Ice Hockey

Facts

Discipline of Ice Hockey
Participants 4215
NOCs 37
Competitions held 30 (Venues)
Distinct events 7
IF International Ice Hockey Federation

Description

Ice hockey is a Canadian sport that began in the early 19th century. Around 1860, a puck was substituted for a ball, and in 1879, two McGill University students, W. F. Robertson and R. F. Smith, devised the first rules, combining field hockey and rugby regulations. Originally the game was played nine to a side. The sport became the Canadian national sport with leagues everywhere. In 1894, Lord Stanley of Preston, Governor-General of Canada, donated the Stanley Cup that was first won in 1894 by a team representing the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association.

Ice hockey was contested at the 1920 Summer Olympics at Antwerp, held in early April. These were also the first World Championships and were played by seven-man sides, the only time seven-man teams played in the Olympics. In 1924, the Olympics began using the current standard of six men on the ice at a time.

Ice hockey has been held at every Olympic Winter Games. Canada dominated early Olympic ice hockey tournaments as might be expected. In 1956, the Soviet Union first entered the Olympic Winter Games and won the ice hockey tournament quite handily. It was the pre-eminent country until its political division, its dominance interrupted only by major upset victories by the United States in 1960 and 1980.

Professionalism has always been a consideration in Olympic ice hockey. Canada dominated the early years of Olympic hockey, despite not being able to use their pros. When the Soviet Union came in in 1956, and assumed that dominance, Canada was quite upset, claiming that the Soviet ice hockey players were amateurs in name only, which was likely correct. Canada then boycotted the Olympic ice hockey tournament, not sending a team in 1972 or 1976. Finally, in the late 1980s some professionals were allowed to compete in Olympic ice hockey, and in 1998, all players from the National Hockey League (NHL) became eligible. In fact, the NHL shuts down for slightly over two weeks in mid-season to allow its players to compete at the Olympics.

Women’s ice hockey appeared for the first time on the Olympic Program in 1998 at Nagano. The sport is governed by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), which was founded on 15 May 1908, and had 68 affiliated nations as of June 2010. Twelve athletes (six men, six women) have won four Olympic medals in ice hockey, with 40 winning three medals through 2010. Fourteen players have three gold medals, six from the former Soviet Union men’s teams, and eight from Canada’s women’s teams.

Presidents of the International Ice Hockey Federation:

All-time medal table

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
Canada CAN 13 6 3 22
Soviet Union URS 7 1 1 9
United States USA 4 11 2 17
Sweden SWE 2 4 5 11
Czech Republic CZE 1 0 1 2
Great Britain GBR 1 0 1 2
Olympic Athletes from Russia OAR 1 0 0 1
Unified Team EUN 1 0 0 1
Czechoslovakia TCH 0 4 4 8
Finland FIN 0 2 7 9
Germany GER 0 1 1 2
Russian Federation RUS 0 1 1 2
Switzerland SUI 0 0 3 3
West Germany FRG 0 0 1 1

Most successful competitors

Athlete Nat Gold Silver Bronze Total
Jayna Hefford CAN 4 1 0 5
Hayley Wickenheiser CAN 4 1 0 5
Caroline Ouellette CAN 4 0 0 4
Vladislav Tretyak URS 3 1 0 4
Jennifer Botterill CAN 3 1 0 4
Becky Kellar CAN 3 1 0 4
Meghan Agosta CAN 3 1 0 4
Vitaly Davydov URS 3 0 0 3
Anatoly Firsov URS 3 0 0 3
Andrey Khomutov URS
EUN
3 0 0 3
Viktor Kuzkin URS 3 0 0 3
Aleksandr Ragulin RUS
URS
3 0 0 3
Cherie Piper CAN 3 0 0 3
Colleen Sostorics CAN 3 0 0 3
Kim St-Pierre CAN 3 0 0 3
Gillian Apps CAN 3 0 0 3
Charlie Labonté CAN 3 0 0 3

Event types

Name Gender Still contested? Times held?
Ice Hockey Men 24
Ice Hockey Women 6
Ice Hockey Boys 3
Skills Challenge Boys 2
Ice Hockey Girls 3
Skills Challenge Girls 2
Ice Hockey Exhibition Men 5