For NHL players, being in Turin isn't all about the game they're there to play.
It's also about learning. Learning to feign interest in art galleries. Learning how to say Â“I really need to find the bathroomÂ” in broken Italian. And learning that a wine tour and a 9 a.m. practice are not a good combination.
It's also about learning from the other sports around you, the weirdly unique abominations they feel compelled to reward medals for every four years.
But these other events are more similar to hockey than one might think. Some skills are apparently universal to all sports. Watch and you might learn a thing or two.
Cross-country Skiing - Ice skating and cross-country skiing have similar physical styles. Being adept at one will naturally make you adept at the other. Think of all the cross-country skiers that have gone on to successful hockey careers or the NHLers who have become elite cross-country skiers. I mean, really think. I'll give you a minute.
Downhill Skiing - Both hockey and downhill teach the ability to crash the net. When all hell breaks loose and you've lost an edge, at least you have a rather large net to cushion your fall. Aside from the lack of a goalie, wearing eight-foot skis and travelling at 200-km/h, the sports are almost identical.
Biathlon - Both disciplines require accurate shooting and both require acute precision and deadly accuracy. Biathlon has a rifle whereas hockey has a stick. Both can kill an unsuspecting victim (although hockey may require an extra shot or two to properly finish the job).
Figure Skating - Few NHLers can nail the triple axel. Even fewer are comfortable wearing sequins. So what's to be gained by watching figure skating? Let's see: babes, skirts, spandex, cold conditionsÂ…
Luge - There will times when an individual athlete will be required to carry the team on his back or, in this case, his front. These strong ties can only be cultivated by working in such a close physical proximity and sharing precious personal space. In luge, it's bodysurfing with your buddy, in hockey it's called team showers.
Speed Skating - This sport most closely resembles hockey in its mechanics. Many professional hockey players practice this sport to improve their skating prowess. They are most recognizable in games by their inability to turn right.
Curling - Take a shot, chug a beer. Hit an opponent, chug a beer. Score a point, chug a beer. This one is pretty much self-explanatory.
Charlie Teljeur, creator of THN's hockeysockpuppettheatre, brings you Loose Change every Tuesday and Thursday, only on thehockeynews.com.
Want to talk to Charlie about love, life, or Loose Change? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org