The players of the U.S. women’s ice hockey team didn’t get a 2020 world championship tournament to prove its dominance on the ice for the sixth time in a row, but as the world’s top-ranked team, they have officially qualified Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022.
The six highest ranked teams following the completion of the world championships directly qualify for the Games. With the tournament canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, Team USA did not budge from its top position, nor did the teams in second through sixth.
Team USA will get its world championship shot next year in Nova Scotia, Canada. But players can also start looking forward to defending their Olympic gold medal won in PyeongChang in 2018. The memories of that thrilling shootout victory are still fresh for players and fans alike, with Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson firing home the winner in the sixth round of the shootout to win a long-awaited second gold medal for Team USA.
The U.S. women have participated in every Olympic tournament since women’s ice hockey debuted in Nagano in 1998. Team USA won that first gold medal, inspiring a new generation of women’s hockey players in the United States, including many of the players who brought the gold back home 20 years later.
Team USA has medaled in every Olympic tournament thus far, earning either gold or silver every time except 2006, when it won the bronze medal. The gold-medal game in all but that tournament has come down to the U.S. and Canada, forming one of the fiercest rivalries in the sport. Every world championship since the tournament debuted in 1990 has also come down to the two countries, with Canada currently holding the lead 10-9.
There will have two more teams to deal with in 2022, as the tournament expands from eight countries to 10.
Joining the U.S. will be Canada, Finland, Russia and Switzerland in Group A. Japan rounds out the world’s top six and is in Group B. Also playing in that pool will be host China, leaving three more teams to be determined in a final qualification tournament, currently scheduled for February 2021.
As for the U.S. men, they already qualified for Beijing based on the world ranking following the 2019 world championships. In sixth place, Team USA is in Group A with Canada, Germany and China. Russia, Czech Republic and Switzerland are in Group B, with Finland and Sweden in C. Three more teams will be determined later this year.