Hilary Knight is one of the most accomplished hockey players to every lace up skates. She won two NCAA national championship at the University of Wisconsin, where she left as the Badgers’ all-time leading scorer. She has two Olympic silver medals from the 2010 Vancouver and 2014 Sochi Winter Games. And now, following arguably the best game in women’s hockey history, Knight finally has her elusive Olympic gold medal after the USA took down Canada in a shootout for the ages.
We caught up with the 29-year-old Knight, who was spending the day at Comcast headquarters to celebrate with the “team behind the team,” a group that provided the Xfinity X1 Olympic Viewing Experience for the USA Women’s National Hockey Team’s golf medal run in PyeongChang, South Korea.
What have you been up to since the Olympics?
I've been busy sharing the journey with a lot of people. Various media tours to try and keep the momentum going. Went home for a brief vacation on the mountains and did some snowboarding. I just got back from a team vacation in the Virgin Islands.
Where is home right now?
Home is Idaho. Technically, I'm just traveling out of my bag right now. I'm happy to be here with Comcast and NBC Universal because I get to see my dad and my brother. I want to thank the partnership for supporting all of us on this amazing journey. We actually just had a little pep rally with some of the employees. It's cool to meet people from the team behind the team. For me, it's important to give credit for the team behind the team and being able to have people who weren't able to get over to see the Olympics firsthand and live the Olympics with us and follow our journey on the X1 platform was critical. I'm super fortunate to be partnered with Comcast and NBC Universal.
So, you and the team went to the Virgin Islands?
It was a vacation. A bunch of the girls and I just thought that we needed to go on a vacation after the Olympics and planned it before. What you guys see on TV and what you hear about our team is pretty remarkable. Going on vacation together after we've spent so many months together, it illustrates how close of a tight-nit group we are and how much we care for one another. That translates well on the ice for all of our success, as well.
What was your favorite memory from PyeonChang?
I mean, besides from winning the gold medal?
I thought it was fairly obvious, but you never know.
Honestly, you’re there with Team USA and being able to cheer on your other teammates and go to the different events, meet other people is super cool. After we were done competing we actually went snowboarding with Arielle Gold, who's a bronze medal snowboarder. She took us up the mountain in PyeongChang so it was pretty cool. The comradery of being an Olympian and being at the Olympic games and representing your country is pretty outstanding.
You're very humble. Talk specifically about the gold medal game.
It's a game for the ages. It's a great game from what I hear.
Have you watched it?
No, I haven't watched it.
Do you plan on watching it?
I listened to it once and that's kind of good enough for me. The first period was getting out the nerves. It's the biggest game of your life. The second period our team's relaxing more into the game. As the clock ticked down, the game was unfolding as it should. I know we were down like 2–1 with six minutes left or something. It's funny, because I never felt like we were down. We had such a great group. The room was extremely tight-nit and just thinking "We're gonna win this thing. We don't know when. It's just gonna happen." I think that's something that is so powerful.
Since you won the gold, you've been to a lot of events and had some cool stuff happen that has nothing to with hockey. What's been your favorite experience?
Probably going on Saturday Night Live, to be honest. That was pretty epic. Being able to meet Leslie Jones when we were in PyeongChang and then come back and do the Weekend Update was pretty cool. It's funny because I'm such a dreamer and a planner. I wrote down these goals and these things on a bucket list so to speak, and SNL was one of them. To have that opportunity and be on the stage with her was a dream come true.
How great is Leslie Jones? She's awesome.
She's amazing. Its funny because we were going out for our semi-final against Finland. All I hear is this person. I thought the crowd was getting into something, and we get up and it's Leslie Jones leaning over into our hallway, just screaming at us. It was awesome. The energy that she just brings to anything is amazing. It was really cool to meet her and work with her.
Another cool thing you did was NHL All-Star Skills Competition. Talk about that.
Beating the guys… Yeah. It was a unique opportunity. To be honest, I was a little nervous about the timing, because we were leaving for the Olympics in a few days. At that point and time, you're like “I just want to focus on the Olympics.” It was a great opportunity to get on the ice. Whenever hockey fans can see women play, it's important to the sport, both for the men and the women. It's great to get on the ice with the NHLers and share that moment and have fun for the fans.
You skated with the Anaheim Ducks at practice a few years ago. How was that?
It was great. It's just a lot of fun. I love what I do. To be able to do it at a high level is great. Obviously growing up you see the NHL guys, and when I was younger that was the only exposure to hockey before the '98 (Olympic) games. I always wanted to be in the NHL. So to then practice with the Ducks, that was a really cool moment. I'm hoping that I can get a game in the NHL.
I read that growing up when you said you wanted to play hockey, your grandmother told your mom "Oh, girls don't play hockey.” You've had a remarkable hockey career. What advice would you have for young people trying to do something that maybe, other people say they can't do, or something that hasn't been done?
I would say if you set your mind to it, if you set your heart on it, and it's something you feel passionate about then you need to set goals and put the work in to achieve those goals. There's always going to be someone who can tell you, "You can't do that," or "No." If you firmly believe in yourself and what you're trying to accomplish, then you should set goals to get there.