In this decade, the increased focus on the women’s game, from competition to instruction, has resulted in the enrichment of its grass roots developmental levels. The foundation in place that Kristen Lipscombe saw evolve during her time with Hockey Canada resulted in the development of world-class talent at multiple levels, including at the Under-18 and Under-22 levels.
With the responsibility of media operations manager for the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, dynasty and destiny definitely collided for Lipscombe. As Hockey Canada assembled its final roster in the quest for a fifth straight gold medal at the Winter Games, which would have set an Olympic record (men’s and women’s), the evolution of the female game became most evident in PyeongChang.
This captivating growth has enjoyed a two-fold effect. An increase in the number of players and leagues simultaneously provided an unprecedented level of quality competition. Tying into Lipscombe’s tenure at Hockey Canada, she was privy to the unfolding narrative that saw the evolution of the National Under-18 championships, the IIHF Under-18 Women’s Worlds, plus the Esso Cup, Canada’s National Female Midget Championship.
From Canada Winter Games to nationals, along with the IIHF U18 and the summer time camps, Lipscombe literally saw these highly talented girls grow up on the ice, blossoming into world-class competitors. As a member of the media team at Hockey Canada, Lipscombe also served as a big sister. Teaching a group of highly talented adolescent competitors about media relations, this gathering of ingénues became much more confident to explore a much larger world.
Players on Canada’s roster at the 2018 Winter Gamers, such as Bailey Bram, Ann-Renée Desbiens, Renata Fast, Sarah Nurse, Jillian Saulnier and Laura Stacey, among others, had collectively honed their skills at multiple levels of the national team’s developmental ladder. From exhibition play versus their eternal American rivals at the U18 and U22 levels, along with global competition at the IIHF U18 worlds and the Meco (later MLP Nations) Cup, Lipscombe shared in the privilege of representing Hockey Canada with these aforementioned stars.
Undoubtedly, the commitment to professionalism stood as the cornerstone of Lipscombe’s experience in South Korea. Appreciating the game from an impartial perspective, it allowed her to focus on the key objective of providing world-class coverage of the most prestigious tournament in 2018. Understandably, there was a sense of pride, akin to a big sister, having seen players she knew from younger years play for the biggest prize in women’s ice hockey: Olympic gold.
“Yes, I already knew all of the players on Team Canada, as well as many from competing countries, at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, as a result of my time working with them while at Hockey Canada and the Canadian Women’s Hockey League. I served as media relations coordinator for Canada’s National Women’s Under-18 Team, Canada’s National Women’s Under-22 Team and Canada’s National Women’s Development Team over the course of five years, so really I consider most of those players to be my own teammates, as we had all travelled to various world championships and other international events, working together closely, participating in team bonding activities and even winning a few gold medals along the way!”
“I also led media relations for many other major women’s hockey events, such as the National Women’s Under-18 Championship and the Esso Cup, Canada’s National Female Midget Championship, during my Hockey Canada days, so I had worked with most of those players in various capacities over the years,” she explained.
“In fact, when I was at Hockey Canada, I had the opportunity to provide media training sessions for many of those Canadian players, so seeing how far they had all come – both on the ice as top international players and off the ice as professional young women – was a very rewarding experience for me. I felt like a proud older sister seeing them in action and in-person at PyeongChang 2018.
That being said, when working for the International Ice Hockey Federation, it is important for me to remain impartial and unbiased toward any one country. I was not in PyeongChang to cheer for or favour Team Canada. I was there on behalf of the IIHF to ensure media operations ran smoothly for all counties, all media outlets and the entire women’s hockey event, so I treated every player on every team equally, just as I treat all journalists with the same respect.
Although I will always be a proud Canadian and Team Canada staff alumna, working with the IIHF requires a different mindset, and the focus becomes the greater goal of promoting the female game globally and growing the sport so that more girls and women around the world have opportunities to lace up some skates, pick up a stick and learn all of those life lessons and values that come from a dynamic and fun team sport such as hockey,” Lipscombe reflected.
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Logo obtained from:
Team Canada 2018 photos obtained from: https://www.hockeycanada.ca/en-ca/team-canada/women/olympics/2018/2018-wmn-olympic-hockey-team
All other images from Facebook