Tales from team building in Jasper
Although I'm now in my hotel room (top item on my Thanksgiving list: complimentary wireless internet), I've spent half of my day in the animated Jasper Arena and the other half enjoying the spectacular Rocky Mountain vistas.
Steve and I drove up yesterday and headed to the Jasper Arena early this morning to catch the players, coaches, and management riding into town on their mountain bikes. (Edit: Okay, since Dan spilled the beans in his blog, I'll be honest and add that I didn't actually see this happen. Dan and I dug into some tasty bacon and eggs at the hotel while Steve grabbed the biker gang footage. But I was there in spirit.) The team is staying at the stunning Jasper Park Lodge, which is about 5km outside the town itself, and they are biking to and from the rink every morning. With temps hovering around freezing and some snow blowing in at around noon, it must have been a crisp and refreshing ride.
This morning's practice was open to the public, and the place was packed with Oilers fans, young and old. Kids were especially excited to be there: not only did they get to see their favourite NHLers in action, but they also got a few hours off school to do it. Best day ever!
We spoke to a few people in the crowd and the general sentiment was that of excitement – not only about team being in Jasper, but about the team in general and the upcoming season. The good vibes emanating from Rexall Place have spread throughout Oil Country, and this remote mountain town is definitely on the map.
THE COURSE, OF COURSE
After practice and a quick lunch, we drove out to the Lodge and joined the team on the golf course. Although we were simply observing, I can't imagine a more beautiful place to spend a few hours snapping pictures. Steve and I set ourselves up on the 11th tee, and as the players and staff came through to tee off, everyone was in awe of the view. It had stopped snowing by this point, and with the sun out and the leaves changing colour, it was seriously one of my top two golf experiences.
While we're on the topic, my #1 golf experience also happened this afternoon. Although I worked at a golf course for three summers in a former life, I had never swung a golf club (a tragedy, I know). But with some encouragement from Oilers Media Relations Manager JJ Hebert, I stepped up to the tee and drove the ball straight down the fairway (okay, maybe a little to the right, but pretty much straight). And it went pretty far. I'd say 300 yards, but others might say 75.
Not only did I hit my first ball excellently(ish), I also out-drove Pat Garland (Team Services Coordinator), who is a notoriously excellent golfer. I was pretty excited about this – that is until Stephen Lines (Massage Therapist) showed up with the next group and made me give a second demonstration, which went a lot worse than the first. But we can just ignore that part.
MORE TO COME
Anyway, everyone had a terrific time on the golf course (except for maybe Pat) and we are all looking forward to spending a few more days together. Click HERE to check out my blog photos thus far. I'll add to the gallery as the days go by, and be sure to check out Steve's videos on Oilers TV. We're trying to get everything up as quickly as possible, but with all the golfing and sightseeing and stopping to take photos of elk on the side of the road, our schedules are pretty busy.