When the Games head overseas, the United States and Canada’s gold medal hopes head south
Are the 2014 Sochi Olympics going to be a disappointing tournament for the two North American countries? If the trends continue, you can bet on it.
Although Canada and the United States were 1-2 at the Salt Lake City and Vancouver Games, neither country medalled in 1998 in Nagano, Japan, or 2006 in Turin, Italy. In ’98, the Canadians finished fourth and the Americans sixth. Eight years later they dropped to seventh and eighth.
The pattern goes deeper than rink dimensions, since the Salt Lake Games were played on an international-size ice surface. It’s all about location. Over the past five World Championships, all played in Europe, the Canadians and Americans have combined for one silver medal and one bronze.
Despite Canada and the U.S. treating fans to an edge-of-your-seat overtime final in 2010, they aren’t the wisest choices to take home gold in Sochi. Couple their recent overseas history with the fact the two countries head into the event ranked No. 5 and No. 6 by the IIHF and they aren’t the best choices even to medal.
The competition will be tight between the elite contestants and that’s why past performances – and perhaps trends – need to be considered when trying to pick favorites this early.
If there’s such a thing as smart money these days, it’s on Finland finishing in the top three. Since NHLers began participating in the Olympics in 1998, the Finns have earned more medals in men’s hockey than any other nation: one silver, two bronze.
This feature originally appeared in The Hockey News magazine. Get in-depth features like this one, and much more, by subscribing now.