Following Canadian Women to
Salt Lake City


February 21, 2002

Team Canada women win gold
Eight was enough, after all.

Despite losing all eight exhibition meetings in the past year by a combined score of 31-13, Team Canada beat Team USA when it mattered most, 3-2 in the gold medal game at the Salt Lake Olympic Winter Games.

Caroline Ouellette, Hayley Wickenheiser and Jayna Hefford scored for Team Canada, which avenged a loss to the U.S. in the gold medal game at the 1998 Nagano Games.

Nine holdovers from that Canadian squad skated in Thursday's Olympic rematch at the E-Center.

"It's been four long years thinking about that disappointment in '98 and finally bringing the gold medal home to the country where it belongs," Team Canada captain Cassie Campbell said, bursting into tears.

"We deserved it."

"We just feel great, I can't believe it," added an equally emotional Wickenheiser, the tournament MVP with seven goals and 10 points.

"The Americans had our flag on their floor in the dressing room. And now I want to know if they want us to sign it.

"We are so happy."

Katie King and Karyn Bye replied in a losing cause for Team USA, which has dropped all seven world championship finals to Canada too.

Kim St. Pierre was spectacular in goal for Canada, turning aside 25 shots.

"I just wanted to prove to everybody that I could do it," St. Pierre said. "We knew we could do it."

The Canadians proved the superior squad in all aspects, not only outscoring and outskating the Americans, but nullifying 9-of-11 power plays, including a pair of 5-on-3s.

"It was absolutely atrocious," Wickenheiser said of the officiating and, indirectly, referee Stacey Livingston of Utica, N.Y.

"That was the worst refereeing I've ever seen in female hockey," Campbell added. "But you know what?

"We've been challenged all year and that was just another challenge."

Canada started strongly and was rewarded early when Ouellette opened the scoring at 1:45 of the first period.

Cherie Piper carried the puck behind the net off a faceoff and passed out front to Ouellette, who swatted it past Sara DeCosta for a 1-0 lead.

The U.S. tied it 1-1 on its fifth power play as King re-directed Tara Mounsey's point shot by St. Pierre early in the second.

It marked the first power play goal surrendered by Canada in the tournament.

Wickenheiser restored Canada's lead at 4:10, roofing a Danielle Goyette rebound over DeCosta and under the crossbar.

"Nobody thought we were going to win," Wickenheiser said. "We believed in each other, we got ugly goals and we won."

But the backbreaker proved to be Hefford's breakaway goal with one second remaining in the period.

Gloving a long outlet pass, she broke in alone on DeCosta, deked to her backhand and bumped a shot off the American netminder and into the net for a 3-1 advantage.

St. Pierre was particularly sharp as the U.S. pressed in the third period, snaring Angelo Ruggiero's long range slapshot and, moments later, padding aside a point-blank drive by Julie Chu.

"We knew goaltending was going to be huge," Wickenheiser said. "Our team just battled."

But with 3:33 left, Bye sliced the deficit to 3-2 with a one-timer inside the near post on a power play.

Canada forechecked ferociously from there, pinning the U.S. in its own zone before thwarting one final, last gasp with DeCosta on the bench for an extra attacker.

"We just tightened up," Wickenheiser said. "We just hung on.

reprinted with permission

Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport
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Phone: 613-562-5667
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by Li Robbins
CBC Sports Online

Salt Lake City: "The right place"

Salt Lake City, Utah, may indeed be "the right place," at least, if you're talking about its geographical setting as an asset in hosting the 2002 Olympic Winter Games.

When the Mormon prophet Brigham Young (whose followers today prefer to be called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) led the first group of 143 men, three women, and two children into the valley of the Great Salt Lake in the summer of 1847, he proclaimed the land was "the right place" to create a kind of Utopia for the persecuted followers of his faith. Over a century and a half later, Salt Lake City is the heartland of the religion, and the hub of a metropolitan area of more than a million people spread throughout the Salt Lake Valley.

But what makes it "the right place" to host the Winter Games? One of the reasons is Salt Lake City's unique physical location. Although the city itself is spread across a broad valley floor, it's surrounded by rugged mountain ranges, whose peaks remain snowcapped for much of the year. That means it's stunning to look at, but more importantly, it means skiing -- central to any Winter Olympics.

"The greatest snow on earth"
On the city's eastern edge it's the Wasatch Range, with peaks of up to 3,500 metres. On the other side of the valley, the Oquiirh Mountains (pronounced OH-ker) loom. There are no ski resorts there, but the Wasatch is home to what some skiers (and the state's license plates) proclaim is "the greatest snow on earth" -- beautiful, light powder.

That fluffy stuff is the result of a fortuitous confluence of geographical circumstances. Its location in the western part of the United States puts Utah right in line for storms coming off the Pacific Ocean. Those precipitation-bearing brews hit the 330-kilometre-long Wasatch Range only after crossing the largest lake west of the Mississipi, Great Salt Lake. It's huge at 1,700 square miles, but shallow, with a maximum depth of only about 13m, the average depth only about six metres.

Those shallow waters are essential to the formation of powder snow. Powder snow falls gently in the ski hills above Salt Lake City, famed for their pristine beauty, with gentle weather conditions to match. (The same can't be always claimed by the city itself, which at times falls prey to a nasty winter haze, known as an inversion.)

That signature powder is formed in part because those shallow lake waters heat up faster in the sun, letting the clouds above absorb the water vapour. Then, in notoriously arid Utah, the extremely dry air works on that vapour to create powder skiers adore.

Not likely what Brigham Young ever envisioned as part of Salt Lake City's charms when he first laid eyes on the valley. In the 19th century it was something of a no-man's land -- dense sagebrush a cover for lizards that darted around and home to little else. But according to Tom Wharton, author of a book simply called Utah, "No group of people in the West since the coming of the whites has been more aware of the importance of water, more cohesive and diligent in searching, capturing, and distributing it, or more suitably adapted to preserving and perpetuating a water-dependent culture in an arid land than the Mormons."

Salt, salt everywhere
In a sense, the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints conquered the desert to form Salt Lake City. The Great Salt Lake was not much help to those early settlers though. About 20 minutes west of the city lies the largest remaining body of water left over from the prehistoric Lake Bonneville. Its salty broth registers from nine to 28 percent on the salinity scale -- contrast that to the three-percent salinity typical of oceans, and you can imagine how little help its waters would be to agricultural irrigation.

As a consequence of its saltiness, the lake has no fish, although it is home to a remarkably large brine shrimp population. That may not mean good eatin' for people, but it makes for fine bird food. Waterfowl are the lake's main attraction these days, with birders flocking, so to speak, to the lake's shores and islands.

Great Salt Lake isn't much for fishing, but it's a birder's paradise.

Both fish and fowl will be far away from most people's thoughts during the games, when the thrill of watching some of the world's best winter athletes will be the focus of attention. The Salt Lake City Olympics organizers believe there will be record-breaking performances at the games, again in part due to the physical location of Salt Lake City itself.

The fastest ice on earth?
Take the speed skating oval, for example. Because of its elevation, Utah's dry air and the building's design, Olympic organizers expect the ice sheet to be the fastest in the world, and in its brief history, it's already been the site of several broken records. And as far as short-track competitions go (think roller derby on ice, and you're getting warm), the high altitude and reduced air friction is also an indicator that skaters should have that extra bit of speed for record setting in the relays. For ski jumpers who actually thrive on air resistance to lengthen their leaps, though, the thin air at the Utah Olympic Park might bring them down to earth a bit faster.

Indeed, the altitude that is a blessing for some may prove something of a curse for others. An athlete competing in the Nordic Combined at Soldier Hollow, for example, will likely find the altitude of some 1,700m taxing. The difference in altitude between the Olympic Village, where the athletes are housed, and the cross-country venues could persuade some athletes to seek accommodations outside the Village itself.

Still, it seems evident that in other respects, the geography of Salt Lake City was a positive force in terms of the city's original Olympic bid. After all, "the best snow in the world" ensured that all alpine skiing courses, (with the exception of the downhill), already existed and were used regularly for World Cup races. Park City, just 30 minutes from downtown Salt Lake, could easily host the slalom, giant slalom and freestyle skiing events. Less than an hour away in the Snowbasin Ski Area, there were the perfect sites for the downhill and Super-G events, and the Bear Hollow Winter Sports Park had world-class ski jumping facilities.

Now all that remains is waiting to see just which athletes will find Salt Lake City to be the right place at the right time.