I was reading about various Olympic standards and people's issue with them. I wrote a sardonic piece on the subject, using women's hockey as my foil. Had nowhere to upload it at the time so now it's yours. Not particularly timely or anything. Enjoy!
New Olympic Hockey Standards Put
Canada and USA Teams in Women's Final
Recent revisions in women's
international hockey standards have eliminated the entire contingent
of European teams. Sweden, Russia, Italy, Finland, Germany, and the
Swiss have consistently lost to the two dominant North American
powerhouses: Canada and the United States. The European community has
decided to collectively withdraw any teams' automatic entry into the
Olympics and replace it with a tough new "gold-level" standard.
The silver-medal winning Swedish coach Peter Elander was asked
for a statement, given his team's relative success at the previous
Olympic Games: "Go big or go home. Our silver medal win was just a
fluke. We still lost to Canada in the gold medal match. Standards
should be in place to show the world we're sending not only the best
hockey players we have, but also the best in the world. If such
players do not exist, then neither will our team".
was unclear how the sport would be considered particularly
"international" with only two teams from the one continent, similar
sentiments resonated throughout European countries:
Russians] prefer not to send our players to an Olympic hockey event
until they can compete head-to-head with the Canadians, whom we have
defined as our 'A standard'. Nobody here wants another embarrassment
like in Torino", said a spokesman from Moscow, referring to the team's
12-0 rout two years ago.
"The Italians must hold our nations'
hockey elite to the same standards as the United States or Canada
before stepping onto the ice", commented Markus Sparer, the Italian
coach of the 2006 Olympic squad (who lost 16-0 in their debut game
against Canada). "It is not our duty to merely represent our country,
but to go for gold. My conscience tells me to spend the taxpayer's
money as fiscally as possible".
Canada's top female
hockey player Hayley Wickenheiser was asked to comment on the
self-imposed European standards: "I think this sets a poor precedent
for international recognition and development of our nation's favorite
sport. On the other hand I now have time to watch the men's
The women's bronze medal is now up for
grabs for any nation willing to relax their standards for the 2010 Vancouver games.