Uden Johansson preps for Sochi
Erica Uden Johansson decided not to play at Quinnipiac this season for a shot at something much bigger: an Olympic medal.
Uden Johansson, 24, will suit up for Team Sweden during the Olympics for the second time in her career, the first being in 2010 in Vancouver.
“I’ve been working hard for this for the past four years, so it’s great that it has paid off,” said Uden Johansson, who will have one more year of eligibility at Quinnipiac.
In the 2010 Olympics, she recorded two points–a goal and an assist–and helped Sweden record a fourth-place finish. She played in two International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Championships, as Team Sweden finished fourth in 2009 and fifth in 2012.
She said she felt her chances of making the Olympic team would be better if she played in Sweden. She scored 13 goals and recorded 11 assists for the Sundsvall Hockey Wildcats this year in her year away from Quinnipiac.
“The coach could see me more often than if I was in the U.S., so since I wanted to play in the Olympics again, I decided that Sweden would be my best bet,” Uden Johansson said.
The Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey team currently ranks eighth in the country in the USCHO.com poll. Uden Johansson has tallied 32 goals and 39 assists in her Bobcat career, ranking sixth in program history in goals and points and fourth in assists. When Team Sweden announced its Olympic roster on Jan. 14, Quinnipiac head coach Rick Seeley expressed how proud he was of the forward.
“She has always represented our program, and Quinnipiac University with class and maturity,” he said in a press release. “UJ was determined to make her National team and compete in her second Olympics. The fact that she has achieved that goal supports our belief in her, and our decision to wholeheartedly support her dream.”
Uden Johansson said she was at an athlete gala when she got a phone call from Niclas Högberg, Sweden’s head coach. She left her table so she could talk to him, and after a few minutes, he told her she made the team. When she got back to her table, she said she couldn’t stop smiling.
“The relief I felt then was something else,” she said. “I was just so happy and satisfied that it was all worth it.”
The Olympics are covered by numerous countries all over the world. In 2010, she wasn’t as used to the media attention or the larger crowds in the stands. When she stepped onto the ice for her first game, she said it was a surreal moment.
“The adrenaline and the atmosphere was just awesome,” she said.
Uden Johansson said she has heard from friends and family all over the world who have been supporting her, especially come the opening ceremony on Friday.
“I’ll put down my Canadian flag long enough to wish Erica, and her Swedish teammates, the best of luck in Sochi,” Seeley said.
Team Sweden will play in Group B preliminary rounds. Sweden first plays Japan on Feb. 9 and then plays Germany on Feb. 11 and Russia on Feb. 13.
With one Olympic tournament under her belt, Uden Johansson said she knows a bit more of what to expect. She also said she has learned how to control her nerves and emotions.
“I was really nervous, but I know now that the game will be the same as if we were playing it any other time,” she said. “Just go out and do my best is all I need to do.”