For the next two weeks, Team USA's ice hockey team will be in Lillehammer, Norway, playing at the Youth Olympic Games. Every day, team leader TC Lewis will be blogging about the team's experiences as they gear up to try and bring home the gold. This is an insider's view that readers won't be able to find anywhere else. For more information on the Youth Olympic Games, click here.
Opening ceremonies are done and what a show it was, but let's start at the beginning of the day.
Everyone got to sleep in until 8:30 a.m. today and everyone was excited to be able to do so. Breakfast was fairly similar to what we had yesterday but everyone seems to be able to find something that they like and it seems like no one is going hungry throughout the day. It is always a worry when you get exposed to new or different foods but the players are rolling with it very well.
We did another video session before practice today and the focus was on back checking, pursuing the puck and some special teams play. Then we went into practice where we started off with two different small area games followed by a bit of power play and penalty kill work. Then it was on to lunch.
The first game of the tournament got under way in the smaller facility at 2:00 p.m. and the team stayed and watched a good part of it. They got in early, which was good as lots of people didn't get in as it was completely full. The game was Finland vs. Norway so it wasn't surprising it was a full building (Finland won by the way).
But the biggest part of the day was certainly the opening ceremonies. They started around 7:00 p.m. and went for 90 minutes. The host certainly put on a great show, hard to tell the difference between the Youth Olympics and the Olympics. One big difference, the athletes all came in as one big group, not by country. It was great to see all the athletes getting along, talking to each other and having a great time...just what the games are all about.
A few notes on the night, the walk to the ski jumping center where the event was held was about 20 minutes from the village and the temp was around 20 but felt quite a bit colder. And they say there were roughly 13,000 spectators in attendance.
The next two days will be almost identical with both nights having an 8:00 p.m. game and a pre-game skate at 11:00 a.m. Starting today, we will have 45 minute practices from now on.
The players are really doing great, the staff couldn't be more pleased.
As you can imagine, everyone is really excited to get to the games themselves.
Go Team USA