Shannon Szabados not on Canada Olympic hockey centralization roster

Shannon Szabados
Getty Images

Shannon Szabados, Canada’s top goalie at the last three Olympics, will not be going to a fourth Winter Games next year, as things stand.

Szabados, 34, is not on the 28-player centralization roster from which the 23-player Olympic roster will be named, likely in late December.

“We had some difficult decisions to make, but that just shows how hard our athletes have worked on and off the ice for the opportunity to centralize and get a chance to compete for 23 Olympic roster spots,” national team director Gina Kingsbury said in a press release Wednesday. “We have a number of veterans on this roster in addition to some young athletes who have earned this opportunity.”

Szabados is still part of the national team program after recently taking time away to have daughter Shaylyn last August, a Hockey Canada spokesperson said.

“I am still training, working out etc but my little one is only 8 months so between having her and covid severely limiting any real opportunities to compete I knew I was no where near where i needed to be to be at Olympic level,” Szabados, who is now based primarily in Ohio, wrote in an email. “That coupled with just wanting to be a mom right now, that little girl is my #1 priority at the moment and it wasn’t the right time to make a comeback. I will continue to train and skate and see where the women’s game goes, hopefully there is an opportunity to play somewhere here soon! I am still carded (meaning I can be on the roster for Team Canada at any point moving forward) so we shall see where the future takes us!”

Szabados played in the last major tournament, the 2019 World Championship, where she was in net for a semifinal loss to Finland. It marked the first time in 19 editions of the tournament that Canada did not reach a final matchup with the U.S.

In 2010, Szabados made her Olympic debut and shut out the U.S. 2-0 in the final in Vancouver, stopping 28 shots. She was considered Canada’s third goalie going into the Games, but was chosen over Kim St-Pierre and Charline Labonte, starting goalies in the previous two Olympic finals, to start the semifinal and final.

She was tapped again for the 2014 final in Sochi, won by Canada 3-2 in overtime, to become the only female goalie to win multiple Olympic finals.

In 2018, Szabados said she wasn’t cleared to play until after arriving in PyeongChang due to an MCL tear two months earlier.

She got the No. 1 spot back, but Canada lost the Olympic final to the U.S. in a shootout. American Monique Lamoureux-Morando tied it with 6:21 left. Twin Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson beat Szabados in the shootout once it moved to sudden death.

Canada’s centralization roster goalies include Ann-Renée Desbiens, the 2017 NCAA Player of the Year for Wisconsin, and Emerance Maschmeyer, a member of the last four world championship teams. Geneviève Lacasse, a reserve on the last two Olympic teams, did not make the centralization roster.

Also missing: defender Laura Fortino, who made every Olympic and world championship team since 2012 and led all Canadian skaters in ice time at the 2018 Olympics and 2019 Worlds.

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Football takes significant step in Olympic push

Flag Football
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Football took another step toward possible Olympic inclusion with the IOC executive board proposing that the sport’s international federation — the IFAF — be granted full IOC recognition at a meeting in October.

IOC recognition does not equate to eventual Olympic inclusion, but it is a necessary early marker if a sport is to join the Olympics down the line. The IOC gave the IFAF provisional recognition in 2013.

Specific measures are required for IOC recognition, including having an anti-doping policy compliant with the World Anti-Doping Agency and having 50 affiliated national federations from at least three continents. The IFAF has 74 national federations over five continents with almost 4.8 million registered athletes, according to the IOC.

The NFL has helped lead the push for flag football to be added for the 2028 Los Angeles Games. Flag football had medal events for men and women at last year’s World Games, a multi-sport competition including Olympic and non-Olympic sports, in Birmingham, Alabama.

Football is one of nine sports that have been reported to be in the running to be proposed by LA 2028 to the IOC to be added for the 2028 Games only. LA 2028 has not announced which, if any sports, it plans to propose.

Under rules instituted before the Tokyo Games, Olympic hosts have successfully proposed to the IOC adding sports solely for their edition of the Games.

For Tokyo, baseball-softball, karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing were added. For Paris, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing were approved again, and breaking will make its Olympic debut. Those sports were added four years out from the Games.

For 2028, the other sports reportedly in the running for proposal are baseball and softball, breaking, cricket, karate, kickboxing, lacrosse, motorsports and squash.

All of the other eight sports reportedly in the running for 2028 proposal already have a federation with full IOC recognition (if one counts the international motorcycle racing federation for motorsports).

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Helen Maroulis stars in wrestling documentary, with help from Chris Pratt

Helen Maroulis, Chris Pratt

One of the remarkable recent Olympic comeback stories is the subject of a film that will be shown nationwide in theaters for one day only on Thursday.

“Helen | Believe” is a documentary about Helen Maroulis, the first U.S. Olympic women’s wrestling champion. It is produced by Religion of Sports, the venture founded by Gotham Chopra, Michael Strahan and Tom Brady. Showing details are here.

After taking gold at the 2016 Rio Games, Maroulis briefly retired in 2019 during a two-year stretch in which she dealt with concussions and post-traumatic stress disorder. The film focuses on that period and her successful bid to return and qualify for the Tokyo Games, where she took bronze.

In a poignant moment in the film, Maroulis described her “rock bottom” — being hospitalized for suicidal ideations.

In an interview, Maroulis said she was first approached about the project in 2018, the same year she had her first life-changing concussion that January. A wrestling partner’s mother was connected to director Dylan Mulick.

Maroulis agreed to the film in part to help spread mental health awareness in sports. Later, she cried while watching the 2020 HBO film, “The Weight of Gold,” on the mental health challenges that other Olympians faced, because it resonated with her so much.

“When you’re going through something, it sometimes gives you an anchor of hope to know that someone’s been through it before, and they’ve overcome it,” she said.

Maroulis’ comeback story hit a crossroads at the Olympic trials in April 2021, where the winner of a best-of-three finals series in each weight class made Team USA.

Maroulis won the opening match against Jenna Burkert, but then lost the second match. Statistically, a wrestler who loses the second match in a best-of-three series usually loses the third. But Maroulis pinned Burkert just 22 seconds into the rubber match to clinch the Olympic spot.

Shen then revealed that she tore an MCL two weeks earlier.

“They told me I would have to be in a brace for six weeks,” she said then. “I said, ‘I don’t have that. I have two and a half.’”

Maroulis said she later asked the director what would have happened if she didn’t make the team for Tokyo. She was told the film still have been done.

“He had mentioned this isn’t about a sports story or sports comeback story,” Maroulis said. “This is about a human story. And we’re using wrestling as the vehicle to tell this story of overcoming and healing and rediscovering oneself.”

Maroulis said she was told that, during filming, the project was pitched to the production company of actor Chris Pratt, who wrestled in high school in Washington. Pratt signed on as a producer.

“Wrestling has made an impact on his life, and so he wants to support these kinds of stories,” said Maroulis, who appeared at last month’s Santa Barbara Film Festival with Pratt.

Pratt said he knew about Maroulis before learning about the film, which he said “needed a little help to get it over the finish line,” according to a public relations company promoting the film.

The film also highlights the rest of the six-woman U.S. Olympic wrestling team in Tokyo. Four of the six won a medal, including Tamyra Mensah-Stock‘s gold.

“I was excited to be part of, not just (Maroulis’) incredible story, but also helping to further advance wrestling and, in particular, female wrestling,” Pratt said, according to responses provided by the PR company from submitted questions. “To me, the most compelling part of Helen’s story is the example of what life looks like after a person wins a gold medal. The inevitable comedown, the trauma around her injuries, the PTSD, the drive to continue that is what makes her who she is.”

Maroulis, who now trains in Arizona, hopes to qualify for this year’s world championships and next year’s Olympics.

“I try to treat every Games as my last,” she said. “Now I’m leaning toward being done [after 2024], but never say never.”

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