Randi Griffin, the North Carolinian who scored the first goal in Korean Olympic ice hockey history, is featured in an Olympic Channel documentary that chronicles the merging of the North and South women’s hockey squads into one for the 2018 Winter Games.
“We Are One” debuted on the Olympic Channel’s website Wednesday and can be viewed online. The documentary gives a behind-the-scenes look at the unified Korean women’s team and the challenges it faced competing in PyeongChang against more talented, experienced teams.
Unlike the other teams, the Korean squad had to overcome the political pressures of the moment, language barriers (Korean is spoken differently in North and South), and the constant spotlight from international media.
The team played under the blue and white unification flag instead of the flags of North and South Korea. The South Korean roster was supplemented by 12 members of the North Korean women’s national team.
Even before the merger, the South Korean squad had an unusual collection of players. The Korean Ice Hockey Association recruited some players of Korean heritage from the United States and Canada via email, asking if they would be interested in playing in the Olympics.
Griffin, who played hockey at Harvard University, thought the email was a hoax and didn’t respond to it for months.
Lucky for Korea, she eventually responded. Griffin made history when she scored Korea’s first-ever Olympic goal in February against arch-rival Japan.
It was a weak wrist shot that bounced and trickled five-hole – between the legs – of the Japanese goaltender.
Griffin called it a “garbage goal.” The puck she scored with is now on display at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto along with other artifacts from the 2018 Winter Games.
The Korean women’s unified team was bad. It failed to win a game during the Olympic tournament and was outscored 2 to 20. But it played before huge and enthusiastic crowds.
Games had a college basketball-type atmosphere, largely thanks to an army of North Korean cheerleaders that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un sent to the Winter Games.
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