Several under-18 players from the Ontario Blue and Ontario Red teams received a special surprise during practice Tuesday, Oct. 8, as they got to try-on Team Canada’s brand new jerseys, which will be worn the country’s top players at Sochi 2014, on the very day that the newly designed Nike garments were unveiled to the public in Toronto, Ont.
The new jersey look stirred feelings of red and white pride within the players, reminding them of the ultimate goal – gold – whether it’s at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games next February, or the 2013 National Women’s Under-18 Championship this November.
“I wore the black jersey with the gold maple leaf, symbolizing the gold medal, which I really like,” Ontario Red netminder Ameila Boughn of Toronto, Ont., told hockeycanada.ca. “The ‘Canada’ on the front reminds me of what I’m playing for.”
Boughn’s teammates echoed similar sentiments, and even believe the unique jerseys may make for a competitive edge over opponents when Canada’s National Women’s Team wears them on the ice in Sochi, Russia.
“I like that they kept it simple and stayed true to the Canadian feel,” Ontario Red forward Kelly Mariani of Mississauga, Ont., said. “I like that they are fitted. They have a nice overall look, and they really focused on the small details.”
One of the personal touches Nike added to the jerseys are 12 gold maple leaves inside the collar to represent the number of Olympic and Paralympic gold medals won by Canada’s National Men’s Team, Canada’s National Women’s Team and Canada’s National Sledge Team. Nike, with decades of experience in designing sports gear for a variety of athletes, wanted to keep the traditional Team Canada look but incorporate a more comfortable feel for athletes.
“People don’t realize how light the jerseys feel, especially with the heavy equipment we have to wear,” Ontario Red defenceman Lauren Wildfang said. “When I put it on, I felt faster, and mentally, I felt more prepared and excited to wear a jersey so light.
“I really feel like it gives us an advantage because it doesn’t weigh as much as other ones and that can really help us when we’re facing a really tough team,” Wildfang said.
Boughn pointed out the ventilation zones under the arms, explaining the Olympic jerseys dry out faster than other hockey sweaters she has worn over her equipment. Not only are they designed to look sharp on the ice, but also to improve the performance of our players in their battle to defend Canada’s double gold.
“I think they could provide an advantage, especially since at the end of the game, you have a lot of ice on your jersey and it’s soaking wet. It makes it heavier and harder to move and more weight to carry,” Boughn said.
All of the Ontario Blue and Ontario Red players who got to try the new jerseys on for size felt comfortable while skating, even suggesting they may actually enhance their speed on the ice. They also prefer the fitted style and appreciate the design’s simplicity.
“I like that they are fitted, and I would rather wear a fitted jersey than not,” Boughn said. “It felt nice, the mesh under the arms was breathable, I wasn’t hot and there was no restriction in my play even though they are fitted.”
Ontario Blue and Ontario Red will pull on their own jerseys when they represent their province at the 2013 National Women’s Under-18 Championship this Nov. 6-10 in Calgary, Alta. For more feature stories leading up to the puck drop, throughout the five-day event and even after the final buzzer, check back here at www.hockeycanada.ca/nwu18 and follow us at www.facebook.com/womensu18 and www.twitter.com/hc_nwu18.