This article investigates the World Junior Hockey Championships, an international hockey tournament first held in 1974 and commonly associated with Canada as Canadian players have traditionally dominated the tournament, winning the most gold medals of any participating nation with 18. In contrast, the United States have won five gold medals. The last two decades have seen the rise of American success at the World Junior Hockey Championships, and since 2010 the Americans have won the same number of medals as the Canadians, including one more gold medal. Hockey is a large part of Canadian national identity and Canadians have felt threatened by the American influence on hockey since the 1970s. However, American dominance is on the rise and they have solidified themselves as Canada’s newest and now greatest rival in hockey. Canada is responsible for the recent American success at the World Junior Hockey Championships because it was Canada that set the bar of hockey excellence, forcing the Americans to create new development programs to succeed at the international level. Most notable of the development programs is USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program which was created in 1996 as an answer to the Canadian development programs of the Canadian Hockey League and the Program of Excellence. Consequently, Canada being responsible for the recent American success at the World Junior Hockey Championships signifies that Canada is still prevailing as a hockey nation even if they are not dominating the podium, something that is critical to a sometimes fragile Canadian national identity.
Setting the Expectation: How American Success at the World Junior Hockey Championships is a Canadian Product.
Undergraduate Review, 16, 119-138.
Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/undergrad_rev/vol16/iss2/13
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