed away when she was 15, three years after she took up the sport. She was always bigger than the other girls, always adapting to her size and trying to keep from the penalty box. They rarely talked hockey when together. School came first, and she was more or less a straight-A star.

“I think he would enjoy watching her play [today],” Syl Apps Jr. said. “I’ve never seen Gillian maliciously go after somebody.”

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2020 Tour de France standings

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2020 Tour de France results for the yellow jersey, green jersey, white jersey and polka-dot jersey …

Overall (Yellow Jersey)
1. Tadej Pogacar (SLO) — 87:20:05
2. Primoz Roglic (SLO) — +:59
3. Richie Porte (AUS) — +3:30
4. Mikel Landa (ESP) — +5:58
5. Enric Mas (ESP) — +6:07
6. Miguel Angel Lopez (COL) — +6:47
7. Tom Dumoulin (NED) — +7:48
8. Rigberto Uran (COL) — +8:02
9. Adam Yates (GBR) — +9:25
10. Damiano Caruso (ITA) — +14:03
13. Richard Carapaz (ECU) — +25:53
15. Sepp Kuss (USA) — +42:20
17. Nairo Quintana (COL) — +1:03:07
29. Thibaut Pinot (FRA) — +1:59:54
36. Julian Alaphilippe (FRA) — +2:19:11
DNF. Egan Bernal (COL)

Sprinters (Green Jersey)
1. Sam Bennett (IRL) — 380 points
2. Peter Sagan (SVK) — 284
3. Matteo Trentin (ITA) — 260
4. Bryan Coquard (FRA) — 181
5. Wout van Aert (BEL) — 174

Climbers (Polka-Dot Jersey)
1. Tadej Pogacar (SLO) — 82 points
2. Richard Carapaz (ECU) — 74
3. Primoz Roglic (SLO) — 67
4. Marc Hirschi (SUI) — 62
5. Miguel Angel Lopez (COL) — 51

Young Rider (White Jersey)
1. Tadej Pogacar (SLO) — 87:20:13
2. Enric Mas (ESP) — +6:07
3. Valentin Madouas (FRA) — +1:42:43
4. Dani Martinez (COL) — +1:55:12
5. Lennard Kamna (GER) — +2:15:39

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TOUR DE FRANCE: TV, Stream Schedule | Stage By Stage | Favorites, Predictions

Tadej Pogacar, Slovenia win Tour de France for the ages

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A Tour de France that almost didn’t happen ended up among the most exciting in the race’s 117-year history.

Tadej Pogacar, a 21-year-old Slovenian, rode into Paris on Sunday as the first man in more than 60 years to pedal in the yellow jersey for the first time on the final day of a Tour.

Let’s get the achievements out of the way: Pogacar is the first Slovenian to win the Tour, finishing with the other overall leaders behind stage winner Sam Bennett on the Champs-Elysees.

“Even if I would come second or last, it wouldn’t matter, it would be still nice to be here,” Pogacar said. “This is just the top of the top. I cannot describe this feeling with the words.”

He is the second-youngest winner in race history, after Henri Cornet in 1904. (Cornet won after the first four finishers were disqualified for unspecified cheating. The 19-year-old Frenchman rode 21 miles with a flat tire during the last stage after spectators reportedly threw nails on the road.)

Pogacar is the first man to win a Tour in his debut since Frenchman Laurent Fignon in 1983.

And he’s part of a historic one-two for Slovenia, a nation with the population of Houston.

Countryman Primoz Roglic, who wore the yellow jersey for nearly two weeks before ceding it after Saturday’s epic time trial, embraced Pogacar after a tearful defeat Saturday and again during Sunday’s stage.

Tasmanian Richie Porte, who moved from fourth place to third on Saturday, made his first Tour podium in his 10th start, a record according to ProCyclingStats.com. The age range on the Paris gloaming podium — more than 13 years — is reportedly the largest in Tour history.

TOUR DE FRANCE: Standings | TV, Stream Schedule | Stage By Stage

Three men on a Tour de France podium in the shadow of the Arc de Triomphe, each for the first time. Hasn’t been done since 2007, arguably the first Tour of a new era.

This Tour feels similarly guard-changing.

It barely got off, delayed two months by the coronavirus pandemic. Two days before the start, France’s prime minister said the virus was “gaining ground” in the nation and announced new “red zones” in the country, including parts of the Tour route.

Testing protocols meant that if any team had two members (cyclists or staff) test positive before the start or on either rest day, the whole team would be thrown out.

It never came to that. Yet the Tour finishes without 2019 champion, Colombian Egan Bernal, who last year became the first South American winner and, at the time, the youngest in more than 100 years.

Bernal abandoned last Wednesday after struggling in the mountains. His standings plummet signaled the end, at least for now, of the Ineos Grenadiers dynasty after five straight Tour titles dating to Chris Froome and the Team Sky days.

Jumbo-Visma became the new dominant team. The leader Roglic was ushered up climbs by several Jumbo men, including Sepp Kuss, the most promising American male cyclist in several years.

What a story Roglic was shaping up to be. A junior champion ski jumper, he was concussed in a training crash on the eve of what would have been his World Cup debut in 2007. Roglic never made it to the World Cup before quitting and taking up cycling years later.

As Roglic recovered from that spill in Planica, Pogacar had his sights on the Rog Ljubljana cycling club about 60 miles east. Little Tadej wanted to follow older brother Tilen into bike racing, but the club didn’t have a bike small enough.

The following spring, they found one. Pogacar was off and pedaling. In 2018, at age 18, he was offered a contract and then signed with UAE Team Emirates, his first World Tour team. The next year, Pogacar finished third at the Vuelta a Espana won by Roglic, becoming the youngest Grand Tour podium finisher since 1974.

Pogacar was initially slated to support another rider, Fabio Aru, for UAE Emirates at this year’s Tour. But his continued ascent propelled him into a team leader role.

Bernal and Roglic entered the Tour as co-favorites. After that, Pogacar was among a group of podium contenders but perhaps with the highest ceiling.

He stayed with the favorites for much of the Tour, save losing 81 seconds on the seventh stage, caught on the wrong end of a split after a crash in front of him.

“I’m not worried,” Pogacar said that day. “We will try another day.”

The next day, actually. He reeled back half of the lost time, putting him within striking distance of Roglic going into Saturday’s 22-mile time trial, the so-called “race of truth.”

Pogacar put in a performance in the time trial that reminded of Greg LeMond‘s epic finale in 1989. Pogacar won the stage by 81 seconds, greater than the margin separating second place from eighth place. Roglic was a disappointing fifth on the day, but he could have finished second and still lost all of his 57-second lead to Pogacar.

Pogacar turns 22 on Monday, but that might not add much to the celebration.

“Sorry,” he said, “but I’m not really a fan of my birthdays.”

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