Ireland in Vierumaki – Day 6

(For today’s blog, we get some insight into the High Performance Camp from the IIHA’s Seanna Conway.)

Friday, 20th July

For Team Olympus, Friday the 20th of July 2012 brought a much coveted “lie-in” til 8am. We needed it though as the day ahead consisted of a pre-game skate, a late game versus Team Everest and other events throughout the day.

After breakfast we had a Seminar at 10am where Strength & Conditioning Mentors Steve Lidstone (Canada) and Dawn Strout (USA) went over the results of the fitness testing in detail. Every player was given a detailed explanation in writing about where they stand physically, i.e. what their strengths and weaknesses are. It was also explained where these players- National Team players and Olympic hopefuls- need to be on all of the fitness tests. Specific percentages for Olympic Gold, Silver and Bronze were laid out so the girls know where they are compared to current Olympians and where they need to be!

After the Seminar we had lunch and then a “Dryland Simulation” for the players. During these simulations, the girls go through various exercises with Power Skating experts Danielle Goyette and Marc Power, both of Canada. These exercises help players become stronger, faster and most importantly more efficient skaters. Danielle and Marc’s expertise will be invaluable for our Association as we can improve on our skating without ice!

After Dryland Simulations, the girls quickly got dressed for a pre-game skate. This session only lasted 45 minutes and was aimed at getting the legs warm and loose, energy levels up and the goalies confident. I worked with my goaltenders for 20 minutes on some warm-up movements and shots from different lengths and angles. Then we moved into some situational drills to get the goalies moving and reading the play. Our Team Ambassador Iya Gavrilova fired pucks at my goalies at lightning speed. The goalies then joined the rest of the team for flow drills, and a shoot out to finish off the pre-game skate.

Dinner was at 5pm. The coaches sat together and so did the players. Everyone looked ready and excited to play. We left for the rink and the athletes got changed for an off-ice warm-up with our Strength & Conditioning Coach Armin Streibl of Austria. On-ice warm up looked great and the girls were skating hard and driving to the net. Unfortunately, the game itself was slightly frustrating for our players as we outshot Team Everest by a wide margin but we could not capitalize on our chances. Our starting Goalie Tanya Mozhayeva of Kazakhstan played hard and did everything she could but Everest got lucky and got a few scrappy goals, while we were continuously unlucky hitting several posts throughout each period. Final score was 7-2 for Everest. Although this was not the result we had hoped for, our girls remained positive about everything they did right and they focused on Saturday’s upcoming match, leaving Friday’s defeat behind them.

After the game, the players grabbed a late meal in the Athlete’s Lounge. This Lounge was a really great idea implemented by the IIHF and their nutritionist Pearle Nerenberg. It was constantly stacked with healthy and energizing pre-game snacks. There were also posters all over the room indicating when it is best to eat the particular foods laid out for them, i.e. how many minutes/hours before game time. The Athlete’s Lounge was a great tool to reinforce the Nutrition seminar.

Before we knew it, it was 11:30pm and time for bed. Although the value of the High Performance Camp experience might seem little for an Association struggling to secure ice time, I assure you the experience has been invaluable, informative, challenging and exactly what the IIHA needs. Tanya Foley, Camp Coordinator and IIHF Women’s Program Manager, has explained on several occasions how the High Performance Camp is meant to mimic how the Top Division World Championships run and accordingly, how the athletes should be training and what level they should expect from their bodies. Not only the athletes but the Staff as well, are learning how the Top Division works and how to manage the work load- Managers, Coaches, Goalie Coaches, etc. For our U18, U20, Senior Men’s and Senior Women’s programs to improve every year, we need to be setting our sights high and challenging ourselves to execute all aspects of High Performance. This is every last detail from timing of meals to teaching goalies proper recovery techniques on the ice. Competing on the International Level is a year-round commitment, not just a week in the Spring.

As an athlete who still hopes to compete and a goalie coach, I am really looking forward to passing all of my experiences of Vierumaki on for our National Team programs and all other development programs.

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