The Winter Olympics are here, and like any good international event operating under the threat of nuclear proliferation, it’s got plenty of Badgers to keep your eyes on.
There are 14 current or former Badgers coaching or competing in the games for three different countries: The US, Korea and Canada.
Unfortunately, we have none competing in real sports like curling or the biathlon (James Bond ski scene without the murder). Instead, we will have to settle for Olympic Hockey. It is too bad, the real world applications pale in comparison with the sweeping skills taught by Canada’s past time, curling.
Coach Granato is like the father that told his kids he was going out for a cigarette and never came back. Except, instead of a cigarette, he’s going to coach the Olympics, and instead of his kids it’s a team of highly talented Division I hockey players. Also, hopefully he comes back.
Granato is in his second year as the head coach for the No. 17 University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team and with four games left in the season, they are looking to make a push for the NCAA Tournament.
Granato played for Wisconsin back in the 80’s before a successful 13-year NHL career.
This will be Granato’s first Olympics as the U.S. National Team Coach
Granato’s assistant will be Chris Chelios. In 2017, he was named one of the “100 Greatest NHL Players” in history at an NHL All-Star event. Chelios had a storied 26-season career in the league following his stint at Wisconsin in the early 80s.
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Two former Badgers will play on the Canadian team in South Korea: Cody Goloubef and Rene Bourque. They are both former NHL players currently playing in other professional leagues and were chosen because the NHL has decided not to allow its players to play in the Olympics this year.
Bourque was a Badger captain in 2004-05 and Goloubef was a standout defenseman that helped win the WCHA title in 2009-10.
Rebecca Baker, a two-year player at Wisconsin, will be the assistant coach on the historic joint North Korean and South Korean team.
Meaghan Duggan, Brianna Decker, Hillary Knight and Alex Rigsby will be leading the US Women’s Team and representing the very best Wisconsin has to offer.
On Team Canada four recent graduates: Meaghan Mikkelson, Ann-Renée Desbiens, Blayre Turnbull and Sarah Nurse will join up with Emily Clark, who plans to return next year for her senior season at UW.
If you like watching Badgers compete on the highest level, women’s hockey will be the event you need to keep an eye on this year. In all 18 World Championships, the gold medal match has featured the U.S. versus Canada. Odds are this event will be chock-full of Badgers till the very end.