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Golden again: Canadian women back on top of Olympic hockey world with win over U.S.

BEIJING — Who else but Marie-Philip Poulin? The big-time performer who has made a career of thriving on hockey's biggest stages did it again Thursday in Beijing, helping Canada reclaim Olympic women's hockey gold against its arch rival.
Team Canada celebrates after defeating the United States in women's hockey gold medal game action at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

BEIJING — Who else but Marie-Philip Poulin? 

The big-time performer who has made a career of thriving on hockey's biggest stages did it again Thursday in Beijing, helping Canada reclaim Olympic women's hockey gold against its arch rival. 

Poulin led Canada with two goals, including the game-winner, and an assist in a 3-2 win over the United States in the gold-medal game.

The Canadian captain scored in a fourth straight Olympic final. She has a combined seven goals in those games.

"It's just so good. It's a great feeling," Poulin said. "It was one hell of an effort."

Sarah Nurse contributed a goal and an assist, with goaltender Ann-Renée Desbiens making 38 saves for the victory.

The win in Beijing was especially sweet for Canada's 13 returning players who felt heartbreak in Pyeongchang, South Korea in 2018, losing 3-2 to the U.S. in a shootout. 

"This is redemption," Poulin said.

Later Tuesday, Marielle Thompson added to Canada's medal tally with a silver in ski cross. It was Canada's 20th medal of the Games (four gold, five silver, 11 bronze).

Canada's fourth gold of the Games capped a dominant tournament for the Canadian women's hockey team. The players rewrote the Olympic hockey record book in multiple categories in Beijing, starting with 57 tournament goals surpassing the 44 of their 2010 predecessors.

Claire Thompson, Sarah Nurse and tournament MVP Brianne Jenner put together strong individual performances.

"This group is very special," Poulin said. "This group has been putting the work in since 2018. 

"We've been having that motivation with that silver medal. But it's teamwork, it's one team — from staff to players — and it was huge today."

In Zhangjiakou, Thompson was back on an Olympic podium after an eight-year wait.

Thompson, from Whistler, B.C., made a late push in the big final of the women's ski cross to win silver — the Canadian's first medal since capturing ski cross gold at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Thompson was dead last for most of the final until a late gutsy double pass saw her take second.

"I just stuck with it," she said. "I knew I was fast at the bottom and I knew I could do some single rollers rather than jumping, especially in this fresh snow, so I just stuck with it, didn't give up till the end and it worked out for me."

Sweden's Sandra Naeslund took home the gold. Daniela Maier won bronze when Switzerland's Fanny Smith was disqualified after a lengthy video review.

Canada had four skiers in the semifinals, but only Thompson advanced to the big final.

Pyeongchang silver medallist Brittany Phelan of Mont-Tremblant, Que., won the small final to finish fifth. Courtney Hoffos of Windermere, B.C., was sixth and Ottawa's Hannah Schmidt was seventh.

At the National Aquatics Centre, Brad Gushue fell to Sweden's Niklas Edin, 5-3, in the men's curling semifinals and will have to settle for playing for a bronze medal.

The Canadian team will meet the United States in the bronze-medal game. Sweden and Great Britain will battle it out Saturday for gold.

Earlier, Canada's Jennifer Jones crashed out of the tournament despite winning her final match of the preliminary round. 

Jones beat Denmark's Madeleine Dupont 10-4 in the round-robin finale, which temporarily kept her playoff hopes alive. 

But losses by Russia, Japan and South Korea sent Canada packing. 

Jones finished fifth in the 10-team standings with a 5-4 record. Britain and Japan, also at 5-4, advanced based on their better draw shot challenge (DSC) numbers.

"I've always enjoyed the tiebreaker games," said Canada vice Kaitlyn Lawes. "I don't think games should be decided based on one shot.

"Unfortunately we struggled with that this week. It's just the way it is."

In figure skating, Canada's Madeline Schizas finished the women's individual competition in 19th place.

Russia's Anna Shcherbakova, the overlooked world champion, delivered a clean performance in her free skate at historic Capital Indoor Stadium to win a stunning gold medal, while teammate Kamila Valieva — at the centre of the latest Russian doping controversy — tumbled out of the medals altogether with a mistake-filled end to her Olympic dream.

Another Russian skater, Alexandra Trusova, claimed silver and Kaori Sakamoto of Japan grabbed bronze.

It was a solid day for Canada at the Genting Snow Park, with all six Canadians — women and men — advancing to their respective finals in freeski halfpipe. 

On the women's side, Rachael Karker of Erin, Ont., was second in qualifying behind China's Eileen Gu. Cassie Sharpe from Comox, B.C., placed sixth and Calgary's Amy Fraser finished 11th. 

"I think I did well, I'm super happy to make the finals and to put a good run down," said Karker.

For the men, Calgary's Brendan Mackay was the top Canadian in fifth, ahead of Noah Bowman, also of Calgary, in sixth. Simon d’Artois from Whistler, B.C., placed eighth.

"I feel really good, the pipe is fantastic and everyone is skiing super well and I'm very happy to put down my runs," said Mackay.

The top-12 athletes in both the women's and men's qualification runs advanced to the finals.

At the National speedskating Oval, Alexa Scott of Clandeboye, Man., came in 12th in the women's 1,000 metres while Maddison Pearman of Ponoka, Alta., finished 26th.

Miho Takagi of Japan took home the gold — her fourth speedskating medal of the Beijing Games.

In women's alpine combined, Roni Remme of Collingwood, Ont., failed to complete the downhill portion of the event and did not move on to the final.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 17, 2022.

The Canadian Press