JANUARY 5, 2011

Happy New Year, Team USA!  What a year it has been for me and I’ve been having so much fun sharing it all with you.  Honestly, words cannot describe what this year has meant for me.  As I rang in the New Year with my old start coach and some very good friends in my adopted home of Calgary, I couldn’t help but think back four years.  New Years 2007 had seen a terribly disappointing Olympic year in 2006.  The 2006 Olympic Games weren’t about whether my USA 1 teammates Todd Hays, Pavle Jovanovic and Brock Kreitzburg, and myself were going to medal; it was simply about which color we would come home with.  All we came back with was a 7th place result and a lot of heartache. It was the hardest thing I had gone through up to that point…to be so close yet so far all at once was devastating.  I had no idea whether I’d ever have a chance like that again and it haunted me for a long time.  Was that it?  Would I ever get that chance again? 

What I did not realize though was after having taken the first half of the season off of the World Cup Tour to give my body and soul some extra rest heading into the new quadrennial, the turn of the new year into 2007 would begin to bring together a team that would change my life forever.  For the second weekend of January 2007 marked my first World Cup race with the new USA 1 pilot, Steven Holcomb.  ‘Holcy’ and I had been friends for years.  We’d started the Holcy Dance years before being on the same team and I’d watched him turn into an amazing driver during that time.  We won our first World Cup 4-man race together, then the second, then the third. Pavle and Brock were eventually replaced by Curt Tomasevicz and Justin Olsen, but the gauntlet had been set and Team Holcomb (soon to be Team Night Train) never looked back.  A year of failure spurned just the drive and determination I would need to fuel 4 years of incredible work and focus to accomplish my lifelong dream.

And just before last Friday’s celebration with friends, I was in my hometown of Buffalo, NY to take part in festivities for the World Junior Hockey Tournament. I was able to hang out with Buffalo’s hockey idols “The French Connection” and their 1970’s nemesis Bernie Parent.

I was also able to get to a few hockey games and watch our American boys beat up on Finland and Slovakia while living out there dreams, playing in the biggest tournament of their young careers.

(Picture: Left to right, Steve Mesler, Rick Martin, Gilbert Pereault, René Robert)

I was also able to learn about being a journalist. I played email tag with the great PR and Communications guys from USA Hockey, Dave Fischer and Alex Clark. I had been scheduled to interview a couple of the players and it ended up being pushed back a day after Coach Allain decided to cancel a practice.  What did I learn?  Getting an interview as a member of the press is not easy and is never timely…whoda thunk it??? I was always sooo accommodating and easy to get a hold of for interviews during my biggest competitions :-D

But my time finally came and the guys were great.  I spoke with Mitch Callahan and Pat Wey after their morning skate the day of the Germany game, which they won 4-0 in front of another raucous Buffalo crowd. I spent the days before interviewing them asking all of you what you wanted to know.  Thanks to some great fan questions that came from Facebook and Twitter, the interview began…

  And there you have it, the first ‘real’ interviews of my career.  (I’m not counting when Justin Olsen and I asked ESPN’s Howard Bryant about his opinion on global warming after the Olympic Press Conference last February.)  Thanks for the great questions everyone!

Well, as 2011 begins I hope you all can look back at your 2010 and smile.  And remember, if you can’t, there might be some amazing things yet to come. Never forget your failures, but forgive them. Then use them to fuel your future.