A gold-medal Olympian, still hitting the ice
Sixteen years down the road, U.S. women's ice hockey champ Alana Blahoski looks back on her win at Nagano
Thu Feb 6 2014
Photograph: Erica Gannett
The athlete won a gold medal at the Nagano Olympics in 1998 as part of the U.S. women’s ice-hockey team. With the Sochi Games upon us, Blahoski reflects on what it’s like to be a champ.
How’d you get into hockey?
I grew up in Minnesota, and my dad was an ice-hockey coach. He coached my two brothers, and he’d bring me along and let me just run around. One day he put me on the ice with them, and I was like, “I love this! I wanna do it all the time.”
How did you end up at the Olympics?
I played ice hockey all throughout high school and then at Providence College, so I was on the radar because I competed so much. I got invited to train for the team, and let me tell you, that was the hardest I’ve ever pushed myself.
But you made it!
I did, and the whole experience was wonderful. But looking back, I wouldn’t do it again. It’s your sole focus. And it’s all physical. You have emotions that come—hopes, fears—but then you don’t process them. You just deflect them and put them into your physical activity. And you have to be so selfish when you’re an Olympic athlete. I had tunnel vision. And then once you’re done competing, you’re like, Wow.… There’s so much more out there.
What are you doing these days?
I’m an ice-hockey coach at Chelsea Piers. Connecting with my clients brings me such joy—I’m much more focused on my emotional growth now. I used to avoid relationships because I thought they were a distraction. But now I’m in one, and I love my dogs, my travels, my life.… Maybe those feelings would be different if I hadn’t won a gold medal, though. Because when you achieve what you’ve always wanted, it’s a little easier to move on to something else.
What’s your coaching philosophy?
I want to be as impactful as I can. As a coach, you have a responsibility to make someone better, or to make them realize that they can do whatever it is that they want to do. And I don’t take that responsibility lightly.
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Editor: Marley Lynch (@marleyasinbob)