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WUG Diary - Michael Podelnyk


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Yesterday, we suffered a tough loss to Russia to drop our record to 0-3. Despite how that record may sound, all three games could have gone either way. We were tied in the third period of our games against Russia and Slovakia. Unlucky bounces and tough breaks got the best of us. Tomorrow, we have our fourth preliminary-round game versus Korea. On Thursday, we will have a consolation game to determine our overall position in the tournament. If we beat Korea tomorrow and win our game on Thursday, the U.S. University Select Team will finish in seventh place, which would be our best finish in the Winter World University Games.

This morning many of us went and watched the team pursuit speed skating event. It’s amazing how fast those guys go; the male gold medalist was Italian, and wow could he fly. After watching, we had practice. We now have the rest of the day to ourselves. Most of us are going to meet with our families and have dinner while others will be attending various sporting events and seeing things around the city. Thursday night we are going to the University Festival for the athletes. We don’t really know what to expect there, but it should be fun. Friday, we are taking a day trip to local attractions and Saturday the Winter World University Games comes to an end with the closing ceremonies. Some of us are disappointed to return home, while most are excited to get back and have some American food! Overall, our trip has been a phenomenal one and a time that none of us will ever forget! The people you meet and the things you experience are unlike that of any other. The experience itself is one for a lifetime, and we will all grow to cherish it. Thank you to everyone for supporting us.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

After losing our first two games to Canada and Slovakia, we may still be in medal contention. The first step will be to have a strong performance in Monday’s match-up versus Russia. The guys are still talking about when the U.S. University Select team upset Russia in the 2001 Games. Eighteen players from our 22- man squad went and watched Russia play Slovakia today. They looked really shifty and skilled; we know that we can beat them, but it will take a solid performance and a lot of physical play. We will need to stay out of the penalty box to be successful. Half of Russia’s players play in there top elite league and the other half play in the elite junior league; the two best leagues in Russia.

Everyone here is still having a blast. We went to the discotec the other night and made it an unforgettable night. We pulled up to Club Life with our charter bus and police escorts, and security took us directly into the building, cutting off the line of 150 people and took us to our VIP section. I think I could get used to this kind of living. It was an amazing time. Spirits are still high, but the food is still the same. During our days off, we are practicing and sight-seeing. Yesterday we went and watched the women’s synchronized skating team participate in its short program. It was impressive seeing all those girls in perfect synchronization. Today, a lot of us went and watched the women’s long track speed skating and the rest met up and had dinner with their families. Tonight, we are all focusing and preparing for tomorrow’s game. We know it will be a hard-fought battle and are anxiously waiting. For now, I am off to bed and will write again soon.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

After a grueling seven-hour plane ride, we finally arrived in Zurich, Switzerland. From there, we took an eight-hour double-decker bus ride through the Swiss and Italian Alps into the heart of Torino, Italy. The city is quite different than anything in America; the buildings are much older and the culture is very interesting. Torino has a population of approximately one million people. It is the home of “The Shroud of Turin” and many famous castles.

All of the athletes are staying in Olympic Village, which hosted the Olympic athletes just 11 short months ago. Most of the Americans are staying in one apartment building. Our apartment has four bedrooms, two bathrooms, and seven athletes. I am sharing a room with Lukas DeLorenzo from Penn State University. We do a lot of stuff inside of the village including eating our meals, getting connected to the internet, and various other things. The food here is good although every breakfast, lunch, and dinner is identical.

On Tuesday night, the hockey team went to Central (the center of Torino), where we saw many interesting and different things. The place we visited was a shopping district that hosts many famous Italian designers. In the center of this enormous square was a church, which was amazing. Inside of the church were many different statues and nativity sets. All of the statues were a gold color and very accurate.

Last night (Wednesday) we participated in and watched opening ceremonies. It was held in Olympic Stadium in front of a sold out crowd of 12,000 people. It was an honor to go out there and represent the United States of America. After all the athletes were introduced, we headed to our seats and watched the show. During the ceremonies, we watched the President of FISU speak, the World University Games flame being ignited, and many interesting and ethnic performances.

So far we are all having a great time and are very exited for our first game versus Canada later today. I will be writing again in a few days and keeping you informed of what’s happening with the U.S. University Select Team.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Hey Everyone,

My name is Michael Podelnyk. I am a junior forward at Western Michigan University and I will be keeping a diary to give you an inside look at Team USA’s experience at the Winter World University Games. Once we met in Laurel, Maryland on Friday, January 12th, the U.S. delegation had our first team practice.

The following night we played The University of West Virginia. After a 1-0 victory, I think everyone was pretty pleased with what they saw. We are leaving today to fly to Zurich, Switzerland. From there we are taking a 4-to-7 hour bus ride to Torino, Italy. The whole delegation is pretty excited to get there and play our first game on Thursday. We think we are going to do well and the general goal is to make it to the medal round, even though we will be facing tough Russian, Canadian and Slovakian teams in the round robin portion of the tournament.

Everything has been great so far; we have a really positive and great group of guys. Everyone is getting along well and starting to become friends. Although we haven’t been sleeping much, we have been eating very well and are having a lot of fun.

I will be keeping you informed of our experiences and will write again when I am in Torino!

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