Four Big Red women to reach for Olympic ice hockey gold with Team Canada
Women's ice hockey has been part of the last four Olympic Winter Games, and in that time two former Big Red players earned the opportunity to represent their country: Dana Antal (2002) and Rebecca Johnston '12 (2010), who both won gold medals with Team Canada.
This year Cornell fans have double the reason to chant "CAN-A-DA" as four Big Red players -- Johnston, Laura Fortino '13, Lauriane Rougeau '13 and senior Brianne Jenner -- will represent Team Canada at the Sochi games as it seeks its fourth consecutive gold medal.
The quartet consists of the most decorated players in Cornell history. Rougeau is the only four-time All-American in Cornell program history, while Fortino and Johnston are both three-time selections and Jenner has one All-American accolade to her credit. Despite all the awards, each brings something unique to the Team Canada roster.
"Rebecca at forward is a pure skater who has great power and can beat opponents with her speed," says Cornell head coach Doug Derraugh '91. "Brianne is a big power forward with fast hands and great vision to make plays and set up her teammates.
"On the defensive end, Laura and Lauriane are outstanding, but each bring a little different style. Laura is a smaller defender, but she is a great skater, which allows her to be creative on offense and still be responsible on defense. Lauriane is more defensive-oriented. She's very methodical and steady but also possesses great passing and puck skills offensively."
Johnston has been a part of Canada's national team since 2007 and becomes the only player in Big Red women's ice hockey history to participate in two Olympics, having won a gold medal at Vancouver four years ago. One of the youngest members of Team Canada in 2010, she played in all five games and finished with one goal and five assists.
Jenner was the youngest player to be centralized by Team Canada (living together in Calgary for a six-month training/tryout period) prior to the Vancouver games and survived until the final roster cut prior to the Olympics.
"It was great for me to have that experience," says Jenner. "Obviously it gave me a little extra motivation. Once you experience that letdown of being cut, you remember the feeling and it stays with you."
Rougeau and Fortino skated in the same defensive pairing throughout their careers on East Hill and left the program as the greatest (+150) and second greatest (+142) plus/minus players in team history.
"I think it's awesome that my defensive partner for four years at Cornell is now my partner for the Olympic team," says Fortino. "I was so happy that we were both able to achieve our dream together. … It's key to have chemistry, and for me and Lauriane we certainly have that chemistry out on the ice and it helps our game tremendously."
Rougeau agrees that playing with three former teammates helps not only on the ice but with the entire process. "We have been through a lot together, and this is another part of our journey," she says.
"Being able to represent my country at the Olympics has been a dream of mine since I was a young girl, and to finally achieve that goal was truly an amazing feeling," says Fortino.
"[When I was told I made the team] I was in shock," adds Rougeau. "It took me a couple of seconds to realize that I made the Olympic team. It was probably one of the most nerve-racking days of my life but also one of the best days of my life."
Team Canada will begin the defense of its gold medal when it faces Switzerland in the preliminary round Saturday, Feb. 8, at 8 a.m. EST.
Cornellians at Sochi
The total number of Cornell athletes heading to Sochi stands at six, as bobsledders Jamie Greubel '06 and Chris Langton '12 will represent Team USA. Greubel, a former women's track and field athlete for the Big Red, earned a roster spot after claiming five World Cup medals leading up to the games and finishing as the second-ranked driver in the world. A former Cornell men's lacrosse player, Langton was chosen as one of two replacement athletes and will travel to Sochi and continue to practice with the team.