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

Kelly Cheng, Sara Hughes, beach volleyball’s new sensation, win World Tour Finals

Kelly Cheng, Sara Hughes
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In just a few months since reuniting, Kelly Cheng and Sara Hughes have become not just the best women’s beach volleyball team in the U.S., but also, arguably, the world.

Cheng and Hughes, former partners who got back together for a 2024 Olympic run, won the World Tour Finals for the biggest title for a U.S. pair since April Ross and Alix Klineman took gold in Tokyo.

The 27-year-old Californians swept reigning world champions Duda and Ana Patricia of Brazil 21-18, 21-16 in Sunday’s final in Doha.

Cheng and Hughes have entered four tournaments since reuniting last fall and won all of them — once on the domestic AVP tour and now three international events.

They are rolling into the start of the 2024 Olympic qualifying window next week. It’s likely that the top two U.S. women’s pairs across international events over the course of the next 18 months qualify for the Paris Games.

Cheng and Hughes were previously NCAA champion teammates at USC, then the most promising, young U.S. pro team before splitting in 2018. Cheng made the Tokyo Olympics with Sarah Sponcil (lost in the round of 16), while Hughes’ Tokyo bid flamed out when partner Summer Ross suffered a back injury in 2019.

“It was a lot of the unknown and being young and kind of immature and listening to maybe outside forces and not really knowing how to deal with things as well,” Hughes said in October of their past breakup. “We’ve pretty much moved past that in our relationship. Moving forward with one another, we’re completely different players, and we’re a lot more mature. It feels like the right time. The past is past. We’re just moving forward.”

Cheng and Hughes have taken over from April Ross and Klineman as the top U.S. team. After winning Olympic gold, Klineman underwent shoulder surgery in January 2022 and last week announced she is pregnant and may return from childbirth for a “last-second” 2024 Olympic qualifying bid.

April Ross, a 40-year-old with an Olympic medal of every color, last competed in March, then withdrew before June’s world championships, where she was entered with Emily Day, with an unspecified injury. She has not announced if or when she plans to return to competition.

The U.S. earned at least one beach volleyball medal at every Olympics that the sport has been on the program (since 1996), and a men’s or women’s gold at all but one Olympics. Eighteen months out from the Paris Games, Cheng and Hughes are the best hope to keep the podium streak going.

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Germany opens bobsled worlds with double gold; Kaillie Humphries gets silver

Laura Nolte Bobsled
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Germans Laura Nolte and Johannes Lochner dethroned the reigning Olympic and world champions to open the world bobsled championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland, this weekend.

Nolte, the Olympic two-woman champion driver, won the four-run monobob by four tenths of a second over American Kaillie Humphries, who won the first world title in the event in 2021 and the first Olympic title in the event in 2022. Another German, Lisa Buckwitz, took bronze.

In the two-man, Lochner became the first driver to beat countryman Francesco Friedrich in an Olympic or world championships event since 2016, ending Friedrich’s record 12-event streak at global championships between two-man and four-man.

Friedrich, defeated by 49 hundredths, saw his streak of seven consecutive world two-man titles also snapped.

Lochner, 32, won his first outright global title after seven Olympic or world silvers, plus a shared four-man gold with Friedrich in 2017.

Swiss Michael Vogt drove to bronze, one hundredth behind Friedrich. Geoff Gadbois and Martin Christofferson filled the top American sled in 18th.

Americans Steven Holcomb and Steven Langton were the last non-Germans to win a world two-man title in 2012.

Bobsled worlds finish next weekend with the two-woman and four-man events.

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