Canadian defenceman Jocelyne Larocque says she got caught up in the emotion of Thursday’s devastating shootout loss to the United States in the Olympic women’s hockey final and regrets taking off her silver medal almost immediately after it was placed around her neck.
In a statement Friday, Larocque apologized to the IOC, International Ice Hockey Federation, the Pyeongchang Olympic Organizing Committee, the Canadian Olympic Committee, Hockey Canada and her teammates and fans.
She said she meant no disrespect.
“In the moment, I was disappointed with the outcome of the game, and my emotions got the better of me,” she said.
“I’m proud of our team, and proud to be counted among the Canadian athletes who have won medals at these Games.
“Being on the podium at the world’s biggest sporting event is a great achievement and one that I’m thankful I was able to experience with my teammates.”
Most Canadian players were fighting tears as they waited in line to get their medals following the gut-wrenching 3-2 loss. As soon as the medal was placed around Larocque’s neck, she removed it.
The image was captured on television and then shared widely on social media with some users accusing Larocque of being a poor sport.
She said she wished she could take the moment back.
“I take seriously being a role model to young girls and representing our country,” she said. “My actions did not demonstrate the values our team, myself and my family live and for that I am truly sorry.”
Melody Davidson, the general manager of the women’s program at Hockey Canada, said Larocque was “very remorseful.”
“Emotions run high at the Olympic Games, and never more so than in a gold-medal game, but at all times we expect our program to act professionally and demonstrate sound sportsmanship,” said Davidson. “I’m proud of our team and the work all of the players and staff have put in throughout this journey.”
The loss ended Canada’s run of four straight women’s hockey gold medals at the Olympics.
Larocque was told after the medal ceremony she was violating championship regulations by removing her medal, International Ice Hockey Federation communications manager Adam Steiss told The Canadian Press in an email.
Championship regulations state: “The medals have to be worn by the players around the neck in respectful manner for the duration of the closing ceremony and the following post-game mixed zone and media conference procedures.
“Any infraction of that rule will be reported to the IIHF disciplinary board and could result in additional disciplinary sanctions.”
It’s not the first time Hockey Canada has apologized after a women’s final at the Olympics.
At the 2010 Games in Vancouver, the organization issued a statement apologizing for on-ice celebrations by the women’s team that included beer drinking and cigar-smoking.
While many athletes celebrate a silver-medal performance, it can be hard to swallow in a team sport because it feels like the a consolation prize for a loss as opposed to a second-place finish.
Last month, Swedish captain Lias Andersson created controversy when he tossed his medal into the stands after his team lost to Canada at the world junior hockey championships last month in Buffalo, N.Y. He said the fan wanted it more than him.
Former Canadian women’s soccer coach John Herdman also parted with his silver medal after losing to the U.S. in the the final of the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship in 2016, giving it to a fan in the crowd.
“I don’t play this (game) for medals,” he said at the time. “Not silver ones anyway.”