Round 3 of the eternal toe-to-toe between the US and Canadian women’s ice hockey teams comes in Lake Placid next week at the Four Nations Cup, where the not-so-friendly neighbors could face each other twice.
Their opener in Burlington, Vt., on Oct. 12 featured a brawl that was sparked by American Monique Lamoureux bumping into Canadian goalie Shannon Szabados.
“We had a similar scrap in 2010, so I guess we have one every Olympic cycle to get it out of our system,” said Canadian captain Hayley Wickenheiser, whose team prevailed, 3-2, in that game and won the next meeting in Boisbriand, Quebec, by a 6-3 count. “It was kind of fun to see, and it brought a lot of intensity to another dogfight with these guys.”
If familiarity has bred a bit of in-your-face contempt after nearly two dozen years of knocking heads, it’s not surprising. These two rivals have played in the final of every world tournament since the 1990 inaugural and in three of the four Olympic gold-medal matches, and one or the other has won all 17 Four Nations Cups.
Plus, all but half a dozen of the Canadians either play or once did play for US college varsities. So they won’t need to wear nametags around the athletes’ village in Sochi in February.
What has given the rivalry even more bite is that the Americans have won four of the last five global crowns, including this year’s in Ottawa. As often as not, the championships are decided by one goal, with two of the last three ending in overtime.
After Lake Placid, the teams will face each other four more times next month in Calgary, Grand Forks, N.D., St. Paul, and Toronto before meeting in the Olympic prelims and, presumably, in the final.
Just say, ‘non’
If Paris wants the 2024 Summer Games to celebrate the centennial of its last time playing host, it should be a bit less French in its pursuit. So says International Olympic Committee member Jean-Claude Killy, whose Gallic countrymen have been rejected in their last five bids. “We can’t turn up once every 10 years and tell the whole world what the Olympic movement is about — that shows arrogance — and then go and repeat that 10 years later,” the Olympic skiing immortal, who counsels a position “of humility, of listening and of perseverance,” told the Journal du Dimanche. Paris, which was runner-up to London for 2012, also was bypassed for 2008 and 1992. Annecy received only seven votes for the 2018 Winter Games and Lille didn’t make the cut for the 2004 Summer . . . Lima, the Peruvian capital that was bypassed for Toronto as host of the 2015 Pan American Games, got the nod for 2019 ahead of Santiago, Chile, and Ciudad Bolivar, Venezuela. It’ll be the first time the quadrennial hemispheric championships are held in South America since Rio de Janeiro staged them in 2007.
Not surprisingly, a green US team got hammered at the recent World Boxing Championships in Kazakhstan, with none of the 10 entrants, including Holyoke light heavyweight Geremias Torres, reaching the quarterfinals. Cam F. Awesome, the superheavy formerly known as Lenroy Thompson, was the only Yank with previous global experience, and he might have medaled if he hadn’t drawn Azerbaijan’s Magomedrasul Medzhidov, who went on to win the title. The Kazakhs topped the table ahead of the Cubans with eight medals, four of them gold . . . Ted Ligety, who won his 18th World Cup grand slalom title at last weekend’s season opener in Austria, was the first man since homeboy Hermann Maier to do it three times on the Soelden glacier. Mikaela Shiffrin, who’ll be favored to win the Olympic slalom, might have made her first GS podium if she hadn’t dug in too deeply on a turn. “Oh well, you live and you learn,” shrugged the 18-year-old. Bode Miller, who sat out last season after knee surgery, was sanguine about a so-so showing (19th) in his first race since February 2012. “It was just sloppy,” said the five-time Olympic medalist. “I didn’t ski that bad, actually.” Not skiing at all was fellow Games champion Lindsey Vonn, who decided to give her rebuilt right knee more time to come around. “I’m not as technically sound as I need to be,’’ said Vonn, who’ll likely make her return in the speed events at Beaver Creek at the end of next month. “That just takes time on the snow.’’
Skate blades dull
Except for dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White, who are favored for gold at Olympus, none of the US figure skaters has won a Grand Prix event after the first two stops. At Skate Canada last weekend, Gracie Gold ended up third behind Russian teen sensation Julia Lipnitskaia and Japan’s Akiko Suzuki after winning the short program, and the men (Joshua Farris, Jeremy Abbott, Ross Miner) finished 5-6-9 amid a blizzard of failed quads and popped triples. After the second-stringers go to Beijing for next weekend’s Cup of China, the first-teamers (Max Aaron, Abbott, Gold, the pair of Marissa Castelli-Simon Shnapir, and Davis-White) head to Tokyo for the NHK Trophy. Both women from last season’s world team are working with new coaches. Ashley Wagner signed on with Rafael Arutyunyan after 84-year-old John Nicks decided that he no longer could travel to competitions. And Gold, who split with Alex Ouriashev, is training with Frank Carroll, who coached Michelle Kwan before she finished her career with Arutyunyan . . . This year’s US men’s bobsled team has a brother act in Melrose siblings Steve and Chris Langton, who made the World Cup squad as pushers. Steve, who’ll likely be riding in USA I with Olympic pilot Steve Holcomb, Vancouver teammate Curt Tomasevic, and Chris Fogt, was a track man at Northeastern; Chris was a lacrosse player at Cornell. Nick Cunningham and Cory Butner will drive the USA II and III sleds at the Calgary opener a month from now, while Elana Meyers (I), Jamie Greubel (II), and Jazmine Fenlator (III) will be the women’s pilots. Olympic hurdler Lolo Jones made the squad as a brakewoman, as did London teammate Lauryn Williams, the relay gold medalist whom Jones recruited for the program. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m going to regret recruiting her if she beats me out for the team,’ ” Jones joked.
The luge lineup
A quartet of Olympians — former world champion Erin Hamlin, Chris Mazdzer, Julia Clukey, and Christian Niccum — made the US luge team for the first five World Cup races, starting in Lillehammer in mid-November. They’ll be joined by Joe Mortensen, Tucker West, Taylor Morris, Kate Hansen, Summer Britcher, Niccum’s partner Jayson Terdiman, and fellow doubles Matt Mortensen-Preston Griffall and Jake Hyrns-Andrew Sherk. Just missing the team was world junior titlist Emily Sweeney . . . The US speedskating team that will take the ice for next week’s World Cup opener in Calgary includes 11 members of the 2010 Olympic team, most notably medalists Shani Davis (bidding for his third Games at 31), Brian Hansen, Trevor Marsicano, and Jonathan Kuck, plus Heather Richardson, now the reigning women’s world sprint champion.
Right on target
The US men, who missed Olympic gold by 1 point last year, earned a nice consolation prize at this month’s World Archery Championships in Turkey, where Brady Ellison, Jake Kaminski, and Joe Fanchin won the team title for the first time since 1983. The South Koreans, who’d claimed the last six crowns, missed the podium for the first time since 1987 . . . How much is an Olympic gold medal worth? Not a quarter of a million dollars, which is the minimum that Jerry Lucas hoped to fetch when he put his 1960 basketball keepsake up for auction, then withdrew when nobody offered that bid. Lucas did collect $60,000 for his Rome game jersey, though, and $72,000 for the NBA ring that he won with the Knicks in 1973.John Powers can be reached at email@example.com; material from Olympic committees, sports federations, personal interviews, and wire services was used in this report.