Covid-hit Russian women’s team earn first Beijing win
The Russian women’s ice hockey team put some major disruptions behind them to pick up an opening win against Switzerland at the Beijing Olympics.
The Russian team – competing under the banner of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) – was hit by a spate of positive Covid tests in the buildup to their opening encounter in the Chinese capital which severely disrupted their opportunities to train.
But still despite missing six players due to Covid protocols, the ROC team eventually eased past their Swiss rivals at the National Indoor Stadium thanks to a hattrick from Polina Bolgareva, who was making her Olympic debut.
“I think I just got lucky. In general my teammates did all the work for me, they gave me some great passes,” said the modest 22-year-old afterwards.
“It was the first game, we were really nervous. But today we had an active bench, we supported each other.”
Russian coach Evgeny Bobariko declared himself satisfied considering the tough preparations for the match as six of his squad remain in isolation.
“We played a good match. There were mistakes, we will correct them and improve our game,” said Bobariko.
“Due to the reduced squad, we even sometimes used attackers in defense when we played shorthanded.
“We know that Polina can take her chances… we are very happy for her, as well as for the whole team, which showed character. In difficult conditions, they showed good hockey.”
The result for the Swiss team meant a second defeat in two days after they were thrashed 12-1 by Canada in their opening match on Thursday.
Along with the US, the Canadians are favorites for the gold medal in Beijing while the ROC team are tipped as among the contenders to battle it out for bronze.
The ROC team next takes to the ice in Beijing on Saturday, when they play Group A rivals the US.