SOCHI, Russia — The most impressive part of the women’s hockey final took place off the ice. Nearly an hour after the United States lost gold in overtime, nearly 30 minutes after the players tearfully accepted silver medals, nearly 15 minutes after they stood respectfully for the Canadian national anthem, the players walked through the media mixed zone in the bowels of the Bolshoy Ice Dome.
The women were still in uniform with silver medals draped around their necks and flower bouquets from the medal ceremony in hand. They didn’t have time to process what happened, how they held a two-goal lead late in the third period, how they stood 54.6 seconds away from the gold that had eluded them since women’s hockey made its Olympic debut in 1998.
Some were too upset to talk. But most answered questions with watery eyes, talking as openly and honestly as they could about what was arguably the biggest, toughest loss of their athletic careers. Forward Kelli Stack admitted she preferred talking with reporters instead of heading back to the locker room, taking off her Team USA uniform, and confronting the bitter end of the Olympic tournament.
“It will take time [to understand what happened],” said defenseman Gigi Marvin. “I think, we were focused so much, it’s tough. It came down to one goal and they put the puck in the net. I’m very, very proud of every one of my teammates, everything we’ve gone through together, it’s about so much more than 60 minutes. There’s a whole lifetime that was etched into this, this entire experience represents so much more than these 60 minutes. Yes, we wanted to win, yes, we’ll come out of it, but right now it’s just kind of . . . the hurting process.”
Gold-medal moments usually get all the attention. Arms raised in triumph, the joyful tears, the crowd shots of proud parents. But the raw emotion of losing, particularly the gold in overtime or on a last run, can be more compelling. In the case of the women’s hockey final on Thursday and women’s bobsled final runs on Wednesday, gold-turned-to-silver provided oddly inspiring scenes.
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