TORONTO — With eight Olympic gold medals between them, Canadian women’s hockey stars Caroline Ouellette, Shannon Szabados and Marie-Philip Poulin appreciate the support of the red mittens campaign.
The players are the faces of this year’s red mitten program, which has raised $28 million over seven years for the Canadian Olympic Committee’s foundation.
The seventh edition of the mitts were unveiled Friday by Hudson’s Bay.
The first version, created prior to the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, became hard to get after Oprah Winfrey featured them on her television show during the Games.
“We proudly wear them and they are so symbolic,” Ouellette said. “Our families wear them and wave them around. Every time I see people wearing them and waving that Canadian Maple Leaf it really fills me with pride.”
The mittens sell for $12 with 30 per cent of the proceeds go to the COC’s foundation. The COC prepares athletes for the Games environment with their Olympic Excellence Series, as well as looking after their needs on the ground at Summer and Winter Games.
“In Canada, I think we’re really fortunate as athletes to be supported by the amount that’s raised by the mittens and all the Canadian gear,” said Poulin.
The Beauceville, Que., forward scored the equalizer with less than a minute left and the overtime winner against the U.S. in the final of the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
She also scored both goals for Canada in a 2-0 win over the Americans to claim gold in 2010. Edmonton’s Szabados was Canada’s winning goaltender in both finals.
Montreal’s Ouellette, 36, is one of just five athletes in the world to win gold at four consecutive Winter Games. The others are teammates Hayley Wickenheiser and Jayna Hefford, Soviet biathlete Alexander Tikhonov and German speedskater Claudia Pechstein.
The mittens have gone through various designs over the years. The 2015 mitts are grey with red bands adorned with a white Maple Leaf.
“Canada is pretty-well known for its winters and its hockey,” Szabados said. “Having three hockey players as your ambassadors for the red mittens was kind of a good fit for us.
“The red mittens are pretty iconic. You see them everywhere. I think they were on Oprah. They’re kind of a big deal.”
By Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press