Shannon Szabados

Shannon Szabados: Oilers welcomed me with open arms (video)

1 Comment

Shannon Szabados said she wasn’t nervous practicing with the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday.

The Canadian women’s national team’s No. 1 said she got a call from Oilers coach Dallas Eakins after Tuesday night’s 3-2 win over the Senators, asking her if she had her gear and if she wanted to practice Wednesday.

“Not a bad week and a half,” Szabados, 27, said. “Gold medal in Sochi and practicing with the Oilers. Doesn’t get much better.”

Szabados was called on because the Oilers were short on goalies after Tuesday trades. A male reinforcement is on the way, so she’s not looking to get into a game yet.

One woman has played in the NHL — 1998 Canadian Olympic goalie Manon Rheaume in exhibition games in 1992 and 1993.

Szabados, who has said a goal is to play men’s professional hockey, knew some of the players already and actually played against another Oilers goalie, Ben Scrivens, in juniors.

What was the significance of a woman practicing with an NHL team?

“Hopefully, maybe just open some eyes,” said Szabados, who played against men in juniors and at the university level as recently as last year. “As a hockey player, and as a female hockey player, you just want to be seen as a hockey player and as a goalie. That’s what I felt like today. The Oilers welcomed me with open arms, just another player on the ice with maybe a little longer hair than the rest of them.”

Oilers GM Craig MacTavish said on Tuesday that Szabados playing in a game could be something the team considered but not at this point in time.

The Oilers skaters were impressed by her Wednesday.

“She was great today,” center Sam Gagner said. “It was nice to have her out. Obviously, we all watched that gold-medal game. It was awesome to watch, so I’m sure it was a thrill for her to be out here. It was fun for us as well.”

Szabados, who skates with NHL players in the summer, was tested in a shootout in the latter part of practice.

“You don’t see much net,” right wing Jordan Eberle said. “She moves well. … Once you kind of figured out that she was pretty good, you’re trying to score and put as many in as you can.”

Russia Olympic hockey coach done after poor Sochi showing

Pyeongchang Olympic organizers optimistic with 500 days to go

Security personnel stands by a logo of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games before an event to mark the start of the 500-day countdown in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016. With 500 days until the Olympic cauldron is ignited in Pyeongchang, organizers of the 2018 Winter Games say 90 percent of construction on new venues is complete and the focus of preparations is on test events. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
AP Images
Leave a comment

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Marking the 500-day countdown to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, organizers said Tuesday that 90 percent of construction of new venues is complete and the focus is now on preparing for test events.

Pyeongchang’s organizing committee said construction is on schedule for a series of sports competitions scheduled from November to April that will serve as rehearsals for the Olympics, which begin Feb. 9, 2018.

The six new competition venues for the games are now 88 percent complete and a new high-speed rail line – designed to link the country’s main gateway of Incheon airport with Pyeongchang in less than two hours – will be completed next June and start operations in January 2018, organizers said.

The preparations are undergoing a transition from the “planning phase to operational readiness,” the organizing committee said in a statement.

“Asia has immeasurable potential to become the frontier of winter sports. Pyeongchang has been dedicated to promote winter sports and attract investments throughout Asia,” the committee said.

Noting that the 2018 Games will be the first of three consecutive Olympics in Asia, the committee said Pyeongchang will be an “opportunity to establish even closer links among the next host countries and build bridges through sports.”

Tokyo will host the 2020 Summer Olympics, while Beijing will stage the 2022 Winter Games.

Pyeongchang organizers have overcome delays, local conflicts over venue constructions and difficulties attracting domestic sponsorships in past years. Optimism over preparations has increased after the successful hosting of the first round of test events at Alpine venues earlier this year.

Despite a slow start, organizers say more than 80 percent of the domestic sponsorship target of $850 million has been met and that they expect to reach 90 percent of the target by the end of the year.

A program of cultural events featuring pop singers and local sports stars was held in Seoul on Tuesday evening to mark the start of the countdown.

MORE: 500 Days to Pyeongchang: Five athletes to watch

500 Days to Pyeongchang: Five athletes to watch

PARK CITY, UT - FEBRUARY 06:  Chloe Kim celebrates a first place finish in the ladies' FIS Snowboard World Cup at the 2016 U.S Snowboarding Park City Grand Prix on February 6, 2016 in Park City, Utah.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Today marks 500 days until the Opening Ceremony of 2018 Winter Olympics.

Below are five U.S. athletes to get to know before February 9, 2018:

Ryan Bailey (Bobsled): Bailey, who finished fifth as a sprinter in the London Olympic 100m, is attempting to compete at the 2018 Olympics as a bobsledder. On Sept. 21, just weeks into his bobsled career, he won the men’s push athlete national title. The last male Summer Olympian to make a U.S. Olympic bobsled team was Willie Davenport in 1980.

MORE: Converted sprinter Ryan Bailey wins bobsled national title

Brittany Bowe and Heather Richardson (Speed Skating): Bowe and Richardson have been trading world records in recent years. Last November, Bowe broke her own women’s 1000m world record, only to have Richardson lower it just three minutes later. A week later, Bowe broke the world record in the event once again.

MORE: Dan Jansen explains recent flurry of world records

Meryl Davis and Charlie White (Figure Skating): The future is uncertain for Davis and White, who became the first U.S. couple to win an Olympic ice dance title in Sochi. They have not competed since the 2014 Olympics, but they have also not announced their retirement.

MORE: Where Meryl Davis, Charlie White stand on possible comeback

Chloe Kim (Snowboarding): Kim mathematically qualified for the 2014 U.S. Olympic team in halfpipe, but at 13, she was not old enough to be eligible to compete in Sochi. A U.S. woman has won gold in the event at three of the past four Olympics, but Kaitlyn Farrington, who won halfpipe gold in Sochi, retired after being diagnosed with a spinal condition.

MORE: Kaitlyn Farrington retires from snowboarding

Mikaela Shiffrin (Alpine Skiing): Shiffrin became the youngest Olympic slalom champion at the 2014 Games, when she was 18. Four years later, she is hoping to become the first Alpine skier — man or woman — to repeat as slalom gold medalist. She also could become the first U.S. women’s Alpine skier to win gold medals in multiple Olympics.