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2/9/2002
Opening Night At The Olympics

by Robby Granato

Salt Lake City, UT - When I was asked if I wanted to write a column for ITC, I immediately said yes. I had been to 2 other Olympics, 1988 Calgary & 1998 Nagano, and looking back I wished I would have kept a daily journal of our trip. Don't get me wrong, those experiences I will never forget but some things are forgotten over time. And being at an The Olympics is an amazing experience. There is so much excitement in the air. And you don't want to forget anything about experiences like that. So here I am writing down my experiences and sharing them with you. Thanks to everyone at ITC for this opportunity.

On to opening ceremonies!

Last night was amazing! It was my first opening ceremony. In 1988 I remember taping it because I had a game and watched it later that night. In 1998 we had a party with relatives and had a TV crew filming us watching the opening ceremonies. Those were both exciting but being almost nothing compared to being there in person.

The night started out with security on everyone's minds. You were warned to arrive at least 2 hours before the start time because of the tightened security. There were metal detectors, bomb sniffing dogs, FBI, police, military, and volunteers everywhere. We noticed a sniper stationed on the tops of buildings surrounding the stadium and the Blackhawk helicopters patrolling the skies Ö..it was a little scary. Then you think back to what happened in September and you realize it is unfortunately all necessary.

When the ceremonies began, all of the security was quickly forgotten and the night was filled with emotion. It started when the flag from the World Trade Center was carried in and 55,000 people went absolutely silent! After the short tribute to September 11th, the energy of the show picked up.

Dancers, singers, performers, and fireworks were amazing. The night was filled with emotion. The parade of athletes, the Olympic oath, the Olympic flag being raised, President Bush, and then the final torch run.

To see Cammi carrying the Olympic torch up the stairs 10 seconds before it was to be lit was incredible. Cammi had to keep all of that a secret so nobody knew. I was saying to my wife over and over, "can you believe this, can you believe this?". The entire Granato family was more than a little choked up at that moment. I asked Cammi afterwards how she felt when she was running up those stairs and then realized how stupid a question it was and answered it myself. She felt like she was carrying the Olympic torch at the opening ceremonies with the entire world watching.

What a night! What a show!

2/9/2002
Saturday At The Olympics

by Robby Granato

Salt Lake City, UT - Saturday was a recuperation day. We needed to regroup after the emotional Friday night opening ceremonies. We spent most of the day at the AT&T Family Center where US athletes can meet with their families. We watched some of the men's hockey on TV. Tony was excited to see Germany beat Slovakia because he has a close friend and ex-teammate, Marco Sturm (San Jose Sharks) on the German team.

I sat and talked with Cammi's teammates Katie King and Julie Chu for a few minutes. Katie is one of my favorite players to watch. Power and finesse is a lethal combination and she combines both in her style of play. Most of the talk was about the ceremonies from the night before. Katie also said she enjoyed meeting President Bush, Cal Ripken and Lance Armstrong at the athletes party before the opening ceremonies. She was excited about her Cal Ripken autograph and her picture with Lance Armstrong.

A few of us went down to the first metal ceremonies of the Olympics. Every night there is a concert and then the medals that were won during the day are given out. It was pretty cold and windy but the Dave Mathews concert and medal ceremony was pretty cool. The US earned our first metal, a silver, in the women's moguls and we saw that be awarded.

Tomorrow we have another full day. Some of us are heading up to Park City to watch the women's snowboarding in the morning, some shopping downtown and of course some pin trading.

2/12/2002
Tuesday At The Olympics

by Robby Granato

It is finally here, Cammi's first game. The Granato's are ready! There are 20 family members here to help cheer on team USA against Germany. Back at home I am sure our other relatives are watching on TV. We actually have a family business in the Chicago area where a lot of my cousin, aunts and uncles all work. They went and bought a satellite dish yesterday so they could watch all the games live from the office.

We arrived at the E-Center about an hour before the game and security was again very tight. More metal detectors, pat downs and bag searching like the previous few days. All of that didn't seem to damper the enthusiasm of the crowd. The U-S-A, U-S-A chant began before the game even started. It was amazing how much red, white and blue was in the crowd. It was nice to see. The flag is back.

Both teams played a tentative first period. Team Germany played tight defensively allowing most of the 14 US shots on goal from long range. However the period ended with the US up 2 to 0 with goals by Karyn Bye, who finished with 2g & 2a, and Laurie Baker.

In the second period, the US took advantage of some Team Germany defensive breakdowns and added four more goals. Some very unselfish play by the US with some nice passing led to some pretty goals.

The third period was much of the same. The US added an additional four goal to make it a 10 to 0 final score. Cammi scored a powerplay goal late in the game as she tipped in a great shot from Karyn Bye. It was nice to see her get one. She had a few real good scoring chances early in the game that forced in the German goalie making some nice saves.

All in all, it was a good first game for Team USA. They seemed to relax more and more as the game went along.

Thursday is game 2 for the US at the Peaks Ice Center against China.

2/14/2002
Woman's Hockey Team Defeats China

by Robby Granato

There have been no big surprises thus far in the womenís Preliminary round. Canada & the US both won their first 2 games rather easily. Both teams face their toughest opponents in their 3rd game. Canada will face Sweden Friday and the US will play Finland on Saturday.

The only real surprise thus far is that the US gave up a goal against in their victory over China today. The US played a more relaxed game and dominated the game from the start. The US scored early and often and won handily 12 to 1. It was another strong team effort with scoring contributions from all 4 of the forward lines. Cammi scored a hat trick with two first period goals and a third period tally. And Katie King & Laurie Baker added 2 goals apiece.

After the game I spoke with US forward Karyn Bye for a few minutes and here is what she said about the first 2 games. "We just try and keep playing hard for the entire 60 minutes (no matter what the score is). You can't let up in case there is a tiebreaker later in the tournament where goal differential can come into play. We don't necessarily like to run up the score on anybody but we have to keep playing hard. You can't just turn it on and off. We wish all of our games were as competitive as the menís games but that time will come. Now we are looking forward to the challenge of the next game against Finland on Saturday."

2/18/2002
Another Women's Olympic Update

by Robby Granato

Team USA women finished the preliminary round Saturday with a 5-0 win over Team Finland. Natalie Darwitz led the offense by scoring a hat trick and goalie Sara Decosta held Finland scoreless for her second shutout of the Olympics.

The Finish team provided Team USA with their first real challenge of the tournament. After the US took a 1-0 lead midway into the first period, they were whistled for back to back penalties that gave Finland a 5-on-3 power play for over a minute. Sara Decosta made several great saves that kept Finland off the scoreboard. Her best save was made on a close shot as time expired on the second US penalty. That save led to a quick breakout pass and an eventual breakaway goal at the other to make the score 2-0.

The 2 goal swing seamed to take the fire out of Team Finland and they never seemed to seriously challenge the Americans after that point.

The women's semi-finals is set for Tuesday where Group A winner, Canada, will face Group B second place finisher, Finland. Team USA, Group B winner, will play Team Sweden, runner-up in Group A, in the other semifinal game. Again it looks like it will be a Canada vs. Team USA gold medal rematch on Thursday.
2/21/2002
Woman's Team Advances To Finals

by Robby Granato

Both Team USA and Team Canada had tougher than expected semi-final games. However both team advanced to the gold medal game Thursday night.

Team Canada had to come back from behind to beat defending Silver medal winner Team Finland 8 to 3. Team Finland actually took a 3 to 2 lead into the third period before Canada scored 6 unanswered goals to advance to the finals.

Team USA also had a strong challenge from Team Sweden in their semi-final game. Team USA played a little tentatively in their 4 to 0 win. Cammi scored 2 goals and added an assist on a goal by Natalie

Darwitz. Every time Team USA seemed to get rolling they were whistled for a penalty and stopped their momentum. Sweden played a very defensive style limiting the US offense. They kept to the outside and used body position to slow down the quicker American team.

Can you say rematch? Yes, it is what everyone wanted to see. Team USA vs. Team Canada in the women's gold medal game, again. The anticipation has been growing ever since the 1998 Olympics where the US upset Canada 3 to 1 to win the first ever gold medal for womenís hockey.

There is no love loss between the two women's hockey powers. Canada is defending and seven time World Champions and Olympic silver medal winner. The US is seven time World Championship runner-up but is the defending Olympic Gold Medal Champion.

Many consider the US as the favorite with a winning streak of 39 games including 7 wins vs. Canada in their pre-Olympic tour. And because the Olympics are on their home ice in Salt Lake. Others think Canada has the edge having only lost two times in international competition ever (both to the US at the 98 Olympics).

What does all that mean come face-off on Thursday.............nothing, except it should be a great, great hockey game!

GO USA!!!!

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