No drills (at least with pucks), no scrimmages, no bench coaches...
Some might have found this morning's skating trials a bit dry (ok..boring). Not us. We were fascinated. Groups A and B didn't spend a lot of time on the ice (about an hour apiece), but it was chock full of fun... if you like toys and skating.
The guys were put through timing drills of several sorts -- a long sprint of the sort you might see at the skills competition (down and around the back of the net and a sprint to the finish), a short sprint (roughly blue line to blue line), an obstacle run (up and around one faceoff circle, down and around the other one, and then sprint to the finish line), and a stop-and-start run (from the top of the faceoff circle to the red line, back to the near blue line, then sprint to the far blue line).
There were a variety of styles on display -- choppy strides, fluid ones, the upright skater, the low-slung stealth guys -- but what we were noticing was the sound. The guys who were laboring really made a racket, their skates digging hard into the ice. Then there were those who made little sound at all, which struck us as a good deal more efficient.
Since we're dealing in tenths, if not hundreths of seconds of difference among skaters, it was hard to eyeball who was winning these drills, but there were some things that were expected (like Mathieu Perreault being quick as can be and very good in the obstacle run) and some things that weren't (like Joe Finley being quite nimble, even in the turns).
There were a couple of blown tires along the way -- Everett Sheen got a good-natured stick banging on the ice for his effort -- and a few do-overs, either because of stumbles or temperamental equipment. Speaking of which, the days of stop watches are gone (forgive us, we once used slide rules to do calculations). It's all digital and optical now with gizmos on tripods and receivers and all that.
For purposes of the drills, the guys were asked to line up alphabetically. We were wondering if anyone would screw this up (like the Russians, if they forgot for a moment that this was the English alphabet we were talking about... they didn't).
Oh, and don't think it escaped our attention that after one run, Perreault did his "gold medal finish/stick the landing" stop with a spray of ice after one run...
Here are a couple of pics (we apologize for getting that netting in such sharp focus)...