Few understand the journey to becoming an Olympian, and of those few, a fraction understands the journey to becoming a gold medalist. It's hard! Winning gold is fun, but the preparation is not! There have been 7 Olympic gold medal games for women's hockey since 1998; USA and Canada have faced off against each other in 6 of them. Anything less than gold is considered a failure.
Dedicating four years for one game is what makes the journey extraordinary. Competing in world championships and rivalry series throughout the years between Olympics is essential for progressing physically and mentally. The ultimate goal is the gold medal game at the Olympics, it's what it all comes down to, it's what makes it all worth it.
As an athlete trying to reach their dream and going for one of the highest honors sports has to offer, nothing should get in the way of that. I've learned throughout my career that no matter how you're feeling, if you're selected to wear your countries colors, you must have 100% buy-in in every aspect of development. Win or lose; if you can look in the mirror and know you truly did everything you could, then you might sleep a tiny bit better.
The two most prevailing feelings that I have had in my career were losing gold, but also winning gold. Both of those outcomes brought a distinct sense of motivation because when you win, it's the best feeling ever, and you never want it to leave your body. After losing, you never want to experience that feeling again. Losing hurts, but you need to let it sink in. You need to watch the celebration, dissect it, and take in that moment of pain because when you are training early in the morning and you're exhausted and sore – it's that feeling that will push you through.
Losing two gold medals in a row was the best thing that ever happened to me. It took getting my heart broken twice to understand the true meaning of discipline and sacrifice. Every decision and action I made throughout those 1460 days influenced the result in 2018. It changed my life for the better and made me realize that true magic happens when you consistently push yourself outside of your comfort zone.