Women Are Front And Center In Today’s Olympic Events

February 20, 2014

Forget about the men. There’s only one Olympic hockey rivalry that matters today, and it’s between the women.

The women’s hockey teams of Canada and the U.S. will face off today for Olympic gold. It’s the latest square-off in a tug of war that’s been hot since 1998, when the U.S. team won the first Olympic gold in women’s hockey, beating Canada.

The next three gold medals in that sport went to the Canadians. Our neighbors to the north beat the U.S. in 2002 and 2010. The Canadian women beat Sweden for the gold in 2006.

American Meghan Duggan told USA Today of the ongoing battle: “It’s always revenge against them [Canada].”

Today’s drama might help make up for the loss of what could have been a blockbuster men’s matchup between Russia and the United States. Russia’s men’s hockey team was knocked out of competition Wednesday after losing to Finland, 3-1. The U.S. men compete again Friday, against Canada.

Meanwhile, the women’s figure skating free skate moves into finals today. Yuna Kim of South Korea leads after Wednesday night’s short program. Russian phenom Yulia Lipnitskaya, who wowed the world with her performance to music from Schindler’s List during the team figure skating competition, faltered last night. She’s now in fifth place going into today’s competition. American Gracie Gold is in fourth place after the short program, and America’s Ashley Wagner and Polina Edmunds are in sixth and seventh, respectively.

No matter how hockey or figure skating turn out, the United States can take pride in leading the medal count here in Sochi, at least for now. As of Thursday midday, Team USA has 23 medals at the Winter Olympics, one more than the Netherlands and Russia. Seven of the United States’ medals are gold. And of those seven gold medals, five came from freestyle skiing or snowboarding events — sports that moved to the Olympics after success in the X Games.

Medals are being awarded today in women’s curling, ladies’ ski halfpipe, men’s ski cross and men’s team Nordic combined skiing.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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