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Polar Bears Ringette Tour 2013

 

The 2013 tour includes the following athletes:

Athletes:

Stephanie Abraham
Ottawa, Ontario
Kim Heacock
Spruce Grove, Alberta
Logan Linton
Whitby, Ontario
Margie Carter
Ayr, Ontario
Kasey Wheal
St. Marys, Ontario
Laura Wild
Spruce Grove, Alberta
Jamie Jackson
Spruce Grove, Alberta
Dominique  Rodrigue
Ottawa, Ontario
   
   

Team Staff:

Phyllis Sadoway
Smoky Lake, Alberta
Tanis Humphrey
Stratford, Ontario
Lucie Anne Ingoldsby
Waverley, Nova Scotia
   

July 20, 2013



The start of our adventure. On my way to Toronto to meet up with the team I was serenaded with songs and poems by the west jet flight attendants, all in all a good start to the day. Laurah and I were the first to arrive at the airport where we met up with our coach, Phyllis. Slowly the rest of the team started arriving. After checking into our flight to Iceland, some of the girls searched the airport for a place to eat before our long flight. We ended up eating at a fancy grill where 4 of us got some fancy Mac and Cheese. After dinner we all took a pic together and then most of us passed out instantly on the plane. Good start to our adventure.


July 21, 2013





We arrived very early in Iceland and went straight from the airport to the hotel where we had breakfast. It was funny watching our tour guides pack all of our luggage on the bus. After we were all fed we got back on the bus and went to the harbour for a whale watching trip. Our boat was called Moby Dick and it was freezing out on the water. A couple of us fell asleep in the cabin but the rest were lucky enough to see dolphins and some jelly fish. Then we headed back to the hotel were we ate some lovely Thai food just down the street. They obviously wanted to fatten us up because the food just kept coming.

Next we went on a tour of Iceland. We stopped to take lots of pictures. We visited a beautiful cliff, a cave, and geyser field. The natural beauty in Iceland was amazing. We also stopped at lighthouses, a steam factory, the old American army base and the bridge between Europe and North America. At the bridge a couple of us stopped to make some small inuksuks. After our tour with our wonderful tour guides we headed to the blue lagoon. The blue lagoon is a natural hot spring and the water is so blue. The bar itself was inside the water too and a couple people in our group put a natural exfoliant on their face that sticks to the rocks in the lagoon. We left the blue lagoon where we all had dinner on our own, although most of us went to subway where we proceeded to go through the most complicated subway order we've ever had. the icelandic language is hard to understand... Our day was very busy and we were all running on barely any sleep but it was a great day.

Kim Heacock


July 22, 2013


Today my Polar Bear trip begins. This will be my third time on a Polar Bear trip and i'm very excited to be part of the tour again.
The rest of the group visited Iceland, however I arrived in Prague on July 9th. My day started off early with a 5:30am alarm. The tour bus left from Prague and drove to The Frankfurt Airport to pick up to team arriving from Iceland. Therefore, I caught a ride with the tour bus to Frankfurt and it was departing at 6:30am. The drive was about 6hrs.

The rest of the polar bears touched down in Germany at around 1pm. Radek (our tour organizer) and I were waiting at the airport to greet them. It was great to see familiar faces again and to meet new ones. Once we got acquainted, we hopped onto the bus and headed off to Wurzburg. Wurzburg is a historical little city in the region of Franconia. We arrived at our hotel in Wurzburgh at 3:30pm, checked in and had a bit of free time before dinner. Most girls were hungry because they hadn't eaten since breakfast so many went out to have a snack. I ended up going shopping and did a little sightseeing.

At 7pm, it was chow time. We had tomatoe shop, roasted turkey with cream sauce, vegetables and croquettes with yummy vanilla ice cream for dessert. The ice cream was very refreshing because the weather was very warm. After dinner, Phyllis our coach, made us play a social interaction game to get to know each other a little better. It was a lot of fun and we had some laughs. We also ended up talking a bit of ringette strategy.

Once the games were done, the players decided to go out for a drink to continue our bonding. Tomorrow we are visiting, Rothenburg and ending the day in Hallein which is near Salzburg. Should be a good day :)

Dominique


July 23, 2013


Today we visited the medieval town of Rothenburg. The town is surrounded by a town wall and the buildings inside almost seem untouched by time. It is a very picturesque little town. We took a guided tour and learn many interesting things. Our tour guide was very good at providing little details that I think we wouldn't normally get from other guides.

After the tour, we had lunch on our own and them some free time for shopping. I and a few others, ended up at a Christmas store. It is one of the biggest Christmas stores in all of Europe! As a Christmas lover, I thought it was fantastic. The store was so big, I almost got lost. Once the free time was over, we headed back to the bus and departed for Hallein. The drive was a little long but we took the time to relax, take a little nap and enjoy the scenery as we drove to Austria. Tomorrow we visit the Salt Mine in Hallein and Salzburg.

Dominique


July 24, 2013


Today on our first full day in Austria  we started our day at the Hallein salt mines.We entered the mine on a train to the first of several videos on the history of the mine and the importance of salt in the area as a staple for food and wealth. We continued deeper into the mine by using two  slides similar to what the miners used. Scary at first but became fun once we finished! The visit was also highlighted with a boat ride across the saline lake and the crossing of the border into Germany and then back into Austria all while underground!

Later that day we had a walking tour of Salzburg where we saw the city where parts of The Sound of Music where filmed. We toured  through beautiful gardens and an extremely old castle.We also seen where the composer Mozart lived! For dinner we had a buffet at the Augustiner Brewery then ended our day in Linz.

Kasey Wheal


July 25, 2013



Today we arived in our fourth country, the Czech Republic. On our way we crossed the old border where in the past when communism was still present these borders where virtually closed to Western travelers! We started out in the medieval town of Cesky Krumlov a UNESCO World heritage site. Here we toured the town and saw how the people live in Medieval times and how the town survived several attempts at seige through out the years. A walking tour of the town let us see the different parts of the castle still intact.

Free time was enjoyed by all and a trip to the Christmas store was another highlight to remember. The tour ended with a walk along the wall back to the bus. From here we left for the city of Prague. We arrived in Prague  just in time to get a glimpse of the various sites we would soon see. Dinner was had right downtown at the Jizera restaurant.

Kasey Wheal


July 26, 2013





We started our day with an early practice, our first one together as a team. This gave us the chance to get on the ice before our games and learn each other's style of play. Right after practice we got on the bus which took us to the Prague Castle where we did a walking tour. It was awesome to see the team wearing some Polar Bears team gear around Prague! Kim and I discovered that Phyllis has a great sense of style, she matched our outfits perfectly. We crossed Charles Bridge to get to the old town square, where we got to watch the astrological clock's hourly show. Each part of the astrological clock was explained to us, still in its original state from 400 years ago.

After some free time at the old town square, we headed back to the arena to get ready for our first game of the tournament against Tuusula. We had a very strong start as a team and ended the first half of the game with a score of 4-1. However in the second half, our walking tours caught up to us and we started to play like we were tired. We managed to hold on to our win and ended the game with a score of 6-4. Our first team victory!!

Laurah


July 27, 2013


An early start to our day since we had an 8 am game against Helsinki. We played well as a team and came back from a 5-1 deficit to tie the game 5-5. Our second game of the day was against Slovakia and wasn't quite as much of a nail-biter; we were able to play solid and took another win with a score of 10-0. With our two wins and one tie, we moved on to playoffs ranked second.

After a day of ringette, we went back to the hotel and got all dolled up for our dinner cruise on the Vltava River aboard The Orca. The boat was packed, and it was HOT. The girls were all looking pretty hot too, we clean up nice! After a buffet dinner and some cold drinks, we got some time to have some girl talk, but we had to be quiet so the parents at the next table wouldn't hear. Being quiet is not our forte. And then Jamie broke a glass, but the blame got put on Kim, as usual. Overall it was a good day, we got to play as a team and then have some fun as a team.

Laurah


July 28, 2013




Wobbling in to the semi-finals in second place we played the later morning game at 9:15 am. After a good breakfast we headed out to the Letany Arena. Our game was against Tuusula (who we played first and won), but we knew it was still going to be tough. During warm up the Swedish girls explained a game they play to warm up and we tried it. Hand ball was great! Not only was it a good warm up for the whole body but we had fun and got a little competitive in the process. We got on the ice fresh and ready to play.

Fighting to the finish our work paid off and we won 7-5. Steph and I decided that spaghetti sounded good for lunch, and Laurah, and Kim joined us too. The restaurant didn’t open until 11:00am and so we had a good half an hour to kill. In which we got to watch our amazing guide Radek Dan play a bit of ringette with another guide on the ice. Of course though when it was time for food we headed out and ordered. Jamie and Logan came up as we were finishing off our meals and everyone sat and used the free Wi-Fi.

Soon enough it was warm up time again, time for some more hand ball!! Playing Helsinki there were quite a few heart attack moments. We got more penalties, and once again came from behind. By the end of the second period against Doms request we were tied. This time it was 4-4 instead of 5-5. Overtime was nerve racking, but for the first few seconds I was just happy we had made into overtime! It was their strategy that lost them the over time, in order to avoid Linda scoring one of their girls took her out and got a penalty. From which they didn’t recover and Logan ended up scoring. Everyone on the bench jumped up and cheered. We group hugged and headed over for photos. It was like having paparazzi, no matter where you looked, someone had a camera. The medal ceremony was very exciting, watching as the other teams went up and knew that when we were called we’d be getting gold! We shook everyone’s hand with big smiles and did a victory lap with the Canadian flag and trophy. For the cameras we posed with our medals in our war paint of red and black, and celebrated our achievement. The arena guys started turning out the lights, which the last few of us who were still out there took as a sign to go get changed.

Our day was not over yet, we still had free time downtown and dinner in Prague. Tanis, Phyllis, Kim, Laurah, Steph, my mom (Heather), my dad (Keith), and I hit up some souvenir shops in search of shirts, magnets, pins, and bracelets. Our next stop was for Ice Cream! In the heat of the day and after all our hard work it was just what the doctor ordered and after dinner (where even more pictures were taken) sleep was what we needed. Needlessly to say I had a great sleep, and even better day!

Margie Carter


July 29, 2013




Post-gold morning our team made their way to the bus for our trip to The Ruckl Crystal Factory in Nizbor Czech Republic. We arrived a little bit late, but still got the tour. We were lead through the blowing department (where they pull the mixture out of the furnace and shape it), of course so as not to disturb the workers or cause them to drop the molten mix on themselves (since they had no gloves, or face wear, they wore shorts and some of the no shirt, they had sandals or regular shoes on their feet) we did not take any flash pictures. We watched as they moved the now shaped crystal to a large oven-like wall. Then we walked through where a woman looked for imperfections, our guide told us that all the imperfect glass goes back in the furnace so that they have no waste. Our third stop was the cutting department where each person does a different type of line and so they work as a team to finish pieces. It was a different experience. No department had any safety gear, and in the blowing department they could smoke as they worked. Later our guide told us there is some safety equipment available, but no laws to make them wear it. Finally we went to the gift shop, where they sold ice cream, and Gatorade as well as crystal. I got a purple crystal necklace with sterling silver chain and a beautiful black swan. Radek had even more crystal for us when we got back on the bus. He gave the adults crystal baseballs and us girls crystal birds.

Unfortunately our time in The Czech republic was over and we headed for the airport. It was a sad goodbye to our great guide Radek after we took the traditional picture with him. Kim presented him with a card we all signed and we all got hugs, then slowly made our way in the carry-on bag check and customs line.

Not much interesting stuff happened on the flight to Stockholm, but when we landed around 4:30pm there were police waiting and one had a drug dog with her. We moved on to the baggage claim and got to the hotel in good time.

Dinner that night was at the hotel, they had a good selection at the buffet to choose from. We all went to the Icebar, and spent some time sipping from our ice glasses in the small cold room. There was seats cover in fur to sit on, complete with ice tables. There were sculptures to take pictures of, and we even took a team photo there. It was too cold to stay for a long time, so when most of us finished our conversations and drinks we recycled our glasses in the recycled ice chute.

Soon enough after Dom, Laurah, Kim, Steph, Casey and I took a little walk it was time to go back to the hotel, where we split up and went to our rooms.

Margie Carter


July 30, 2013


Today was a touring day! Jumped on the bus to begin our day with a nice bus tour of Stockholm. (So nice we didn’t have to walk!) We learned that Stockholm is made up of 14 islands connected with 56 bridges. Made a stop at the Vasa Museum were we got to discover a 98% original vessel that sank in 1628. After being under the sea for 333 years, the Sweden’s final got it up and out and on display for the world to see. The boat was HUGE! And that was the reason for it sinking, just too heavy. So much detailed worked on all the sculptures and statues, which represented the wealth and prosperity of Sweden.

After the boat, we ended in the old town square, where everyone enjoyed there lunch. We returned to the hotel, napped for a bit because everyone seemed to be exhausted, had supper and got ready to head to the game.

The game was such a fun experience. We had 4 15-minute periods. We got 5 Sweden girls to join the Polar Bears and 5 different ones to join after the second period. The Sweden’s were all very fast and good at picking up the ring but they still didn’t know the basics of shooting and passing very well.

Everyone had a lot of fun until some injuries occurred. After game we ended up with 2 pulled groins, a messed up back, swollen ankles, a sprained finger and a really bad cold. Just what we needed before the Finland tournament. All night we had the parents and coaches running around getting ice and supplies for all of us. Not very much sleep!

Jamie


July 31, 2013


The next morning was a slow check out; we stored our bags and luggage in a room so we could go out without worrying about it. Everyone went to different places. We had a couple options to choose from: Amusement Park, Abba Museum or just walk around the town and sightsee and shop. I went to the Tivoli Grona Lund (amusement park) with Logan, Dominque and Margie. We had a blast on the roller coasters, spinning rides and the love tunnel ride! Even with the injuries we had a blast.

Tanis, Phyllis, Laurah, Kim and Steph went to the Abba Museum where they sang karaoke and learned about the old band. From what I heard they had a blast too!  Kasey and her parents and also Margie’s parents just shopped around and went to an aquarium.

We headed back to the hotel and we got stuck in traffic.. Rushing to grab our stuff and head to the cruise ship. Barely making it on the ship on time. Man were the rooms ever squishy, 4 to a room with bunk beds. Went exploring on the ship for a couple hours till it was our turn to head to the buffet.

After our delicious supper we headed up to the nightclub where they had Karaoke, so of course us girls are going to take advantage of this! Steph and Dom sang Total Eclipse of the Heart! Logan and I sang Just Dance by Lady Gaga to get the crowd pumped up. We had the girls beside the stage to back up dance. We have our own dance called the wobble and we definitely included that into our song and I think the whole club loved it! So much fun to end our night.

Jamie Jackson


August 1st and 2nd, 2013



We awoke on a dreary Thursday morning in time to watch our ferry navigate through the small surrounding islands before finally docking in Helsinki. We met with our bus driver and tour guide for the morning and loaded our luggage onto the bus. After a quick stop at the pharmacy to treat our sick and injured, we were guided through the city while our guide pointed out buildings and explained historical facts. Unfortunately, shortly after embarking, it began to pour, and we were worried this would ruin the rest of our tour.

To our great delight, however, as our tour of the city ended and we boarded a ferry to Suomenlinna (the fortress island not too far away), the clouds began to part and we were graced with a lovely sunshine for the rest of the day. A new guide led us through various parts of the island, explaining its historical significance in territory disputes between Sweden and Russia along with its usefulness in making Helsinki the Finnish capital. We ate lunch on the island and then took the ferry back to the mainland.

We checked into our hotel in the mid afternoon and from this point onwards we had free time to do whatever we wanted. Some of us did organize a trip to the sports store to buy ringette sticks for cheap, but we mostly kept to our own devices. We knew tomorrow the competition would begin anew for the Finland Lions Cup.

When tomorrow came, we got to sleep in and/or spend some time at the market before boarding the bus to take us to Turku, the tournament venue. After a two-hour drive during which most of us plugged in our headphones, read, and/or slept, we checked into our hotel and ate lunch at a brewery (no alcohol before the game, don't worry. A short while later we were off to the arena for the first game of the competition against the team from Turku.

This is where, unfortunately, things did not go quite our way. I could make a long list, but I think it would be better just to summarize: due to a combination of many factors, we did not play a good game and the game ended in a disappointing 5-1 loss against a team we knew we could have competed with. Thankfully, we had the evening to ourselves so we all got food and relaxed so that we could be better prepared for the next two games of the round robin, with the hopes that we could step up our game tomorrow and clinch a spot in the semi-finals.

Stephanie Abraham


August 3, 2013




Today was the second day of the Finland Lions Cup, and our first game was against the Blue Rings, who were very good, but we managed to pull out a tie at 3-3. In between that game and our next one later on in the day, there was a tour of Turku scheduled, but because of injuries and tiredness, most people went back to the hotel to rest (Steph and Heather stuck it out and still did the tour though!).

In our second game, we really came together as a team and beat the Hyvinkka team from Finland 5-2. This game was really fun, and everyone was so much more relaxed than in the first two games.

After the game, we had a bit of time at the hotel to relax and then get ready for the tournament dinner that was being held back at the arena. We all dressed up and looked gorgeous, a nice change from our sweatpants and messy bun heads.

At the dinner, we got pasta and meat sauce which was amazing, and there was also some little challenges to compete in after. One of them was a timed challenge where you had to hold hands with 3 other players, throw a ring and then each player had to step on it before advancing. We were definitely not dressed for the occasion. There was also a ring toss, and a shooting competition, where everyone, even the parents and coaches, took some shots!

We ended the night by doing the Wobble in the parking lot, and teaching coach Phyllis the moves as well!

Logan Linton


August 4, 2013



Today was our last day of the Finland Lions cup, and even though we knew that we wouldn’t be able to make it to the finals, we still wanted our last two games together to be the best two yet. In our first game, we faced a Finnish team that finished third place in the other pool, and we won the game 4-3, with everyone playing their hardest and never giving up.  It was so awesome playing in that arena, because the stands are huge and so many people come out to watch; it makes you feel like a real professional!

After our first game, we went back to the hotel to have our second breakfast of the day at the free buffet in the lobby. Then it was time to pack our things and have a quick rest before we had to check out of the hotel and head back to the arena for our final game. Once we got to the arena, we started our warm up for the last time, which included a ball game that the Swedish girls taught us, as well as some dancing, and of course “The Wobble”. We had an audience of soccer boys watching us this time, which always makes it even funnier because of the confused looks on their faces.

Our second game was against another Finnish team who finished fourth in their pool, and after a long game of back to back scoring for each team, it ended in a tie at 3-3. This game was so much fun, with everyone laughing on the ice, making jokes, and cheering for one another. It was also a sad time as well, seeing as it was our last game together.

After the game, Tanis gave us all a cute little gift bag, and a skate charm for being part of the Polar Bears. We then gathered in front of the flags in the arena for a team picture, before a few of us said our goodbyes. Linda, Jessika, Jessica, Sofia and I would be separating from the team at that time, and it was so sad to say goodbye to everyone. We made a hug line so that everyone could say their goodbyes, and then I had to leave for my parent’s friends house just outside of Turku.

I will never forget my experience playing with the Polar Bears. I saw some amazing things in some amazing countries, but met even more amazing people. I know that we will all keep in touch, and I cant wait to get back on the ice, and maybe even play against some of those girls again.

Logan Linton


August 5, 2013


Last Day of Polar Bears Tour 2013 August 5th
By Coach Phyllis Sadoway and Manager Tanis Humphrey

The last day was a tough one because it was the last.
We got up just before 8 AM. Lucie Anne was ready first and down for breakfast. We got to breakfast before 9:00 AM and sat with Kasey, Marilyn and Jim. After breakfast, Tanis got them checked in with Icelandair.com. Then we saw Stephanie, Kim and Laura, Tanis again helped to make sure they were checked in with the Airline; Margie, Heather and Keith were next; they were ready and then Jamie.  Dom, who was flying later to the Czech Republic, knew what to do. After breakfast and the check-ins, Tanis and I walked through the market to the Marimekko store downtown for one last look around in both places. Lots of beautiful things but our bags were stuffed so we walked away with just a little piglet. Others checked out the market and did a few last minute things.

Pictures, loading the bus and good-byes to Dom and Kalle, our guide, were next. Our driver arrived later than the Ottawa bus but Tanis knew we were going to Terminal 1; it was a bit funny, we got through the check in with our luggage before Ottawa got there; they went to Terminal 2 and had to walk back.

We went through security and checked out the Duty Free Shop, got chocolate and some lunch; then we were on our way. Everyone was near the back of the bus, no, plane, except me and Lucie Anne so Lucie Anne got to Iceland first, then me. We went through security again then checked out the Iceland duty free and lunch bar and waited; but only for a short time. We hopped on the Toronto flight; again I was ahead of everyone. Too bad it wasn’t “The Amazing Race” as I had a head start! Although, Lucie Anne would have really been the winner; again she was up front. We all gathered and went through customs, got our luggage, took pictures and said our good-byes again.  But we were lucky and met Kasey’s brother.
 It was sad! Now, we were all splitting up, going our different ways. I met Russell, Tanis’ husband and they drove me to Terminal 1. I changed my ticket and flew home.  Looking for my gate I bumped into Stephanie and she took me as a guest to the Air Canada Lounge for frequent flyers. We had a good visit then we walked to her gate and she took off. I waited for a short time and flew home. Richard, my husband, was waiting at 1:30 Tuesday morning. It was great to be together! I was home.

What an amazing experience! Thank you everyone for chipping in and doing everything you could to make this, the best group and the best trip possible! Team, each of you was brilliant and amazing! Parents, each of you was brilliant and amazing, too! Lucie Anne, you are always brilliant and amazing and Tanis, my room-mate and cohort, you are always brilliant and amazing, too! Thank you, all, for being who you are!

Maybe the last thing we could do is to let everyone know what each of us is thankful for on this trip.

I am thankful that I have an amazing family who supports my Ringette habit. I am thankful that I was able to join all of you at the last moment and that we had a great support staff with Lucie Anne, Radik, Kalle, Heather, Keith, Marilyn, Jim, Carol and Don. I was thankful that each of you, the athletes: Dom, Kim, Anna, Linda, Laura, Jamie, Logan, Stephanie, Kasey, Margie, Jessika, Sofia and Jessica,  stepped up, worked together and supported each other, did your jobs, never gave up, played with energy through strife and played for the love of Ringette. And I was thankful for the great support and advice that Tanis gave me and for all the fun that Tanis and I had every day. Thanks for all the laughter and fun, everyone! And thanks for the special memories! You are family!

Phyllis



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