Host City: Salt Lake City, United States
Date Started: February 9, 2002
Date Finished: February 24, 2002
Participants: 485 (325 men and 160 women) from 16 countries
Youngest Participant: Kim Martin (15 years, 349 days)
Oldest Participant: Igor Larionov (41 years, 68 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): 126 athletes with 1 medal
Most Medals (Country): United States and Canada (2 medals)
The two rinks used for Olympic ice hockey in 2002 were both completed in 1997. The E Center has been the home of the Utah Grizzlies of the ECHL since then, but is also regularly used for other sports. The Peaks Ice Arena is situated in the Salt Lake suburb of Provo. Once again both men’s and women’s tournaments were conducted. The women’s field was increased to eight teams, separated into two pools of four teams each. The top two teams in each pool advanced to semi-finals matches, with the winners of those matches, the United States and Canada, playing for the gold medal, which went to Canada.
The NHL once again closed down league play for two weeks so all the world’s best players could compete in Salt Lake City. The format was the same as in 1998 to accommodate the players and the league. Six nations (Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Sweden, USA) were seeded into the final round-robin pools, so that their players could arrive a few days later. Preliminary pools of four teams advanced one team each to the final pools, in this case Belarus, as in 1998, and Germany. The final pools were only seeding pools as all eight teams moved on to a single-elimination medal tournament. The big story of the tournament was that Canada won the gold medal, for the first time since 1952.