Swedes satisfied with hockey silver

One win over a North American side was sensational; two would have been miraculous. But reality prevailed in the Olympic women's ice hockey final on Monday as Sweden lost to reigning champions Canada.

Cherie Piper scored her tournament-leading seventh goal in the 4-1 victory. Jayna Hefford had a goal and an assist, Caroline Ouellette and Gillian Apps scored once each for heavily-favoured Canada.

Sweden was the bronze medallist from 2002 and were one of the top seeds in Turin but they were second-best to Canada at the Palasport Olimpico arena.

Canada dominated from the opening faceoff using their superior speed and strength to overpower the Swedes, who were playing in the first gold medal game in Swedish women’s hockey history.

Sweden were also trounced by Canada 8-1 in the preliminary round.

Charline Labonte made seven saves for Canada to record her third straight victory of the tournament.

She had her consecutive shutout streak snapped at 125 minutes when Sweden’s Gunilla Andersson scored early in the third period to make it 4-1. Labonte had blanked Russia (12-0) and Finland (6-0) in earlier games.

At the other end, Kim Martin stopped 20 shots for Sweden.

Canada had expected to meet the United States in the final as they had squared off in 11 previous major international and Olympic competitions since the first World Championship in 1990.

But Sweden finally broke that stranglehold by stunning the US 3-2 in a shootout on Friday to become the first European nation to defeat one of the North American giants.

Canada entered the final with 13 players who won gold in 2002 and the three top scorers in the Turin tournament (Hayley Wickenheiser, Piper and Apps).

They finished with a 5-0 record, outscoring their opponents 46-2.

Canada finished second behind the United States when women’s hockey made its debut in the 1998 Nagano Olympics.

But they avenged that loss with a 3-2 win over the Americans in the gold medal game at Salt Lake City.

Apps drew first blood for Canada at 3:15 of the opening period with a soft backhand from 10 feet out that fooled Martin.

Hefford set up Ouellette for the second goal with a long pass from the left side boards that Ouellette redirected past Martin at 12:13 of the first.

In the middle of the second period the puck flew into the Swedish bench and into the hands of coach Peter Elander who quickly slipped the Olympic souvenir into his pocket.

And that’s about as close as the Swedish team got to the puck all night.

Piper scored the third of the game for Canada, at the nine minute mark of the second. Hayley Wickenheiser circled behind the net before finding Piper all alone in front.

Hefford scored at 10:27 of the second to make it 4-0.

Sweden’s built on the success of a bronze in Salt Lake City to have a breakthrough tournament in Italy.

For members


The year Sweden organized the Olympics and defied expectations

Stockholm Olympic Stadium defied those who said Sweden wasn't advanced enough to host the Olympic Games in 1912, and has survived to become the world's oldest Olympic stadium actively in use.

The year Sweden organized the Olympics and defied expectations
Stockholm's Olympic Stadium as it used to look. Photo: Bertil Norberg/TT

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Taking inspiration from the medieval city wall of Visby on the Swedish island of Gotland, Swedish architect and athlete Torben Grut designed a stadium for the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm that would stand as a fortress of athleticism.

His success was both immediate and enduring, and the now-historic stadium has lived up to its impressive façade for more than a century, hosting countless sporting and cultural events, witnessing more than 80 athletic world records, surviving a bombing, and simply reminding the world of its important place in Olympic history.

Initially, however, the outlook for both the stadium and the Stockholm Olympics – the fifth modern Olympic games – was far from promising. As historian Therese Nordlund Edvinsson wrote in a 2014 article in The International Journal of the History of Sport, despite Sweden's “modest ambitions” for the games, “critics argued that the country was too undeveloped to arrange a major sport event”.


Djurgården versus AIK in 1915 at Stockholm Stadium. Photo: TT

The original plan for the stadium was an accordingly modest – and temporary – whitewashed wooden structure. The decision to make it permanent was likely a relief to Grut, whose other designs included Solliden Palace, the summer residence of the Swedish royal family on the island of Öland. Though still relatively small, with an original seating capacity of around 20,000, the completed stadium became a model for subsequent Olympic stadiums. Likewise, and in defiance of the critics, the Stockholm Olympic Games were considered a great success.  

In a 2012 article entitled, “Stockholm 1912 set the gold standard for the modern Olympics,” in the British newspaper The Guardian, sports journalist Frank Keating wrote, “Stockholm's 1912 Games are still considered standard-setting for Olympic decades to come. Women's competition was allowed for swimming and diving, while men's boxing was banned: and on the track photo-finish electronic-timing was introduced as a back-up to the hand-held judges' stopwatch.” It was also, he explained, “the last Olympics where any individual could just turn up and hope to enter a competition”.


One of the numerous concerts organized at the Stockholm Stadium. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Over the years, the appearance of Stockholm Olympic Stadium has changed little, and the seating capacity has even been reduced. In 2011 and 2012, the stadium underwent its only major renovation in preparation for its centenary. Nonetheless, it has been an incredibly adaptable venue, serving for many years as home to Swedish football team Djurgårdens IF, and accommodating a wide variety of sporting and cultural events – from ice hockey to American football and from Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti to Swedish DJ Avicii. It is also where the Stockholm Marathon ends each year.

The stadium has also maintained a long and at times somewhat chequered connection to the Olympic Games. In 1956, for instance, the equestrian events of the Summer Olympics taking place in Melbourne, Australia, were hosted some 15,000 kilometres away in Stockholm Olympic Stadium due to animal quarantine restrictions in Australia. And in August 1997, as Stockholm vied to host the 2004 Summer Olympics, the stadium was one of several sites in Sweden bombed or set alight by Swedish far-right extremists opposed to Sweden hosting the games.

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Although modern stadiums designed or used for the Summer Olympics now typically seat three to four times more people than Stockholm Olympic Stadium did in 1912, the historic venue still has a chance of returning to its Olympic origins. If Stockholm-Åre is selected to host the Winter Olympics in 2026, the snowboarding competitions are slated to take place in the landmark stadium, neatly tying together 114 years of Olympic history.

Victoria Martínez is an American historical researcher, writer and author of three historical non-fiction books. She lives in Småland county, Sweden, with her Spanish husband and their two children.