DOUSMAN, Wis. — Friends and family who'd gathered in Dousman, Wisconsin to cheer on hometown star Brianna Decker were shocked when she was carted off the ice during the first period of the inaugural hockey game between Team USA and Finland at the start of the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing.
"She is in really good spirits and thank God it's not her knee and it's not her head and she's talking and she's breathing," said Marilyn Decker, as she recounted a phone call with her daughter Brianna, who had just been taken off the ice in a stretcher. "She's — she's doing pretty good."
Friends and family had gathered in Dousman, Brianna's hometown, to watch as Women's USA Hockey took the ice to battle Finland in the first full day of games in Beijing as the Winter Olympics get underway.
Marilyn Decker added that the Olympic doctors are incredible and she knows her daughter is in good hands. "(They) immediately did a CAT scan and an MRI and they didn't give me all the results on that yet, but it's something with the lower leg," said Marilyn.
Decker got tangled up with Finnish defender Ronja Savolainen behind the net, and the two fell awkwardly to the ice. Decker's left leg appeared to get caught underneath Savolainen, and she remained on the ice until the medical staff placed her on a stretcher and wheeled her to the locker room.
Decker is the team's assistant captain and a star forward, but to her younger brother, she can be summed up in one word — tough. "I believe she'll be back," said Brody Decker, noting that this isn't his sister's first injury and that she's bounced back before.
This is the 3rd Olympics for Brianna, who won gold in 2018 and silver in 2014. She keeps in touch with many people in Dousman, including her former high school softball coach, Pat Leslie, who also believes Brianna can overcome this obstacle. "I think she's in the best shape of her life. And when she was stuck in Canada during the pandemic, rather than moping, she spent that time working out... 5 or 6 hours a day."
Brianna was seen after the game on the side of the rink, wearing shorts, crutches, and a boot. It was a sight that drew a cheer from the crowd gathered at the watch party and it sparked a lot of phone calls and text messages to her parents.
"It's just a really, really rewarding thing that people all watched and all care," added Marilyn Decker.
Team USA did win Thursday's game, something Brianna's family says, she was very proud to see.
More photos from her watch party back home in Wisconsin: