Eye on 2014: Angela Ruggiero aiming for fifth Olympic medal
Hockey player Angela Ruggiero has taken on a new Olympic role, as one of three U.S. members of the International Olympic Committee.
The post has the 31-year-old traveling the world, hobnobbing with top Olympic officials. But it doesn’t mean she’s walking away from the role she’s played in the last four Winter Games, as a member of the U.S. women’s hockey team.
Ruggiero, playing at the world championships beginning Saturday in Switzerland, is committed to another Olympic run.
“I took a little time off and decided that I wanted to try to get that gold back,” says Ruggiero, a defenseman who will be 34 when the 2014 Winter Olympics begin in Sochi, Russia.
Ruggiero and her U.S. teammates won Olympic gold in the 1998 Games in Nagano, where women’s hockey made its debut as an Olympic sport. The USA won silver in 2002, bronze in 2006 and another silver in 2010. Ruggiero was on each of those teams.
To complete her Olympic career with another gold in 2014 “would be, honestly, perfect,” Ruggiero says.After surgery on a nagging right shoulder injury following the 2010 Games, Ruggiero played this season for the Boston Blades, the first U.S.-based team in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League.
“Essentially it’s the best women’s hockey, post-grad, you’re going to find anywhere in the world,” she says.
Ruggiero and 32-year-old forward Jenny Potter are among 15 Olympians on the worlds team, which will be aiming for a three-peat after winning the last two titles.
“She has a calming effect on people, and it’s great to have her here,” U.S. coach Katey Stone says of Ruggiero. “And certainly it’s also nice to have her on the ice against some pretty tough competition.”
During the 2010 Olympics, Ruggiero was elected to an eight-year term on the IOC athletes’ commission. That automatically gave her an entry point to conversations with Olympic officials about the value of keeping women’s hockey on the Olympic program.
During the Vancouver Games, IOC President Jacques Rogge questioned whether that should be the case with so few countries (namely, the USA, Canada, Sweden and Finland) fielding highly competitive teams.
“Getting to meet some of the (IOC) members and talk about what we’re going through, I think is extremely important,” says Ruggiero, who adds that she is not worried about the Olympic future of women’s hockey.
It will be in the Olympics, she says. And, she hopes, so will she at least one more time.
“It would be nice to go out with the gold,” Ruggiero says. “That’s the plan.”