Hi friends, we are here today to watch the most powerful Russian hockey team, with some of the most powerful Russian hockey players, that will be going to the Olympics very soon. SKA’s Hockey players start the day off early. We arrived at the stadium at the same time they did and I must say it’s a totally different place when it’s completely empty. The whole team has a morning training session which would tire me out for the entire day. Even in practice they were hitting the pucks so hard that often it looked just like a blur. How the goalies can see them coming is a mystery. With no audience around I could really appreciate the sounds of hockey. I asked the senior trainer a few questions from our audience. In short he said that their training schedule does not get affected by the Olympics at all, everything is business as usual and interestingly enough the only real difference between hockey in Russia and elsewhere is that the ice is “faster” in other countries. One sad player was left to do extra exercises by himself. I don’t know if it was to help out a younger guy or some type of punishment but he had many brutal skating exercises to do. I need to get better at skating. I can barely go backwards and this guy is jumping and making 90 degree turns. Pro hockey requires an army behind the scenes to keep the players in action. There are all sorts of facilities below the stadium and we were allowed to visit the workshop they fix and sharpen the skates. So here we are in the locker room. In just a few minutes the hockey players are going to arrive and it’s going to get pretty nuts in here. You might be wondering who plays for this team? What legends might you know? Well, we have right here #17 Kovalchuk, #13 Datsuk, and if you look all the way over there you can see Shestyorkin’s jersey which I believe is #30. A pretty legendary goalkeeper. So yeah, as you can see everything sort of has the team style. Very cool. Very neat in here. Got some drinks on the table and plenty of hockey sticks because as you know they can break sometimes. I kind of want to take one. Will they notice? ‘How long does it take you to sharpen an entire team’s skates?’ “Well, each skate takes about two to three minutes… yeah, because you need to freshen them up and get them nice and sharp. And it’s a slow process because the metal has to be made perfectly smooth for the match.” The players left the stadium earlier to do a “dry training session” – by dry they mean off the ice. They returned by bus as the sun was starting to set, which in St. Petersburg in winter is actually pretty early. SKA’s season has gone fantastically and they lead the league so there were plenty of fans pouring in to see the club’s last match for this year. SKA does not stand for the genre of music, which is actually very popular in St. Petersburg, but for the “Sports Club of the Army” – hence the military themes you may see around the stadium. On a side note: I will never forget the smell of so many hot dogs. The team mascot – “Fire Horse” (which rhymes in Russian) – was nice enough to give us a special tour of the ice. You know for being the mascot he is quite the ladies’ man, the cheerleaders were enthralled by him before the match. In order to help Russians learn the current version of the national anthem the voice cut out after a while to let the audience carry the tune by themselves. It’s always something magical when you are at a sporting event with really hardcore fans. You can feel the energy of people who are really into it. It was definitely a wild game and the place seemed to be sold out. After the match the head coach gave a press conference. Although the team had the best record in the league this final match was an overtime loss. I never understand the point of sports interviews, the athlete’s really can’t say much contractually and what can you really say after losing. Yeah sports interviews are just dumb… speaking of which. Kovalchuk was not too thrilled to hear questions from our audience through the filter of an American accent after losing a match that was very winnable. I don’t blame him, but yeah, in the future I will only interview people that I can actually take in a fist fight. They say Michael Jordan couldn’t stand losing even one game under any circumstances. Well great athletes think alike I guess. Well guys, our little hockey adventure has come to an end. Sadly for SKA things didn’t go so well today but that doesn’t matter because they kind of already took the league. And the Olympics are soon. Yes the Olympics. Where a lot of these guys are going to get the chance to represent Russia and hopefully take home the gold. But one thing I’d like you to walk away with, one little piece of information, is you know, we started filming at like 10 a.m. and it’s about midnight right now and those hockey players… They’re still in the locker room. Still going over their strategy, still talking, hockey is a serious job! That’s a lot of hours man, a lot of hours.