Behind the Scenes at the 2012 World Junior Championships Part 1
This is a three part feature that will be running at 5-hole as a behind the scenes look at the World Juniors. I am currently a volunteer at the tournament, and basically the only out of towner from the United States. Part 2 will run after Canada’s first practice at Calgary, and Part 3 will cover the Medal Round. No I cannot tell you why the US Team sucks and if Sven Bartschi will play in Switzerland’s next game. Go away.
Starting Boxing day every year the nation of Canada shuts down for about 10 days. The reason why? The annual World Junior Hockey Championships. Every year the best 10 teams of U20 players in the world, usually the next generation of NHL stars, gather to compete to see which country has the best crop of young players. Basically its pretty much a huge fucking deal in Canada, while the rest of the world just hopes to knock them off and play some good hockey.
Being one of the 10 people in the United States who actually knows about this awesome tournament, I naturally applied for a ticket package. Yes, you had to apply for a ticket package. For the 2011 tournament in Buffalo, I bought a package in October 3 months before the games, booked a hotel, and got to watch a lot of awesome hockey. For Calgary/Edmonton I didn’t even win the opportunity to attempt to purchase a ticket package. Apparently over 100,000 people applied for packages, which is just insane.
Facing a World Juniors-less Winter Break, I naturally did what anyone would do: apply to be a volunteer. Yes, I was willing to schlep my New jersey born ass up to Calgary or Edmonton, Alberta just so I could watch some 19 year olds play hockey. Personal Note: I am well aware this is basically the reason I don’t have a girlfriend now. I guess I used the right buzzwords or something because a few months later I got an email from Hockey Canada saying that I was on the Media Ops team for Calgary! Woo! Hockey Winter Break alone in Calgary Accomplished!
After a tedious registration process, in which the government of Canada kept denying a background check for me, I booked my flight and hotel with about a week to go. Seriously, I handled this all wrong and almost didn’t even get to go because of my stupidity. A few days before the tournament, I flew out to Calgary and explored the city. That was fun, then on Boxing day it was time to start volunteering! Problem is, I had no orientation, no uniform, and had to take a taxi out to my first shift! Disorganization aside, its been awesome learning what I’ve been doing on the job because I lucked into an awesome volunteering position here.
The job of our team is essentially to cater to the media and facilitate them in anything they need. We make sure everyone is in the right seats in the press box, the press box is stocked with their usual amenities, figure out what interview requests they have, make sure the requested players show up for interviews, and help the media cover practices. Our job is to be in the press box for the games, and as it has been pretty quiet so far (Canada is still in Edmonton while I am in Calgary) we basically get to watch all the games in the pressbox when we are not at the practice facility. I never want to watch a hockey game anywhere else. Hey Eric can you work on getting accreditation for us? Awesome, thanks.
When we are not being the media’s bitch at games, we help make sure the media is not doing anything dumb at practices (its very hard when they are open), and that their interview requests are taken into consideration. Overall its been really cool being behind the scenes. I’ll have more fun stuff to talk about when Canada arrives, but as for now it hasn’t been that crazy and I am just enjoying the tournament. Stay tuned for part 2, and um I got nothing on the USA. We blow.
About the author: Aaron is an international studies student from a small town in New Jersey that no one has heard of, although he's been relocated to Atlanta, Georgia. While he isn't studying or trying to prove Thrashers fans exists, Aaron is on a never ended quest to defend Wade Redden's name. His all time favorite Rangers is Brian Leetch, but other favorites include Henrik Lundqvist, Markus Naslund, and the rest of the Swedish National Team.