The Canadian women’s hockey team just had to settle for silver, but one player couldn’t keep it around her neck.
Team USA defeated its longtime archrival Canada 3-2 in a tension-packed tiebreaker shootout on Thursday. Some Canadian hockey players wept, but the loss was especially crushing for Jocelyne Larocque. After the post-game ceremony, defense powerhouse Larocque could only stand to look at the silver draped around her neck for a few seconds before she yanked it off and held it in her hands.
“It’s just hard,” the 2014 Sochi gold medalist said after the event. “You work so hard. We wanted gold but didn’t get it.”
But Laroque didn’t have much time to grieve for Team Canada’s lost gold. An official from the International Ice Hockey Federation intercepted the defender on her way to the locker room and informed her that she was obligated to wear the medal according to IIHF rules, Canada’s Globe and Mail reported. Asked later if the silver medal, then hanging from her neck, was any consolation, Laroque said said “once we reflect. But now, not at the moment.”
Second place can make some of the fiercest competitors glow with pride. But for a champ from Canada, silver just doesn’t cut it. That’s because Canada has gotten used to dominating the Olympics, scooping up the golden hardware every last time since the U.S. secured the first-ever women’s ice hockey gold medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. This was the first shootout in Olympic women’s hockey history.
Larocque released a statement on Friday apologizing to the International Olympic Committee, the IIHF, and Pyeongchang organizing bodies, saying that she “meant no disrespect” when she hastily removed the medal on the ice. “In the moment, I was disappointed with the outcome of the game, and my emotions got the better of me,” Laroque said. “I’m proud of our team, and proud to be counted among the Canadian athletes who have won medals at these games.”
But Olympic watchers online were obsessed with Larocque’s initial, authentic reaction. Some have criticized her move as poor sportsmanship, while others defend her reaction.