May 29, 2013 - 8:39 AM
Texting, Twitter and Skype means never having to say goodbye for two world-class hockey players.
Meaghan Mikkelson and Brianne Jenner are two of the 27 players on Canada's national women's team training at the South Okanagan Events Centre from now to June 19. The team is prepping for centralization in Calgary and the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
The roster has three goaltenders, nine defencemen and 15 forwards. The boot camp roster also features 13 gold medalists from the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.
These days the road poses no challenge to staying in touch with family and friends. Mikkelson, 28, and Jenner, 22, are in constant contact. The team just arrived in Penticton yesterday.
"Come August we will all be in Calgary full time and then we'll be on the road a ton in Austria and Russia," Mikkelson said. "We don't know where we are going to be."
This is Mikkelson's sixth year with the team and she still loves the business. This time out she took her pillow and a teddy bear her husband gave her at Easter.
"We just get to be hockey players," Jenner said. "That's probably the number one thing. You get to do what you love all day."
"Living the dream," Mikkelson added.
"Yeah, exactly. On road trips, on the bus... That's kind of where team bonding happens."
Being a part of the national team has perks. Players have equipment managers, physiotherapists, massage therapists and nutritionists looking out for them.
Jenner said Hockey Canada makes sure the team has everything so it can perform.
This type of treatment is not typical. Even in the Canadian Women's Hockey League, players need to grab their own meals and stock their own gear. "It's completely different from being on the road with the national team," Mikkelson said.
It doesn't mean the team is immune to hardship. Mikkelson was in China in 2008 for her first world championship.
"I don't think I knew what to expect when going over there. I was a rookie. I've been to Europe but Europe is a lot more Americanized than China is," she said.
"It was a bit of a culture shock for me. There were no toilets in the dressing room. In China they have holes in the ground in a lot of places. We still talk about it years later, the dressing room in China that had no toilet."
Their Chinese hosts also tried to make an American-style buffet for all the players. "There was a McDonald's down the street so one of the meat items was just a big thing of chicken McNuggets."
"You have to be prepared to deal with random things being thrown your way," Mikkelson said. "It makes for funny stories and good times."
To contact a reporter for this story, email Shannon Quesnel at firstname.lastname@example.org, call 250-488-3065 or tweet @shannonquesnel1
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013