Statue of Liberty causes controversy at Winter Olympics

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Statue of Liberty causes controversy at Winter Olympics

GANGNEUNG, Korea —  The Statue of Liberty was still standing after a day of confusion about whether it would be allowed to appear on the mask of two U.S. women’s team goalies.         

Lady Liberty was still painted on Nicole Hensley’s mask when she posted a 13-save shutout to help the American women (2-0) record a 5-0 win against the Olympic Athletes of Russia early Tuesday morning.         

“I’m not sure really what happened,” Hensley said. “I’m just focused on playing the games. Our equipment guys take care of the equipment and we take care of what is going on on the ice.”

A detailed view of Nicole Hensley's mask for Team USA.

Earlier in the day,  USA Today Sports reported that the Americans had been informed the Statue of Liberty on Hensley’s and Alex Rigsby’s masks could be a violation of the IOC ban on political symbols. A USA Hockey spokesperson confirmed that the masks were under review.         

Before the game, the IOC ruled that the masks could remain as is with no modifications. Hensley’s Statue of Liberty image is on the left side of her mask, and Rigsby’s is on her chin. Neither goalie played in USA’s opening 3-1 win against Finland. Maddie Rooney was the starter.         

Hensley said she wears the Statue of Liberty image because “it’s a great representation of the country.”

Rigsby was the backup goalie against the Olympic Athletes of Russia. She said her mask designer recommended the Statue of Liberty stamp.         

“My designer sent me stamps, and he said no one had done stamps before,” Rigsby said. “He sent me a bunch of different ones, and I thought the Statue of Liberty was pretty cool with the lines and Lady Liberty on it."         

Rigsby said she was surprised the Statue of Liberty drew any attention.

“I don’t understand why,” she said. “But everything is good now. It’s cleared. It’s totally fine.”

The Americans want to be focused on their objective to win the gold medal. It was clear their intention is not to dwell on anything other than trying to win games. That includes goalie masks         

U.S. coach Robb Stauber said he wasn’t aware of what was happening with the goalie masks

"No idea,” Stauber said. “I stick to hockey. Some stuff that happens ... we are here for a purpose, here to focus. Some of that stuff on the outside, I don’t pay attention. It’s not that I don’t care, but I think there is something more important right now.”          

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