U.S. UNDER-21 WOMEN ARRIVE IN NORWAY: The U.S. Under-21 Women's National Team arrived in Oslo, Norway early on Saturday morning after an uneventful 8-hour hop over the Atlantic Ocean from Newark International Airport. The U.S. team then bussed an hour and a half to Gjovik where the Nordic Cup tournament will be held. The U.S. team had lunch and then held its first training session in Europe at Varde Stadium, which was really not a stadium at all, but a field with no stands set right off a small street and surrounded by small, but well-kept houses, with a rolling hill covered with lush green pine trees as a backdrop. The USA had the rare good fortune of having a movie theatre right next to their team hotel and about half the squad took in "Bridget Jones's Diary" on Friday evening. The USA held two trainings on Sunday at Varde Stadium, one in the morning and one at 7 p.m., giving the team plenty of daylight as the sun does not go down until about 10:30 p.m. this time of year in Gjovik. The morning training was conducted under a steady rain as the U.S. team went through an intense session featuring fitness and finishing. The afternoon session, conducted under dark and foreboding skies, but no rain, was primarily an 11 v. 11 scrimmage. The U.S. team will lift weights on Monday morning and train on Monday afternoon.
TEAMS ARRIVE IN GJOVIK: With Canada and the USA already in the country, the European teams have started to arrive. The USA and Norway, long-time rivals no matter what the age level, passed each other without any friendly banter as the Americans arrived for training as the Norwegians were leaving. The USA beat Norway for the Nordic Cup title in 1997, lost to Norway in the final in 1998 and regained it against Norway in 1999. The USA beat Germany in the championship game last year. The two teams are again in opposite groups this year. The tournament opens on Wednesday, July 25 with July 27, 29 and 31 also being match days.
ZIMNY EXPERIENCES REBIRTH WITH YOUTH NATIONAL TEAM: Defender Casey Zimny was a member of the Under-16 National Team pool back in 1995 when current U.S. Women's National Team head coach April Heinrichs was in charge of the youngest of the USA's youth girl's national teams. Until June of 2000, when Zimny came into training camp with the U-21s, she had not been back with a U.S. National Team. She played well enough at that camp under new U-21 head coach Jerry Smith to earn herself a spot on the pre-Nordic Cup camp roster for Rhode Island, and then earned a trip to her first Nordic Cup. Zimny is coming back from reconstructive ankle surgery in February of 2000. The hard-nosed and skillful defender has started for three years at the University of Connecticut and will play her senior season this fall.
REGION IV REPRESENTS: Of the 18 players on the USA's Nordic Cup roster, eight of the players came out of Region IV, three from Southern California, two from Washington, and one each from Colorado, Northern California and Oregon. The ever-improving Region II placed the second most players on the squad with six. Region I has just two players (Abby Wambach and Casey Zimny, both from Rochester, NY) while Region III placed just one player on the team, the captain, Cat Reddick from Alabama.
NOT MUCH DOWN TIME: The U.S. players have not had much time to explore Gjovik after arriving on Saturday and having a double-day of training on Sunday, so the players have passed most of the time at the team hotel watching movies on laptop DVD players, reading books, eating snacks and tending to minor injuries in the training room. A mini-controversy erupted on Sunday afternoon as a group of players could not decide between watching "The Cutting Edge" or "The Matrix," finally settling on Keanu Reeves and "The Matrix" after a 15-minute debate, much to the chagrin of midfielder Lori Lindsey, who was one of the few campaigning for The Cutting Edge.
LIGHT READING: With all of the U.S. players on summer break from their colleges, novels have replaced textbooks as the reading material of choice. Numerous U.S. players have buried their heads into a good book during their time off the field. Cat Reddick is reading "The Blood Sisters" - a murder mystery. Lori Lindsey is reading "The Klone and I" - a Danielle Steele love story. Danielle Borgman is engrossed in "The Fountainhead" while Abby Wambach is reading "Written on the Body, which she describes as a "meditating, philosophical novel of love." The eclectic collection of reading materials also includes Anna Kraus' "Chang and Eng" - the true story of Siamese Twin brothers who married sisters and fathered 21 children. Aleisha Cramer is reading the John Grisham classic, "The Rainmaker."
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THREE: Three U.S. players will celebrate birthdays during the Nordic Cup. Defender Anna Kraus and midfielder Aleisha Cramer share the same birthday of July 29. Kraus will turn 21 while Cramer turns 19. Goalkeeper Hope Solo turns 20 on July 30.
WHOOPS! The U.S. team had a brief moment of drama on Sunday night as all the televisions in their rooms flashed a fire warning, instructing the hotel guests to move down to the lobby using the stairs, not the elevators. Fifteen of the 18 U.S. players made it down to the lobby and three of the eight staff members. It turned out to be a false alarm, set off accidentally by none other than U.S. forward Katie Barnes, who left her bathroom door cracked while showering, which caused the hot steam to set off the fire alarm in her room.
SELF-IMPROVEMENT: In a concerted effort to improve their vocabularies, midfielder Aleisha Cramer and defender Jena Kluegel have decided to learn three new words and their definitions each day in Norway, using them in a sentence to each other at some point in the day. Among the words learned so far were "vociferous", "cryptic" and "conducive".
STAT OF NOTE: Three of the players on the U.S. Under-21 Nordic Cup roster have scored goals for the full U.S. National Team, all in the same game. Defenders Ally Marquand and Cat Reddick, and forward Laura Schott, all scored against Norway in a 4-3 loss at the Algarve Cup in Portugal last March.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
"I want to take my SATs all over again. I'm feeling a 750 on the verbal."
- Defender Jena Kluegel after she and Aleisha Cramer embarked on a project to learn three new words every day in Norway.