With Canada and Team USA facing off against weak opponents in Slovakia and China, respectively, the opening round of the women’s hockey competition has seen the two countries win by a combined margin of 30-1.
That doesn’t exactly make for a thrilling start to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.
Still, there’s just something about seeing the Red, White and Blue on ice.
In a Sunday afternoon matchup, Team USA dominated from the moment the puck was dropped, cruising to an easy 12-1 victory over a weaker, less-experienced China.
Out of a possible 30 points, current or former members of the Wisconsin women’s hockey team accounted for six points in Team USA’s rout of China.
One former Badger standout, however, was missing from the ice Sunday: goaltender and Patty Kazmeier award-winner Jessie Vetter. With China not expected to challenge Team USA in the opening round, Vetter watched as teammates Molly Schaus and Brianne McLaughlin combined to hold China to just one goal.
Last week, The Badger Herald caught up with Vetter to discuss the Vancouver Games.
The Badger Herald: Now that you’ve arrived, how are you enjoying Vancouver and the Olympic Village?
Jessie Vetter: It’s definitely pretty cool just being at the Olympics in general. And now, being able to see the Village and all the work they’ve put into it, they’ve done a great job. It’s just definitely a very nice facility that we’re enjoying being at right now.
BH: Overall, what has your experience been like so far with Team USA since the Qwest Tour began in September?
JV: It’s definitely been a great experience. I never thought that I would have the opportunity to wear the Team USA jersey and wear those colors. It’s definitely special every time I’m able to put on the jersey. So, I’m just soaking it all in and enjoying every moment.
BH: Looking back to about a month ago, could you reflect on the game against Wisconsin?
JV: It was a little different just coming out of the different end of the ice and obviously wearing the different jersey. But it was great to be back at the Kohl Center. Obviously, a lot of us on the team are former Badgers, so it was a nice homecoming for all of us.
BH: A couple weeks ago, you had another sort of homecoming as well when a number of people from your hometown gathered for a send-off. What was that like for you?
JV: Before I went to Colorado Springs, pre-Vancouver, the Monona Grove school district put together a little send-off for me, so I went to every school within the district and then the high school. They did a great job of putting it together, and it was awesome to see all the support they have for me. I’ll definitely be thinking of them when I’m here in Vancouver trying to play my best.
BH: Did you get to see the Camp Randall Hockey Classic last weekend?
JV: I didn’t have a chance to see the game, but I definitely looked at some pictures and it looked like the girls had some good attendance and the guys’ game just looked unbelievable. It definitely looked like a great event and that’s just what the University of Wisconsin does. That’s a big part of why I went there and it looked like a great event to be a part of.
BH: Has it hit you yet that the Olympics are starting this weekend?
JV: It definitely has not hit us yet. I think once we are able to walk in the opening ceremonies and get our first game under our belts, then it’ll definitely be a little surreal that we’re at the Olympics and representing the United States. We still have to pinch ourselves every once in a while because we don’t believe that we’re at the Olympics even though we’re enjoying ourselves and enjoying every moment.
BH: How does it make you feel to not only represent the United States, but also represent your home state of Wisconsin and the UW?
JV: It’s definitely a great honor to represent Wisconsin. I’m born and raised in Wisconsin and I love the University of Wisconsin. Hopefully I’ll be able to make everyone proud.
BH: How much have you talked to your coach, Mark Johnson, about his experience with Team USA in 1980?
JV: I haven’t talked to Coach Johnson about being from Wisconsin and representing your country. But from hearing all of his stories and what he went through in 1980, I know it definitely meant a lot to him to represent Wisconsin. And it means a lot to me as well, and hopefully I can do my best.
BH: Do you feel any pressure at all to bring back the gold medal for Team USA?
JV: I don’t know if we feel pressure. We definitely want to play our best and have an opportunity to be in the gold medal game, but we’re just trying to play some good hockey. If we end up bringing the gold or silver or bronze home — as long as we play our best, we’ll be happy with whatever the results are. I’m not going to lie to you though, we’re definitely shooting for that gold medal.
If everything goes according to plan, Vetter and Team USA will likely face off with Canada on Feb. 25, at Canada Hockey Place. When the two countries last played in that venue, Vetter recorded 35 saves as Team USA defeated Canada 2-1 to win the Hockey Canada Cup.
Hopefully, the Americans will be able to repeat that performance in 10 days.
Jordan is a senior majoring in journalism and political science. Will you be watching USA Hockey throughout the Olympics? Let him know at [email protected]