In hockey, a much different kind of divide has existed. Long in Japan’s shadow, the Korean Ice Hockey Association invested heavily in building up its women’s hockey program for the 2018 Games. As the host nation, the Korean team earned automatic qualification.
It has matured significantly under Sarah Murray, the Canadian-born coach hired in 2014. South Korea spent the last two years challenging top American college teams, and it captured a second-division world championship last year.
Still, Murray has often had to remind her team that there are other Olympic opponents besides Japan — it lost its first two games, against Switzerland and Sweden, each by 8-0 — even as she has come to understand how desperately her players want to beat Japan on Wednesday.
“This is my dream…