Women’s hockey gold medal preview: U.S. hopes to win rematch vs. Canada

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Whether you think the two teams are close or not, the results say that Canada is a big favorite over the U.S. in Thursday’s women’s hockey gold medal game.

Most obviously, the Canadians are dominating at the Olympic level. They’ve won two straight gold medal games against the United States (2002 and 2010) and are going for their fourth consecutive gold medal overall. Most stunningly, they haven’t lost a game in the Olympics since 1998, a streak of 19 straight wins.

VIDEO: Semifinal showdown – U.S. and Canada’s men also square off in a big game on Friday.

That 2-0 loss in the gold medal game from 2010 probably stings for returning U.S. team members, but a 3-2 group play loss in this tournament is likely the first thing in mind. U.S. forward Monique Lamoureux told the Associated Press that she fully expects a better effort.

“Whenever film sessions run 30 minutes or longer, it’s not the happiest moment,” Lamoureux. “I got called out, and a lot of people did. We took it to heart.”

“After that, we felt a lot better because we know we can do better and we will do better.”

MORE: U.S. women’s coach Katey Stone eyes history

On the Canadian side, they’re doing their best to approach the contest as they would any other.

“I don’t get nervous. It’s just another game,” Canadian defenseman Jocelyne Larocque said.

A healthy number of women’s hockey fans would disagree heartily.

A quick look at the rivalry

source: AP
Credit: AP

The U.S. and Canada are the only women’s teams to win gold at the Olympics since the event debuted in 1998. They faced off in three finals, with the U.S. winning 3-1 in 1998 and Canada taking it all with a 3-2 win in 2002 and a 2-0 shutout in 2010.

The teams haven’t been afraid to mix it up, including in Canadian head coach Kevin Dineen’s debut.

The two nations seem aware that it’s a race to first with others lagging behind, even if some are more honest about it than others.

MORE: Full preview

Some key names

With connections to her U.S. men’s star brother Phil Kessel, many are probably aware of Amanda Kessel, who is making her Olympic debut.

She isn’t the only name to know, however. The United States features some talented players, especially among its forwar ranks, as Kessel joins veteran Julie Chu, the Lamoureux sisters (Monique and Jocelyne), Hilary Knight, Kendall Coyne and Meghan Duggan. This might serve as Chu and goalie Jessie Vetter’s final chance to beat Canada.

Canada boasts plenty of big names of its own, of course. The biggest is Hayley Wickenheiser – whether she’s the captain or not – who is often described as the greatest player in the history of women’s hockey. Other players of note include Meghan Agosta-Marciano and Caroline Ouelette, who received the “C” from Wickenheiser.

MORE: Vetter and Chu’s last chance against Canada

Cyclist in induced coma after Tour of Poland crash

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Dutch cyclist Fabio Jakobsen was put into an induced coma Wednesday after suffering injuries in a crash on the final stretch of the Tour of Poland, organizers said.

A massive crash at the finish of the first stage resulted in Dylan Groenewegen‘s disqualification from the race.

Leading a bunch sprint, Groenewegen veered toward the right barrier, pinching countryman Jakobsen, who barreled into the barrier meters from the finish line.

Jakobsen went head over heels, his bike went airborne and the barriers exploded onto the road, causing more cyclists to crash.

Jakobsen was airlifted to a hospital in serious condition and was put into an induced coma, the Tour de Pologne press office said.

Doctor Pawel Gruenpeter of the hospital in Sosnowiec said Jakobsen suffered injuries to the head and chest but that his condition was stable at the intensive care unit. Jakobsen will need surgery to his face and skull, Gruenpeter told state broadcaster TVP Sport.

Groenewegen crossed the finish line first but was disqualified, giving Jakobsen the stage win, according to the stage race website.

Groenewegen, a 27-year-old Jumbo-Visma rider, owns four Tour de France stage wins among the last three years.

The International Cycling Union (UCI) “strongly condemned” Groenewegen’s “dangerous” and “unacceptable” behavior. It referred Groenewegen’s actions to a disciplinary commission for possible sanctions.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Figure skating Grand Prix Series will be held as ‘domestic’ competitions

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Figure skating’s Grand Prix Series will go ahead as scheduled this fall, with modifications due to the coronavirus pandemic, the International Skating Union decided Monday.

Each of the series’ six tops around the globe will be “a domestic run event,” limited to skaters of the event’s host country, who regularly train in the host country and from a respective geographical area. The number of disciplines and skaters at each event are to be worked out.

The Grand Prix Series, held annually since 1995, is a six-event fall season, qualifying the top six skaters and teams per discipline to December’s Grand Prix Final. The annual stops are in the U.S., Canada, China, France, Russia and Japan, leading up to the Final, which is held at a different site each year.

The Final is the second-biggest annual competition after the world championships, which are typically in late March. The Final is still scheduled for Beijing, though whether or when it can be held will be discussed.

The series begins in late October with Skate America, which debuted in 1979 and has been held every year since 1988 as the biggest annual international competition in the U.S. Skate America’s site is Las Vegas, just as it was in 2019.

Skaters typically compete twice on the Grand Prix Series (three times if they qualify for the Final). ISU vice president Alexander Lakernik said skaters will be limited to one start in the six-event series before the Final, according to a Russian media quote confirmed by Phil Hersh.

The ISU has not confirmed or denied Lakernik’s assertion.

Most, if not all, top-level U.S. skaters train in the U.S. or Canada. That makes the first two Grand Prix stops — Skate America and Skate Canada — likely destinations. Grand Prix assignments have not been published.

“I appreciate the ISU is open to adapting competitive formats and is working to give athletes opportunities to compete,” Evan Bates, a U.S. ice dance champion with Madison Chock who trains in Montreal, wrote in a text message to Hersh. “This announcement gives reassurance that the ISU is doing their best to ensure a season will still take place. Of course, it’s hard to predict what will happen, and we’re not sure about what country we would compete in. It would probably depend on what the quarantine rules are at that time.”

The January 2021 U.S. Championships are scheduled for San Jose, Calif. The March 2021 World Championships are set for Stockholm.

In July, the ISU canceled the Junior Grand Prix Series for skaters mostly ages 13 to 18, including two-time U.S. champion Alysa Liu, who cannot enter the senior Grand Prix until 2021.

Other early season senior international competitions scheduled for September were also canceled or postponed.

U.S. Figure Skating said in a statement that it will have more details on the Grand Prix Series in the coming weeks after collaborating with an ISU-appointed group.

“This is a great example of the figure skating community coming together to ensure that the world’s premier figure skating series will continue during these challenging times,” the statement read. “Figure skaters want to compete and figure skating fans from all around the world want to see their favorite athletes skate, and this format will ensure just that.”

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