Winter Olympics: countdown to Pyeongchang showdown

Will it be another gold-medal showdown between Canada and the U.S. at the Winter Olympics? (Kevin Light Photography/CBC)

Winter Olympics: countdown to Pyeongchang showdown

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The XXIII Winter Olympics are set to open in nine days in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and Canadians are getting ready to settle in for the viewing.

One of the best contests will be the ongoing rivalry between the Canadian and American Women’s hockey teams.

It’s expected that the two teams will play for the gold, barring an incredible unforeseen upset.

This sign held up by a fan of Natalie Spooner’s during a Canada-U.S. exhibition game in Edmonton in December is mostly correct — but only if you’re talking about the Olympics. (Kevin Light Photography/CBC)

This will be the fifth meet in the past six Olympic games.

The two powerhouse teams tend to alternate victories.

The U.S. team, probably the best team, has taken the last four IIHF Women’s World Hockey Championships, with Canada coming second.

But, Canada has won the last four Olympic Golds.

Canadian players, Rebecca Johnston and Meaghan Mikkelson have a theory about the timing.

“In Olympic years we spend a lot of time together,” Mikkelson says. “The adversity we go through as a group, all the games we play and the time we have to perfect our systems, all seem to benefit us. We cover everything and are 100 per cent prepared for the Olympic Games.”

“You have more time to build team chemistry,” Johnston adds. “I think in the United States a lot of their players play together in non-Olympic years, whereas we’re split up on four or five teams. It’s challenging to go to the world championship and only have a week to prepare.”

It will be interesting to see if the theory and the practice holds this year.

(With files from CBC)

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