The United States won the first Olympic competition in Nagano, and this time the Americans will have their home fans to support them. Cammi Granato earned the honor of carrying the American flag in the 1998 closing ceremony. Look for the de facto queen of American women's hockey to carry the United States team in Salt Lake City. She will have plenty of support from the likes of Kaite King, Krissy Wendell and Jenny Potter. Goaltenders Sara DeCosta and Sarah Tueting are both effective.
Canada is the only other viable threat for the gold medal. The Canadians are led by forward Hayley Wickenheiser, who is considered the best women's hockey player in the world. But there's some agitation north of the border because the Americans, who are more adept at little aspects of the game, have surpassed the Canadians in their national sport. Finland won the bronze in Nagano and has finished third in the World Championships six times. Russia won the "other countries' gold" last year at the World Championships.