Gold medal winner heads for fourth Olympic Winter Games.
Handling a puck and skating at the same time is a difficult chore, but not for Olympic athlete Jenny Potter.
“There’s a lot of action, it’s a constant up and down,” Potter told me in a recent interview.
Potter is a top player on the U.S. Olympic women's hockey team. A forward, she is experienced when it comes to winning gold. She was part of the gold medal U.S. hockey team at the 1998 games in Nagano, Japan. She helped lead the team to victory after scoring two goals and three assists in six games.
“I was pretty young, I was just there to enjoy the moment,” Potter said. “I don’t think it really set in to what we really accomplished until I got home.”
Potter described the golden moment when the entire team piled onto the goalie.
“It was a pretty special moment,” she said. “Something that you dream about growing up as a kid.”
Potter and team U.S.A. won silver at the Salt Lake games in 2002 and bronze in Torino, Italy, in 2006. She was the top scorer for the U.S. at the Torino games.
“It’s a great honor,” she said of her medals, while acknowledging that no one person can claim the victories. “It’s a team sport.”
As Potter prepared for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, Canada, she described an average day in her life. She starts with a morning skate, usually followed by a luncheon event. She then works out in the weight room at the U.S. Olympic training center in Colorado Springs. After a recovery period, everyone gets together for a team meeting.
Her workout routine ranges from power to speed lifting. Power lifting combines a lot of weight and low repetitions. Speed lifting combines lower weight and quicker movements. Team practices focus on refining skill, power play, and small games.
“I love working out hard, and paying the price,” Potter said. “Not every day is easy, but that’s what makes it fun.”
Hockey requires intense skill and concentration, combined with strength and agility.
“There’s so many skills that hockey requires that other sports may not require,” Potter said. “Skating in itself is kind of an acquired skill.”
Potter played tackle football as a kid—until the boys got too big. She was also a competitive swimmer.
“I kind of knew that I wasn’t going to make it to the Olympics in swimming,” she said. So, at the age of 14 she took up hockey. “I just decided I was going to make hockey my goal and be in the Olympics.”
At that time, hockey was a male-dominated sport, even in her home state of Minnesota where hockey is king.
“People were thinking that girls probably can’t play hockey,” she said. “That’s probably part of the reason why I’m the player I am today, because some of the barriers I’ve had to fight to play hockey. It really made me want to be out there and show people that I can play hockey.”
This big-time hockey player wants to get her message across to young girls who might also be interested in playing the game.
“Any barrier makes you a stronger person, so stick to what you believe in and go for it,” she advised. “Basically, you can achieve anything you want.”
Team U.S. will be facing Finland in the coming days. Potter will go into that game with no expectations but to play her very best.
“If you have no expectations, you don’t worry about failing,” she said. Competing in the Olympic Games is the “pinnacle of your sport,” she concluded. For Potter, it is living out her dream.
PHOTO: Team USA's Jenny Potter (12) at the February 4 Quest Tour Pre Olympic Exhibition match between Finland and Team USA in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Team USA defeated Finland 5-1.
(Photo Credit: Larry Clouse/Cal Sport Media/ZUMApress.com)