The Masked Olympians

As the 2014 Winter Olympics come to an end the final medals are handed out, I felt the need to do one more Cover Story on the games. There isn't much more we can say about the uniforms, but what about the all amazing artwork the goalies donned?

This week, we take a look back at the mask designs of every netminder who saw action in Sochi. It's a blog post full of photos, sorted alphabetically by country. Enjoy!



Mathias Lange and Bernhard Starkbaum tended goal for the Austrians. From the top, Lange's lid bears the coat of arms from the jersey's crest. Meanwhile, Starkbaum's mask looks a little splattered. In fact, it reminds me a bit of Ilya Bryzgalov's new Oilers mask.

Click on photos to cycle through.



Carey Price actually had two masks made for his trip to Sochi — the white one seen above and a black version with a white maple leaf. As far as I could tell, Price never wore the black one. A great opportunity would've come for the black jersey game but Roberto Luongo played that one. He went with a patriotic version of his NHL lid with Johnny Canuck on top — revised slightly from what he wore in 2010.

On the women's side, Charline Labonte opted for gold trim around the edges of her helmet. Shannon Szabados, meanwhile, managed to skirt IOC logo rules with a big Toronto Maple Leafs logo — only in red instead of blue. It might look familiar if you remember James Reimer's mask from last year.


Czech Republic

Ondrej Pavelec put the Czech coat of arms on top of his bucket as the Czech flag extends below to the chin. Teammate Alexander Salak also went with a flag theme. But Jakub Kovar seemed to have the most fun with his mask. (Click the image above to advance.) The whole thing was inspired by the coat of arms, giving each side its own look.



Tuukka Rask wore the symbol of his NHL club — a fierce bear, carrying the Finnish flag. NESN has a few more angles if you're interested. Kari Lehtonen designed his own mask complete with the coat of arms and lined with snowflakes. InGoalMag has photos of his hand-drawn sketches.

For the women, Noora Raty opted for double lions! On the left side is the one you'll find on her crest and the Finnish coat of arms. On the right is an image of a real lion. A scary one, too.



I probably shouldn't have taken out the colors around Viona Harrer's mask since it's solid black. Martin Gerber and Jonas Hiller did that several years ago. Jennifer Harss was a bit more creative. On one side, the bull represents her pro team back home while the other side features the famous Bavarian castle, Neuschwanstein. Her designer Air Trix Studios has more photos.



Both of Japan's goalies utilized the same mask design — flowers on one side, flames on the other. However, their individuality shows up in their gold cages and sweater numbers on the left side. Nana Fujimoto wore No. 30 while Akane Konishi wore No. 29.



The Latvian netminders went very patriotic. The lions from the coat of arms dominate Edgars Masalskis's lid. There's also a cityscape of his hometown and Latvian capital of Riga around the chin. Meanwhile, Kristers Gudlevskis' only request for his mask design was Latvia's Freedom Monument.



Wonder what's up with Norwegian goalies being named Lars. Lars Haugen has some great imagery on his helmet, including snowcapped mountains the northern lights. The other side has a beautiful river scene. Lars Volden, on the other hand, went all Vikings. You can find more photos of these masks on Facebook.



The Russians had some nice masks. Sergei Bobrovski stuck with his Khabibulin-style brick wall, adding the Russian flag around the chin. He's also incorporated the gold stars from the shoulders of the team's red jersey. Semyon Varlamov modeled his mask after the other jersey with the white eagles. Both were designed by the prolific and talented David Gunnarsson, a.k.a. @ArtOfDave.

For the ladies, Anna Prugova had a half-blue, half-red mask — which I'm thinking may be her regular mask. It has No. 31 on the chin yet she wore No. 1 in Sochi. Yulia Leskina, on the other hand, is the no-frills type. Get a white mask, add a couple of flag stickers and call it a day.



None of the Slovak goalies really stepped outside the box with their masks. Jaroslav Halak, Peter Budaj and Jan Laco all featured the traditional jersey crest on top with variations of the flag. Though Budaj mimicked the national anthem stripes from the jersey and Laco incorporated some wintry snow-covered mountains.



In their first Olympic appearance, the Slovenians didn't go too crazy. Robert Kristan and Luka Gracnar wore the same masks. Only their uniform numbers on the chin differentiated them.



Only one guy got to see time between the pipes for Sweden. And why shouldn't he? Henrik Lundqvist was unbeatable — especially in this glittery mask. It's very Swedish yet it still has a similar feel to his Rangers' lid. This was another Dave Gunnarsson masterpiece.

As for the women, Valentina Wallner wrapped her mask in the flag. Kim Martin Hasson must like stripes. Both of these turned out pretty well — just not as sharp as Hank's.



The Swiss goalies had some great masks. Jonas Hiller joined his matte-finish black with some red accents. Fellow goalie Reto Berra tried white with a cityscape above the temple. Unfortunately, these angles don't show the more detailed imagery on the other side of the helmets. Find photos from the designer here.

For the women, Florence Schelling was the only goalie to see action as she led her team to the bronze medal. Her bucket is modeled a bit on the white jersey with that red stripe across the forehead.


United States

Finally we arrive at the stars and stripes. Ryan Miller chose the cartoony design with Uncle Sam literally rolling up his sleeves and a bald eagle literally tearing through an American flag. (Is that wrong?) Jonathan Quick's silver lid resembled what he wears for the Kings — though the backplate is a tribute to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Then there's the ladies. Jessie Vetter's original mask design was the subject of a minor controversy. The backplate featured the U.S. Constitution, which somehow violated IOC regulations. It was replaced before the Games.

My personal favorite is where we'll end. Molly Schaus had the United States seal on one side and a giant red, white and blue "USA" on the other. Simple, bold and awesome.

What was your favorite goalie mask from Sochi? I'm thinking of putting together a quick Olympic goalie mask tournament since this was one of my less interactive posts of late. Keep an eye out for that on the Vote page.


The Olympic Goalie Mask Tournament is underway! Get over there and vote!