Wednesday, February 4, 2015

NHL All-Star Weekend In Columbus

Written by Dani & Andrew Livelsberger
Photography by Andrew Livelsberger

Fans entering Nationwide Arena to see the 2015 NHL All-Star Skills Competition

Background:

Nation Hockey League chose Columbus, Ohio - home of the Columbus Blue Jackets - as the location of the 2015 All Star Game and Skills Competition.

Impression:

We were very impressed by the showing of the NHL and the City of Columbus presenting this event.  350,000 lights lined the Nationwide Blvd that lead you to the 35 foot snow slide and to McPherson Commons where you could find bands playing, the regulation size ice rink, NHL history wall and concessions.

Slide

The 35 foot snow slide is located in the middle of Nationwide Blvd.  For the time we were there covering the event, there was always a line staged of brave people ready to take the plunge down!


McPherson Commons

Pre-Skills Competition coverage was carried by Fox Sports veterans Bill Davidge and Brian Giesenschal.  Their broadcast booth is right outside the goal end of the outdoor ice skate rink.

The skate rink was also very popular, lines were there too, but the professional staff made sure that all went smoothly.  Lines moved at a speedy pace and skaters were having a great time.

For a small fee, one of the concession tents sold smore kits that could then be assembled by the provided fire pits.  Not only functional for cooking, but also very handy for warming up in the cold Ohio winter night air.

Davidge and Geisenschlag Doing The Pre-Skill Competition Show Outside The Regulation Size Skate Park
The regulation size skating rink is a very popular attraction.  People waited in long lines for a chance to skate.







Various fire pits were available to help make your smores sold by the nearby concession tent.


 Another attraction of interest was the replica Columbus Blue Jackets locker room.  You could see and interact with the locker room, see where the players prepare for the game and even try on some of their equipment.

The replica CBJ locker room was fun for all ages.  See where your favorite CBJ player's locker area and try on their gear!



Skills Competition

The day before the All Star Game, players compete in various skill games.   As a hockey fan, it was exhilarating to see all the different Jerseys on the ice at the same time.  The competition was fast moving enough to keep it exciting; however, there was still time enough to see a side of players that was surprising.  The players were encouraged to be creative during the breakaway competition in which the crowd voted via twitter.  These displays of skills made most fans forget about their "home team" and really enjoy the amazing sport that is hockey.

This young lady stopped to check out the skills competition at one of the many arena district eateries.

Fan Fair

A chance to meet players, mascots, and check out all things hockey.  Fans of all ages had plenty to experience at the convention center that held this indoor exhibit.  A highlight for most was getting a picture with the coveted Stanley Cup.  To watch as generations participated in the history of the sport found me already hoping that the NHL would pick Columbus again for the All-Star weekend.  A personal highlight for my family was when my daughter (arguably the biggest fan in the family) got to meet Willie O'Ree.   Her Dad recognized him as they had sat down at the same table.  Once speaking with him, he graciously gave Jim an autographed trading card.    The magic happened when Mr. O'Ree had started to leave.  My daughter explained that she felt a tap on her shoulder and when she looked up she was handed a signed puck from the man that had made history.  This summed up the feeling of the weekend, a true celebration for the sport.  For three days, it did not matter how much of a fan you were or what team you routed for, it was just all about hockey.  Where it has come from and where it is going.  Everyone who attended left with a new respect for the athletes and the game itself.