Japanese News: Japan women’s ice hockey: first Olympic win!

Today, I will study an article about Wednesday women ice hockey game where Japan beat the unified Korean team 4-1.

The context

South Korea and North Korea have created a unified team in women’s ice hockey for Pyeongchang Olympics. The unified Korean team was defeated 8-0 by both Switzerland and Sweden and Wednesday’s game against Japan was a highly anticipated match. To Koreans, defeating Japan in sport is a big achievement in itself.

With Japan winning 4-1, both teams had their moment of glory: Japan women’s ice hockey won its first Olympic game and the unified Korean team scored its first goal. As strange as it may sound, the arena exploded with cheers and flag-waving when Korea finally scored, as though the girls were winning a gold medal…

Anyway, I was eager to read about the “historical victory” of Japan women’s ice hockey team in Japanese.

I found a long article on NHK News Web: アイスホッケー女子日本が南北合同チームに勝ち初勝利

Every time I start reading a long article in Japanese, I feel discouraged and have difficulty focusing on what I am reading. I decided to print out this article and work on it with a pen in hand. What I can say is this: reading on paper instead of reading on a computer screen doubled my comprehension of the text!

First part

The first part of the article summarizes the game and insists on the fact that it was the first time that Japan women’s ice hockey team won in Olympics. The expression used is 「初勝利をあげました」. I was surprised to see the verb あげる used here.  In fact, あげる has the meaning “to produce a favourable result” (profit, sales result, work or school-related results…). It is therefore used to say “to notch up victory”.

Before Wednesday’s game, both Japan and unified Korean team had lost their first two games. The article uses the word “連敗・れんぱい” which means “successive defeats”. Wednesday’s game was the last match of the preliminary round “予選リーグ最終戦”.

Japan is the first to score soon after the begin of the match. To score first is “先制点を決める”. We can also say 先取点をあげる. Japan scored two points in the first period, but in the second period they were under the pressure of the Korean team “合同チームに押し込まれる” and finally conceded one goal “一点を返されました”. During the third and last period, Japan scored two more goals and outdistanced Korea again “二点を奪って再び引き離し”.

Japan participated in two Olympics (Nagano and Sochi) but never won a match. This time, Japan women’s ice hockey team is third of its group and a last game on the 18th will decide Japan’s final rank (5th to 8th).

Second part

The second part of the article has the title: “初勝利つかんだ選手たちは”.

“つかむ” means “to grab” and can be used in both the physical meaning and the figurative one.

This second part is mainly composed of interviews given by the players who scored and the coach. Six names appear in this part and I find it so frustrating to not be able to pronounce them. I can recognize some Family names like 小池・こいけ (because I saw it a lot lately in political articles!) but I am not even close to being able to pronounce the first names…

An interesting expression is about the first score “先制点” that “leads to” victory. The article says “オリンピックの初勝利につながる先制点”. “つながる” means “be related to” but can also mean “lead to”, “result in”.

The players are happy that they won thanks to “relentless efforts” “粘り勝ち” and hope to end 5th of the general ranking. The players and the coach expressed the same wish in different ways:





They all use similar expressions: “in order to…” “I want to…

The noun 星 does not mean “star” here, but “point”, “score”. It collocates with the verb 稼ぐ・かせぐ. The expression 星を稼ぐ means “score a point”. The player used the verb “積む・つむ” which means “pile up”.

Third part

The third part of the article focuses on Korean players and coach: 南北合同チームの監督・選手は

They seem satisfied by their performance. Even if they lost the game, they “did their best”: 最善を尽くす・さいぜんをつくす. The verb 尽くす・つくす means “do to the utmost of one’s power, do everything” and can be used in expressions such as “全力を尽くす”.

Last part

The last part names this victory a “historical first victory” and insists on the atmosphere of the arena that was not ideal for Japan: 圧倒的なアウェーでつかんだ歴史的初勝利

The article says that most of the arena was supporting the unified Korean team, waving the unification flag while the cheerleading delegation 応援団 sent by North Korea kept cheering the unified team. The arena was indeed very loud and got excited “会場がすごく盛り上がる” every time Korea had the puck, and it even grew louder when Korea scored its first and single goal. This resulted in an atmosphere “圧倒的なアウエーの雰囲気” that played against the Japan team.

The coach even talked of an extremely difficult match “会場の雰囲気もあって非常にやりづらい試合”.

But, despite it all, Japan women’s ice hockey team achieved a “historical first victory” 歴史的な初勝利.