For Korean Hockey Team, Japan is actually Both Measuring Stick as well as Nemesis

In hockey, a much different kind of divide has existed. Long in Japan’s shadow, the Korean Ice Hockey Association invested heavily in building up its women’s hockey program for the 2018 Games. As the host nation, the Korean team earned automatic qualification.

the idea has matured significantly under Sarah Murray, the Canadian-born coach hired in 2014. South Korea spent the last two years challenging top American college teams, as well as the idea captured a second-division world championship last year.

Still, Murray has often had to remind her team of which there are various other Olympic opponents besides Japan — the idea lost its first two games, against Switzerland as well as Sweden, each by 8-0 — even as she has come to understand how desperately her players want to beat Japan on Wednesday.

“This particular is actually my dream for my hockey life,” said Korea’s captain, Park Jong-ah, who has played on the national team since she was 14.


Korea’s team before playing a game against Quinnipiac University in December in Connecticut. The Koreans played a challenging pre-Olympic schedule in North America as preparation for the Games.

Chang W. Lee/The fresh York Times

As the top women’s hockey power in Asia, Japan is actually not only a rival, the idea is actually Korea’s measuring stick for success. Japan also lost to Sweden as well as Switzerland in their opening two games inside the Olympic tournament, yet by scores of 2-1 as well as 3-1.

, The improvement of the South Korean team could help Japan improve, by lifting the quality of play inside the region. In November, at one of Japan’s final pre-Olympic training camps, goaltender Nana Fujimoto noted similarities in their programs’ ascent.

“Japan has not always been on This particular level,” she said. “We came via the bottom.”

South Korea’s rise has been much swifter. Japan gained an automatic bid into the inaugural Olympic women’s hockey tournament as the host nation for the 1998 Games in Nagano, yet the idea finished last inside the tournament as well as did not qualify for another Olympics until 2014.

The Japanese want to beat Korea to help in their quest to gain more funding for the team long known as Smile Japan. of which will be more difficult than the idea was inside the days of 29-goal obliterations, yet even for an enhanced Korea, the Japanese still present a steep hill to climb.

“They’re smaller, they’re fast as well as they work actually hard,” Korea forward Randi Heesoo Griffin said last week. s “If we can keep growing as a team, of which’s a product for us. of which’s what we’ll look like in all 5 or 10 years.

“Or maybe in all 5 days.”

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