The journey for an Olympic gold medal begins this summer at camp.
Several countries will hold their pre-Olympic orientation camps in the upcoming days in preparation for the Feb. 7-23 Winter Olympics in Russia. Colorado Avalanche players Matt Duchene (Canada), Erik Johnson (USA), Paul Stastny (USA) and Semyon Varlamov (Russia) were all invited to the their respective camps this week, while Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog (Sweden) has already participated in his meeting, which was held Aug. 12-14 in Stockholm.
For the most part, the pre-Olympic orientation camps are informational meetings, but each country can decide if they want to have any physical or on-ice elements to their camp as well.
Russia's camp is set for Friday and Saturday, Aug. 23-24 in Sochi, Russia – the site of February's winter games. Varlamov will be competing against five other Russian goalies for one of the three netminding spots on the national team.
Varlamov does have previous international experience on his side though, as he's been in net for Russia at three world championships (2010, 2012, 2013) and helped win the gold medal at the 2012 tournament. He was a member of Russia's Olympic squad in 2010, but he didn't see any action during the games.
For four-year veteran Duchene, it will be his first chance at trying to make the Canadian Olympic squad. The Avs forward has represented Canada at the last three world championships and finished second on the team in goals (4) at this past summer's tournament.
Canada will hold its four-day camp from Sunday, Aug. 25 to Wednesday, Aug. 28 in Calgary, Alberta. The Canadians are the defending Olympic champions after they edged the United States in overtime at the Vancouver Winter Games in 2010.
The United States has also been on a good run on the international stage recently, as they won the bronze medal at this summer's world championship after winning silver in Vancouver.
Stastny and Johnson were members of both squads that picked up medals and are coming off of strong performances at 2013 IIHF World Championship. Stastny led the Americans with 15 points (seven goals and eight assists) and was named to the all-tournament team. Johnson had four points (two goals and two assists) and a plus-5 rating at the May tournament.
Team USA's pre-Olympic orientation camp will be held Monday and Tuesday, Aug. 26-27, at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, Va. USA Hockey will also be staging a public day on Aug. 27, which includes player autographs, a chance to skate on the ice and see the unveiling of the jerseys that the Americans will wear in Sochi. More information is at USAHockey.com.
Final Olympic rosters won't be announced until later in the NHL season, as the deadline for countries to submit their final 25-man team is Dec. 31.