Fun over, time to play
It was a whirlwind 48 hours in New York City for the USOC's 100 Days to Sochi event, celebrating the road to Russia for the 2014 Winter Olympics.
After a 6 a.m. practice on Sunday morning with my team in Boston, I hopped on a plane and flew to New York on Sunday night for the festivities. Most of Monday was spent in the NHL store and the NHL offices, meeting with media members from CBS and the NHL Network to talk about our USA women's national team preparations for the games as well as our long-standing rivalry with our neighbors to the north. I was accompanied by teammate Hilary Knight, and we had the opportunity to meet some past NHL greats such as Brendan Shanahan and Brian Leetch. We were treated like stars that night as we walked the "blue carpet" outside of Madison Square Garden for the Rangers' home opener and grand opening of the newly renovated MSG. Fans screamed, music blared and lights flashed. It was a great night in NYC!
Tuesday morning came quickly, and there wasn't a dull moment from when we woke up in our hotel in Times Square in the morning until we landed back in Boston that evening. Times Square was transformed overnight practically into a U.S. Olympic training center. There was an ice sheet for hockey and curling, and a downhill covered in snow for the skiing and snowboarding. The area was lit up with signs and lights all reflecting the Road to Sochi. Athletes, staff, media, and fans filled the streets.
Getting to "ham it up" on NBC's "Today" show in the morning with Hoda Kotb and guest host Anthony Mackie was great. Hilary Knight and I showed them some stickhandling skills and spoke about our team’s journey in the next 100 days during our segment. We continued to be moved around most of the morning and afternoon between photo shoots, news conferences and autograph signings, doing our best to represent our respective teams and our country as a whole. Teammate Julie Chu joined Hilary and me on the outdoor ice sheet for two hockey demonstrations that we put on for the crowd and the media at points throughout the day. We shot and passed the puck around, wearing our jerseys and big smiles, getting people excited about watching hockey in the Olympics. It was a busy but fun-filled day, and we were excited to have that opportunity to represent our team!
It was a quick turnaround when we returned back to Boston and met up with our team. We head on the road this weekend to Lake Placid, N.Y., for the 2013 Four Nations Cup. This tournament features the women's national teams from the U.S., Canada, Finland and Sweden. Seeing as it is the only major international tournament until the Olympics this season, there is a lot on the line. Our U.S. team is looking to win the whole thing. We have captured first place in the past two Four Nations Cups, beating Canada in the championship game both times (2011 in Sweden and 2012 in Finland). Our goals for the week revolve around work ethic. We are demanding a lot from ourselves, and we will continue to push one another in every game we play. Our staff has implemented systems for us on the ice, and our game plan is to work as hard as we can every single shift. I will be following up with picture/video blogs with write-ups during the tournament.