One of the various random encounters during the Olympics was of 2 Olympic silver medal winning Ice Dance competitors who arent each others partners. Random.
Charlie White, the silver medal winner (with his partner Meryl Davis) at the 2010 Olympics in Ice Dance was seen out & about with another Olympic Ice Dance competitor, and former Olympic silver medalist in the same sport, Tanith Belbin (a Canadian who is competing for the U.S.A. & sporting their flag on her cheek....Shame on you Ms.Belbin tsk tsk tsk).
The couple were spotted strolling thru the courtyard near where the Olympic Village entrance/exit was. They clearly were in a hurry, as they speed walked thru a throng of unaware people on their way to their destination. That destination, a U.S.A. hockey game.
Even though clearly in a hurry, the couple stopped long enough to sign a handful of autographs (although Charlie was pretty impatient once the requests seemed to run out for his autograph) on their way to the event.
Charlie White was nice, although a bit impatient. Perhaps being a former hockey player himself, he was more eager to get to the game. Tanith Belbin was incredibly nice, perhaps to a fault as she signed severla photos for 1 person, then several more for the next, all while her boyfriend tried to encourage her to get going.
So far since the Olympic athletes have been arriving, its been a slim trickle of identifiable faces & a lot of "I think they might be an athlete" blank stares from us.
But Sunday, the party really started up for the majority of the hounds. A group of generally 5-8 of us that had been out all week for other athletes, were suddenly dwarfed by the never less than 15 and as many as 70 fans, lookie-loos & just arriving hounds from other locales. They were all there because the glut of NHL players were coming for the Olympic games came thru Vancouver's YVR airport.
The media was there. There was lots of Canadian, American, Swedish, Finnish & even a couple Asian media personnel around.
Things really started for us, Saturday late night when Peter Forsberg & various other European based Team Sweden players & the Belarus team came in. Foppa was an incredibly willing signer, very talkative & quite personable. For those hounds (myself not being 1, I was on a different mission at the time) that were there from the time he got into the publics sight, reports of 5 & 6 autographs per person were boasted. Even for my friends & I, who showed up to the party very late (literaly as he was heading out the door to the security area that you cant get them in) we managed 2 each. It was then off to rest up for Sunday.
Sunday morning I slept in, and missed a terrific signing session by Finnish star Miikka Kiprusoff. One of the locals pulled 10 items out of the scrum. Team Canada superstar Jarome Iginla was less receptive to signing and did maybe 10 total from all reports I heard for the crowd of about 20 people at the time. Jeff Carter, who came as a hopeful replacement signed for the hounds before getting the punt by Team Canada the next day.
By the time I arrived in the early afternoon more than a dozen players had come thru, some signing, some being rushed thru the protected Olympics only doors to awaiting vehicles well away from the public. When I arrived everyone was getting prepped for Alex Ovechkin, probably the greatest hockey player there is currently playing. A couple guys came out before him like Thomas Greiss & Joe Pavelski from the Sharks, then came the Washington Capitals posse. Nick Backstrom came over and signed quite a few, most people leaving with more than 1 item, while the other Alex, Alexander Semin ignored the crowd, along with Semyon Varlamov. Alex Ovechkin however did sign, barely. A crowd of 50 or so waiting fans & lookie-loos anxiously begged him to sign, and he scribbled his rushed minimal effort autograph on 4-5 items, I was lucky enough to get one. Sure it looks like crap, but I still value a BAD Ovi at $50. Which last time I looked is better than NO Ovi at $0
After that scrum we hurried over to the domestic arrivals to grab a flight with a couple Bruins on it. David Krejci, who signed only 1 per person got the crowd of 20-30 people warmed up. Then Patrice Bergeron, Team Canada member, came thru & the crowd seemed to double out of nowhere. I was watching for Marco Sturm who saw the crowd swarm his NHL team mate & he took the chance to try & leave. I went over for him & got 2, only 2 other people got him before he slipped out the door. As I got him I jokingly said "waited for Patrice to go before you made your move eh?" which he replied with a smirk "hehe, yeah". The crowd around Patrice was so thick I had time to get over to him & snag an autograph before he was rushed out by security & overzealous volunteers who pushed people around. It then was noted Eric Staal was trying to sneak away as well, but was nabbed by a few from the crowd before his handler declared he was done & shooed him away.
A couple small scrums for guys like Dan Boyle for Team Canada and Jonathan Quick for Team USA filled the dull hours in between, but for the mostpart, the mid-evening was slow.
Reports that Martin Brodeur & other Devils had slipped in nearly undetected surfaced which was met with disappointment by some & acceptance by others more experienced in hounding large events where you understand you cant be everywhere at once.
Next was Pavel Datsuk who was greeted by a pile of collectors, dealers & fans on the international side. Myself & a couple others who were late in reacting only got 1, while most got 2 or 3. While the crowd followed him outside hoping to crack him on signing again, we noticed other players coming out in the security area. We rushed over to the fence, which for some reason had been moved up maybe 75-100 feet on Sunday, making access to them more possible. Valtteri Filppula and others came out, came over to do interviews for Finnish TV & then signed willingly. I got 4 from Valtteri, before collecting my things & moving on to look for more. A handful of other Finnish guys including Joni Pitkanen, Jere Lehtinen & Tuomo Ruutu also came in around that time as well. My luck wasnt as good with them. Mainly because looking for items when your carrying 1500+ items can be time consuming. It certainly cost me more than a few times. Pitkanen & Lehtinen both signed but I didnt have the time to get into my stuff, get back into the moshpit of hounds & get them.
A series of bad decisions lead to me being shut out for a couple hours, even with players coming in. I chose to sit on Russian goalie Evgeni Nabokov for awhile thinking with only a couple of us still waiting, he would surely sign. But after 45 mins of him sitting talking to a fairly fat puckbunny, he ignored all autograph requests & left. While I was there getting kicked in the balls by Nabby, Team Anaheim came in (minus the Canadian guys). Selanne signed a few, Koivu signed some & the others got away either without being asked, or with Team USA personnel wooshing them thru the crowd.
A late night flight with a handful of Boston Bruins came in & I thought afterwards my luck was turning around....but I again made a foolish choice it seemed. I got in & nabbed 3 Zdeno Chara autographs, 2 Tim Thomas along with 2 Miroslav Satan autographs. Generally getting 5 autographs from the most recent major trophy winners liek Chara (Norris) & Thomas (Vezina) would seem like a great score, but they came at the price of missing more Red Wings players in Lidstrom & Zetterberg. At least I got SOMETHING this time, but I still felt a bit disappointed that the 2 Miro Satan autographs I waited an extra 5-8 mins to get might have cost me the 2 Wings stars.
There was 1 final group of the night. A large group that included a lot fo east coast guys. On the flight were New York Rangers stars Henrik Lundqvist & Marian Gaborik. Along with New York Islanders Swiss star Mark Streit, a few other various guys from the Tampa Lightning & other Rangers All in all, about 8 to 10 players. I came out of the whole debacle with 2 Marian Gaborik autographs and 2 Mark Streit autographs. Most of them didnt even come over, and Lundqvist signed maybe 4 autographs for the 20 or so people waiting at 1 AM before walking back to the vehicle that was picking him up & leaving.
That was the end of the NHL arrival main day. A small handful of guys arrived early Monday morning, most notably Daniel Alfredsson. He signed willingly for the fans that went out.
A lot of the Canadian Olympians did not come thru because private charters were picking them up at meeting locations & taking them in to our smaller airport in Abbotsford (about an hour away) along with a few other non-Canadian Olympic team guys. With no decent access, and lots of uncertainty on who exactly would be on them, we never took the gamble to head out there..which probably was for the best, but we'll never know. With a star studded line up that came thru including the likes of Crosby, Fleury, Malkin, Getzlaf, Perry, Kane, Toews, Seabrook, Keith, Nash and many more on them, it might have been worth the gamble to go out & try. But the uncertainty deterred anyone from trying.
On Tuesday the city of Vancouver had one of the biggest names in the winter sports world arrive, Lindsey Vonn, the supermodel looking superskiing star from the U.S. arrived to a throng of media, fans & autograph collectors all hoping for a moment of her time.
While Ms. Vonn was extremely classy is taking the time to sign autographs, much to the detest & constant pleading of her handlers not to, I found it interesting that she did not take much time to talk with the media themselves. Perhaps she found them to be too aggressive, as it was noted by multiple people there that the NBC team were physically pushing & pulling fans & other media members out fo the way to try & get their own shot. If I were Ms. Vonn, I too would have evaded any talk time with the American Olympic broadcaster.
Today it came out that Lindsey is suffering from a serious shin bruise & her Olympics is even in jeopardy because of it. perhaps this was part of what prevented her from wanting to stand around & do interviews?
What was clear from this breif encounter with her is that she was all class with the fans & autograph collectors there. Not leaving a single request hanging for a signature on any item, including brand new fresh off the shelf Sports Illustrated swimsuit poses.
So far these Olympics I have seen many athletes, most of which have been complete class, but Ms. Vonn really won me over considering the demand on her time, the insistence of signing despite her staff telling her not to sign & even physically pushing autograph collectors away from the 4 ft high glass rail securely seperating them from Ms. Vonn anyways. When you add that up with the injury shes working thru & the pressures of being expected to perform up here for the Winter Olympics, she really is a class act.
I hope for the sake of the Olympics & Lindsey, she can go in her events. The staff that Team USA employs, the station broadcasting the games for Americans might all be full of asses, but at least the athletes are still class acts.
If Team USA wins Gold in Vancouver during the 2010 Olympics, it will likely be Jessie Vetter in goal for it.
Going into her first Olympics, Vetter is a safe choice to be the goalie of choosing for USA coach Mark Johnson in big games. With 2 World Championships and 3 NCAA championships firmly in her trophy case in just 3 years, Vetter might be the hottest asset in womens hockey right now.
With her former college team, the Wisconsin Badgers, Vetter crushed longstanding NCAA records in the 2006-7 season, that saw her post an unprecidented 0.83 GAVE (first to ever eclipse the 1.00 barrier), a record of 448 mins 32 seconds of consecutive shutout hockey and become the first female goalie to post a shutout in the Frozen Four tourney (which she did twice) and holds the NCAA records for career shutouts at 39. Save percentage at .941 & Wins at 91. This is topped off with being the 2 time NCAA Frozen Four tournament MVP.
A natural athlete, Vetter was also goalie for her high school soccer team that won 3 straight Wisconsin state championships. In the end, with a chance to compete in both at college, she went with hockey. American hockey fans are happy she did.
Team USA will be aiming for Gold in Vancouver in 2010. Its a goal that is within their reach. Soon every American hockey fan will know who Jessie Vetter is. They will know that a gold for Team USA is a very possible goal with Jessie Vetter in net.
Viewed by most as the top womens defender in the world, Angela Ruggiero will be expected to bring that skill set to Vancouver to help the U.S.A. Womens hockey team try & get a Gold in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, Canada.
Ruggiero is a veteran of the Olympics, as she enters her 4th games. With a Gold, a silver & a bronze, the last two both being less than she hoped, Angela will come into the 2010 games on a mission. Return to the top.
Her resume reads like no other in womens hockey. Namely because of a feat she accomplished that has still to this date, not been matched. She played in a professional mens league in North America in a non-goalie position. Playing for the Tulsa Oilers of the CHL, she created history, and entered the Hockey Hall Of Fame with the accomplishment... with her brother Bill, as the first brother-sister duo to ever play a pro hockey game together. Now playing for the Minnesota Whitecaps of the WWHL when she isnt on Team USA, Angela his helping to grow the womens hockey game by playing in one of its top leagues.
Shes such a notable name, that off the ice, her success has transcended into a television career. With a spot on Donald Trumps The Apprentice being the most notable of these.
She is the all time leader in games played for Team USA, 3 time World Championship Gold medalist. There is pretty much little to nothing left for her to accomplish, yet she still keeps going. With various business world job offers at her disposal, she put them all on hold to go after another gold medal in 2010. That drive & determination is what makes Angela so valuable to Team USA.
Team USA will come into the Olympics as a heavy favorite to win a gold in Vancouver. With Angela Ruggiero on the ice for them, that goal is a real possibility.
You can check out her website at www.angelaruggiero.com/
You can follow Angela on Twitter at http://twitter.com/AngelaRuggiero
Whats better than 1 great offensive weapon? How about 2 of them? Thats what you get with Monique & Jocelyne Lamoureux. Team USA womens (albeit more attractive) version of the Sedin twins.
Monique already has a WCHA scoring title and Rookie Of The Year trophies on her mantlepiece at the collegiate level. Add ontop of that her 2009 World Hockey championship gold medal, and she has quickly put together an impressive resume at only 20 years of age.
While Monique may have the awards, its certainly would seem Jocelyne is the catalyst for her success. Jocelyne put up more assists than her twin sister last season, and with a .565 faceoff percentage, its clear the majority of their scoring plays probably came off getting control of the puck off the draw. She too has a World Championship gold medal from the 2009 tournament. As well, she was on the WCHA all-rookie team & 1st team all-star.
With several immediate family members involved in competitive sports thru their lives, its no surprise that Jocelyne & Monique are so athletically blessed. A father who played goal in college, a mother who runs marathons & was a swimmer, as well as brothers who play & coach in the sport. They almost seemed destined to be great athletes. Certainly, the University of North Dakota is happy for their pedigree, it has given them 2 top level athletes.
While U.S.A. will likely rely on the likes of Natalie Darwitz, Hilary Knight or Julie Chu to lead the team offensively, they may just be watching the Lamoureux twins closely to see if they will be the leaders come next Olympics. Considering they had 16 game winning goals between them last collegiate season, it wouldnt be a stretch to see one of them pop in a Gold medal winning goal in Vancouver.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.