Good news for Team Canada. They won’t be staying three to a room at the Athletes Village at the Winter Olympics.
So there’ll be a little more room on and off the ice for them at Sochi.
A tour of the Athletes Village earlier this week included a room with three beds, which seemed like slumming for millionaire athletes used to chocolates on their pillows.
But Canadian chef de mission Steve Podborski said Thursday that the three-bed room was a one-off, with the NHLers sleeping two to a room when they get here.
“We just happened to open a door on a room that had our bobsledders going in, because they were transferring from the airport, spending the night, getting their bag of gear and then heading up (to the mountains) the next day. So we just tossed them in the room. And it was in the hockey building.
“They’re two to a room,” he added of the NHLers. “They’ll be fine.”
Other than newcomers on rookie deals, NHL players get their own rooms on the road during the season.
At a Canadian Olympic Committee news conference Thursday, a reporter raised the question of how the hockey players might react to life in the Village, noting it was very different to what they’re used to.
COC president Marcel Aubut and Podborski both said it was not an issue.
“The players insisted to be in the Village ... They want to be part of the Olympics,” said Aubut.
“Don Fehr (executive director of the NHL Players Association) told me at one point they want to be treated (the same way) and also be with other Olympians, same level. They feel comfortable about this,” he added.
The alpine skiers stayed in the hockey building before heading up to the mountains and raved about the view of the Baltic Sea.
Podborski said athletes want to be part of the Canadian community in the Village.
“It’s a privilege to be part of the Canadian Olympic team ... You’re lucky to get in the Village.”
While the standard of accommodations outside the Olympic bubble has come under question, the Athletes Village has received positive reviews. Organizers say 80 per cent of the athletes can walk to their venues because of the Games’ compact layout.
Canadian curler Jennifer Jones raved about the facilities Thursday.
“The accommodations are beyond incredible. It’s more than we could have asked for. The cafeteria, the food has been great ... We just can’t stop smiling.”
Curling coach Elaine Dagg-Jackson, at her fifth Games, said everything has been “perfect.”
“This is the first time that curling has actually stayed the whole time in the Village,” she said. “We were always a little bit worried about what Village life would be like but Sochi’s done a slam dunk here at this village, because we just can’t believe how wonderful the accommodations are.
“The coaches are thrilled with the things that have been put in place for our athletes. They’re going to be comfortable, they’re going to be rested, they’re going to be fuelled, they’re going to be taken care of.”
They will also have fun, according to Podborski.
The Canadian chef de mission noted the athletes have a lounge to themselves at the Village, complete with table-tennis, foosball and other games.
The competition there has already been “epic,” said Podborski, whose room is near the lounge.
“The athletes’ lounge, the greatest invention in the history of the Canadian Olympic Committee, is their place. We don’t go in, he (Aubut) doesn’t go in. Nobody goes in but the athletes.”
According to Podborski, the only Canadian Olympians not staying at the Village are the women’s cross-country team.
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