The U.S. women’s hockey team was thiiiisss close to gold in Sochi.
The Canadians, again, had luck on their side in overcoming a 2-0 deficit and surviving a Kelli Stack clearing flip that bumped off the post of an empty net with just seconds remaining in regulation. It was a two-inch miss that would have altered history.
The Thursday final was 3-2 in overtime and the Americans settled for silver medals.
As disappointing as the outcome was for the U.S. team, it remains nonetheless a proud moment just to represent one’s country in the Olympic Games.
Jill Radzinski, a veteran trainer of 17 years at UC Davis, worked her second straight Olympics with the U.S. hockey team. Just hours before the gold-medal face-off, The Enterprise was able to contact the Aggie employee in Sochi.
Contrary to other media reports, Radzinski says “conditions in the Olympic Village are very nice.”
“Everything is brand-new, clean, safe and hospitable,” the former Penn State field hockey star said via email.
Radzinski was amazed at the weather — “50-60 degrees … sunny almost every day. We have a picture-postcard view of the mountains on the west side of the village and an even more (breathtaking) view of the Black Sea out our windows and balconies on the east.
“It’s a very quiet environment as all of the athletes are focused on their events.”
That may change as closing ceremonies are Sunday night and many of the events will be long settled by then.
For Radzinski and the hockey players, it will be another exciting moment in an Olympic odyssey that began back in September with team workouts in Boston.
“The team chose not to walk in the opening ceremonies because we had our first game vs. Finland … the next day (early),” she explains.
But she says the hockey team will be there in force Sunday: ”We will all walk in the closing ceremonies. I was fortunate to have walked in the closing ceremonies in the 2010 Winter Olympics … where we took the silver medal (Canada won gold).
“The closing ceremonies are full of celebration and entertainment. It’s really rewarding to meet athletes from other teams.”
Radzinski was impressed by how American skiers or skaters supported, say, hockey or curling and those athletes, in turn, supported other U.S. entries.
When she returns home March 4, she says she’ll assume her training duties with UCD women’s soccer, gymnastics and track and field.
“My journey with the USA women’s ice hockey team has been priceless,” says the trainer, who began her relationship with American women’s hockey in 2008. “I am so grateful for the opportunity and very fortunate to have the support of my colleagues and friends.”
Radzinski also views the experience as “career and personal development” because she is “surrounded by top-notch professionals in the sports medicine and sports performance field.”
“I learn so much from these experiences and am so proud to be part of something much, much bigger than ourselves.
“It truly has shaped me, both as a person and an athletic trainer.”
Notes: Radzinski and her teammates got bonus workouts when it was dinnertime. The dining hall is a 15-minute walk from the team’s quarters (which are shared with USA speed and figure skaters, curlers and men’s hockey players. …Radzinski reports: “There is a large fitness center, a recreation center — video and arcade games — laundry facility, post office, dry cleaning, hair salon …” Well, you get the idea. … When the hockey team arrived in Munich on Feb. 2, the Americans went through a pre-Olympic check-in. “Team processing is like Christmas morning times 1 million,” Radzinski recalls. In addition to outfits to wear at the opening and closing ceremonies, “Ralph Lauren specialists are on site to tailor your ceremonies apparel and coordinate your style to their exact standards.” Hopefully, Radzinski’s new outfits go well with a silver accessory.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-320-4456