Road to Sochi: Team Oakley Athlete of the Week – Matt Duchene
As many around the world brace for the coming of winter, a handful of the most elite athletes in the world prepare to shine on the world's biggest stage. The 2014 Winter Olympics are upon us and the remote region of Sochi, Russia is set to host the twenty-second edition the biggest winter sporting event in the world. Team Oakley will look to climb to the top of the podium throughout the two-week event. As they fine tune any last minute skills before the beginning of the Games, we invite you to meet some of the quickest, most high flying, prominent Oakley athletes participating in Sochi in February.
This week's Team Oakley Athlete of the Week is Matt Duchene, a Canadian ice hockey player. Although Duchene has represented his home country of Canada on the world's stage on a number of big occasions, he was not necessarily a lock for the 2014 Canadian Winter Olympic Team. His outstanding play during the 2013-14 NHL season with the Colorado Avalanche caught the eye of Team Canada's general manager, Steve Yzerman and ultimately led to his inclusion on the all-star squad. In just 48 games, the Avalanche center leads his team with 43 points, including 17 goals and 26 assists.
Duchene is just 23-years-old and hails from the town of Haliburton, Ontario. After being selected third overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Duchene quickly rose in the ranks of the Colorado organization and is one of the most prominent members of the team and talked about youngsters in the league today. Although he has collected an IIHF World U18 Championship with Team Canada along with many other international gold medals, this will be Duchene's first shot at the biggest gold medal of them all. He will look to help Team Canada defend their title from the 2010 Vancouver Games and couldn't be more excited about the opportunity to play with arguably the most stacked team in the tournament. Read Duchene's thoughts on representing his country and keep your eyes on this young phenom next month in Sochi.
Q & A
Oakley: What does it mean to you to be an Olympian, representing your country this winter in Sochi?
Matt Duchene: It’s a dream come true first of all. I think this became a dream of mine in 2002 in Salt Lake watching Team Canada win gold and my hero Joe Sakic having such a huge performance in the tournament. It also means so much to me to be representing my hometown of Haliburton. It is pretty cool to be the first person from there to compete in the Olympic Games.
Oakley: At what point did you realize the Olympics were a realistic opportunity for you?
Matt Duchene: Probably my first year in the league watching the past Olympics in Vancouver. I think it was then I realized that if I continued to improve and played the way I could, that was a realistic goal I could achieve.
Oakley: What is your favorite historic Olympic moment?
Matt Duchene: Has to be Sid Crosby’s ‘Golden Goal’ from the last Olympics. That is one of the biggest moments in Canadian history and is definitely a favourite of mine.
Oakley: Its no surprise the Canadian team is pretty stacked. What will it be like playing alongside some of the greatest players in the NHL?
Matt Duchene: It’s going to be a ton of fun. I know a lot of them quite well but have never had a chance to play on a team with them so this is going to be a great opportunity.
What are your expectations for your first Olympics as a part of Team Canada?
Matt Duchene: I expect it to be an outstanding experience and one that is going to stick with me for the rest of my life. The Olympics are something that such a small percentage of people get to experience so I’m just going to try and take it all in as much as possible and do my best to help Canada defend it’s gold medal from Vancouver 2010.