TORONTO (AP) - It’s a secret Hayley Wickenheiser could no longer hide.
The Canadian women’s hockey star helped Canada win the gold medal at the Sochi Olympics despite playing with a broken foot.
The 35-year-old forward was wearing a walking boot on her left foot at the Hockey Hall of Fame on Tuesday when she was a guest speaker at a hockey summit.
“I’ve had a broken foot for about a year now so I’m trying to fix it,” Wickenheiser said. “I’m wearing this boot so I can avoid having that surgery, hopefully.
“I knew it was broken at the time (of Olympics). We just found out it was a little more serious break than we thought. It was just managing the pain.”
Wickenheiser did a masterly job of hiding the injury. There was never a hint or mention of it before the Sochi Games or even after Canada rallied for a 3-2 overtime victory over the U.S. in the gold medal game.
In an Olympic year Wickenheiser didn’t have the luxury of resting her foot, so she worked around it. Now, with the national team’s season over, she’s had her foot in the boot for the last two weeks, with six more to go.
“It’s kind of perfect timing to rest the foot and just be able to get healthy again,” she said. “I spent a lot of time on the bike versus running and did some work around trying to stabilize the foot.”
This is not new territory for Wickenheiser. She played in the 2006 Olympics with a broken wrist but was still the tournament’s top scorer and MVP. In 2008, Sports Illustrated included Wickenheiser on its list of the 25 toughest athletes.
Wickenheiser had two goals and three assists in five games at Sochi. She played a huge role in Canada’s overtime victory in the title game. Wickenheiser had a breakaway in the extra session but was taken down by American Hilary Knight.
Instead of granting Wickenheiser a penalty shot, the referee gave Knight a minor penalty. Marie-Philip Poulin, who forced overtime by scoring with 55 seconds remaining in regulation, had the power-play winner to give Canada its victory and fourth straight Olympic women’s hockey crown.
“It was a dramatic finish, probably one for the ages and something Canadians will never forget,” Wickenheiser said. “I won’t forget.”
Wickenheiser has won five Olympic medals - the other being silver from the 1998 Nagano Games. She’d like a shot at another while again shouldering the expectations Canadians have for their hockey players on the international stage.
“I think it’s fair,” Wickenheiser said. “We always say pressure is a privilege and you have an opportunity to win a gold medal because people think you can.”
Wickenheiser, however, is not completely sure she’ll be on the ice for the next Olympics arrive.
“I’ll probably go year by year, starting with next year’s world championship,” she said. “I still love to play. I think I can still play at a high level and be the player I want to be. So until I can’t do that anymore, I’ll keep playing.”
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