USA-Canada Rivalry Is as Heated as Ever, Which Makes the Olympics Much More Fun

Dan Levy@danlevythinksNational Lead WriterFebruary 17, 2014

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I got into a fight with a Canadian today. Well, not a fight so much as a Twitter spat over the Stanley Cup being held hostage in the Canada house during the Sochi Olympics.

The Stanley Cup, for you hockey-illiterate Americans, is the giant silver trophy given annually to the NHL champion, something a Canadian team has not been since 1993.

Two decades have passed since a team from north of the border last won the Stanley Cup, yet someone thought it would be an inspiration to the Canadian contingent to bring the cup all the way over to Russia to remind people that hockey belongs to them.

There was much more of that kind of back and forth, with a few other Canucks getting into the mix as well. The primary retort to the Stanley Cup comment is that more Canadians have won the trophy than Americans, even though all of the Cup-winning teams play their home games in America. American teams win all the titles, but Canadian players make up the best talent on those teams.

At least that's what the Canadians keep insisting.

Thankfully for us, the latest hockey border war doesn't have to be held exclusively in cyberspace. It can be held on the ice in Sochi.

The United States women's hockey team beat Sweden 6-1 to qualify for the gold medal game, facing a Canadian team that beat Switzerland 3-1 in the second semifinal on Monday. The gold medal match-up will be the fourth time in five Winter Olympics that Team USA and Canada face off to end the tournament.

It becomes just the latest in a long line of rivalry events between the Americans and Canadians at the Winter Olympics.

As per the official Sochi 2014 site, through the completion of the medal events on Monday, the Americans are tied atop the medal tally with 18 in all events. Canada has 15.

Certainly both lists will grow as the Olympics continue through the second week of competition, and the result of the women's hockey final and impending medal round of men's hockey will go a long way toward deciding which North American nation will bring home bragging rights with all their medals.

What makes the Olympic rivalry so grand is that not only do America and Canada share a physical border, but they share interest and competitive excellence in so many of the same events.

Thus far, Americans have medaled in 11 unique events in Sochi, and Canadians have medaled in six of those. It would be more if several Americans didn't keep Canadians off the Olympic podiums.

Erin Hamlin, for example, won bronze in women's luge, narrowly beating two Canadian racers for the medal. While Jamie Anderson's slopestyle gold medal didn't keep any Canadians directly off the podium, Canadian rider Spencer O'Brien did enter the event as the reigning world champion.

It was that ice dancing final, however, that seemed to create the most non-hockey vitriol online, with the Canadian pair of Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue falling in the free skate to Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White.

The decision has left many Canadian fans claiming the event was fixed, including the Toronto Sun's Rosie DiManno.

People take their ice dancing seriously in Canada, especially when the result comes at the hands—or skates—of the Americans.

But don't fret, Canada. The Olympic dominance has worked both ways, and more than Americans care to recall.

Team USA won bronze in the team figure skating event, with Canada winning silver. The only slopestyle event the Americans did not win gold at Sochi was the women's ski slopestyle, when Devin Logan took home silver. The other two medals went to Canadians, as Dara Howell won gold and Kim Lamarre took bronze.

J. David Ake/Associated Press

In ladies moguls, American Hannah Kearney won bronze, beaten only by two Canadians in Justine and Chloe Dufour-Lapointe, respectively.

In the ladies snowboard cross, Canadian Dominique Maltais took silver, with American Faye Gulini placing fourth in an event American Lindsey Jacobellis seemed destined to win in Sochi before falling, again.

Canadian speed skater Denny Morrison won bronze and silver in the men's 1,500 meter and 1,000 meter, respectively, two events Americans thought were medal locks with world-record holder Shani Davis and medal hopeful Brian Hansen both competing.

The curling teams for Canada are both serious medal hopefuls while the two American teams finished at the bottom of the rankings, helped in part by narrow losses to their neighbors to the north by a matter of inches.

Bruce Bennett/Associated Press

It's unlikely the Canadians will pass the Americans in overall medals, given the events still to come in Sochi and the sheer overwhelming number of competitors the Americans sent over to Russia this month. Still, the hockey medals are worth a dozen golds.

If the Canadians can sweep the hockey golds, beating the United States in the process, it would give fans up north four more years of bragging rights. Forget about the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, Vancouver Canucks or Ottawa Senators winning the Stanley Cup. A gold medal in men's hockey is worth at least four Stanley Cups.

Imagine, then, what it would be like to lose the gold medal to the Americans. The Canadian women already beat the U.S. in the preliminary round in the most hard-fought game of the entire tournament. Can Team USA get revenge on Thursday?

Moreover, can the U.S. men's hockey team get revenge over losing in overtime in the 2010 gold medal game? Team USA and Team Canada would face off in the semifinals this time around, which, if both teams win their respective quarterfinals, will take place on Friday.

If it seems like the USA-Canada Olympic rivalry is heated already, it might melt the ice by the end of the week.