Julie Chu has won 18 medals in international women's hockey competitions. The Fairfield native picked up another one last month when the U.S. women's national team won a gold medal in the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships in Switzerland.
It is just another medal? Not by a long shot. "This ranks up there,'' Chu said. "I've been part of this since 2000, and this one's one of the most meaningful. I think as you get older, you appreciate these achievements a little bit more."
Chu won silver medals with the U.S. Olympic team in 2002 and 2010 and an Olympic bronze in 2006. She now has four golds from the IIHF World Championships, and she had a direct hand in Team USA's 3-2 win over Canada in the gold medal game.
Chu assisted on the game-winning goal, carrying the puck into the Team Canada zone. "In overtime, it's four-on-four, so there's a little more room to work with,'' Chu said. "When I saw two of our forwards going to the net, I figured I just wanted to get the puck to the net." Hilary Knight punched home the game-winner. "I could see it happening in slow motion,'' Chu said. "Once it happened, it was hard to gasp for air at the bottom of the pile. It seemed like everybody flew out there quickly to celebrate." (Watch a video of the game-winning goal here.)
The forward picked up a goal and six assists in the tournament. She was selected as Team USA's Player of the Game in a 13-1 win over Russia with a goal and three assists. That Team USA beat Canada for the gold made the victory that much more rewarding.
Chu, 29, juggled preparation for Team USA while serving as an assistant coach at Union College. She previously worked as an assistant at Minnesota-Duluth, where she helped that school win the 2008 NCAA championship. "It was similar to the way I worked it out in Duluth,'' Chu said. "I was able to practice with the team and that really helped my preparation."
Chu has been a hockey star since her junior career, when she helped the Connecticut Polar Bears win four national championships. She graduated in 2001 from Choate Rosemary Hall. She finished her college career at Harvard as the school's all-time assist leader, and her 284 points are tops in NCAA history. She won the Patty Kazmaier Award in 2007, the equivalent of the Heisman Trophy for women's hockey.
She plans to continue playing for the U.S. team for at least a few more years. She still has the passion. "That fire is still festering,'' Chu said. "That's a huge reason why I made the decision after the Vancouver games to keep going. One of the things the coaches and teammates know they can count on is my work ethic. If I lost that, then it might be time to move on. Then I'd be letting down my teammates, and that's not fair to them. To be able to make the U.S. Olympic team is a goal. I just have to focus on it and take it year by year."
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