October 26, 2011

Ten Questions with Chelsea Karpenko

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For this edition of 10 Questions, Sun Columnist Katie Schubauer sits down with senior women’s hockey forward Chelsea Karpenko. They discuss the Canadian’s pregame rituals, wooden earrings and dislike of ketchup.

1. Chelsea, you are a senior on the Cornell women’s ice hockey team. What has ice hockey meant to you over the course of your college career?It has meant a lot. Aside from school, it has definitely been my biggest commitment. It has been nice to be part of a class that has really had a big hand in changing the culture of our program — going from mediocre to being a program that is nationally ranked. So it has really been exciting to be a part of that.Who is your favorite teammate?I can’t say I have an answer for that. It kind of depends on the situation, but there are people who like to be involved in our dance parties and people who you tape your sticks with and people you do homework with. So it depends on the situation, but I love all of them.Describe your on-ice talk with other teams.I say some things to players on other teams. It’s always PG though. It’s never anything vulgar or violent. It’s always just getting at things that they might be self-conscious about. For example, if someone has inch-thick makeup on, I might be inclined to call them a “cake face” or something like that. I definitely talk a lot on the ice.What about the twins on the Under-22 team you played against?Oh, I just basically asked a pair of twins how it felt to share a face. They were playing dirty and swearing and being all mean. So I figured I would dish it back. You have to stand up for yourself. 2. Describe some of your pregame rituals.Usually it starts with the coaches talking about all the game plans and stuff and then we go into taping our sticks and putting everything on the bench. Then there is the actual warm up. And then we get into what is called the “Dance Party.” That’s a huge part of warm up. We have our Dance Party Move Caller — [sophomore goalie] Lauren Slebodnick — and then there are about five or six of us that dance in the Dance Party. We dance to Act a Fool, the remix by Lil John.Every time?Every time. It has actually been going on for three years now, so it’s huge. After that, it’s pretty much time to get ready and go.Is it true that you are in a band with some of your fellow teammates?I am in a band. We are called “The Undecided.” We don’t have an album or anything yet, but we have some videos on Facebook. It’s with [teammates] Jess Campbell and Jill Saulnier. My band name is Plum, Jessica’s name is Je$ha and Jill’s name is Miley. Be on the lookout for us. 3. Is it true that you wear wooden earrings?I do. I have them on right now actually. I wear them because anything else makes my ears infected. I never realized how many people identify me by my earrings. The earrings are from Canada and they are wooden. I also use them to knock on wood for luck. They are very handy. I’m kind of a superstitious person. I have tried to not be as superstitious as the years go on, but I’m still guilty of a lot of it. It’s nice having wood handy when I have to knock on wood for something. Sometimes other people use them, too, if there is no wood around. 4. Describe your relationship with Coach Howley.Well he has a nickname for me. He calls me “Grandma.” I guess it started because I was making some kind of odd old-people noises when we were doing warm-up. He makes fun of me all the time. I kind of had some injury problems so it plays even more into the grandma name. So if I need to substitute an exercise, he’s always like, “Of course, Grandma. I’d expect nothing less.”What about the nickname “Black Swan?” How did you get that?Black Swan happened last year. Long story short, I popped a blood vessel in my eye really badly. It looked a lot worse than it was. It actually didn’t affect my sight or anything, but my whole eye was kind of red and black. If you actually go on the Cornell Big Red website right now, the front page for the Fright paper has a picture of me and the Black Swan is in action. It’s perfect because it’s very frightening. It kind of looks like I’m missing an eye almost. 5. Who is your favorite NHL player?Alex Ovechkin. I’m sure you heard that. I’m kind of — well not obsessed — but if he asked me to marry him tomorrow, I’d say yes. When we went to see a game in Buffalo last year and got the chance to meet him, I almost started crying because I was so happy and so nervous. I had a sign that said “Ove, marry me” and the first thing he said was, “Yeah.” But then he continued by saying, “Yeah, I saw that sign.” But still, he said “Yeah!” So I was pretty excited.So are you a Capitals fan then?Yeah. I’m a Capitals fan, even though I’m from Canada. I was a fan of him before he got into the NHL, so I would have been a fan of any team he was on. 6. What are some of your unique traits?I’m really good at celebrity crosswords. They are something I like doing in my spare time or in class when it’s boring. And the Rubix Cube. I learned how to do the Rubix Cube last year and it became a little bit of a phenomenon on our team. I think almost the whole team can do it now. I’d say I got pretty good at it. My fastest time is about 45 seconds. I don’t do it as regularly anymore, so I’m a little rusty, but I still can usually do it in around 1:10 or 1:15.I hear it’s online.It is. It’s on the women’s ice hockey Facebook page, I think. It’s definitely somewhere on the web.And what about your alleged talent in Ukrainian dancing?When I was younger, I went to a Ukrainian bilingual school from kindergarten to sixth grade. My family is Ukrainian and my dad’s parents came from the Ukraine, so we’re not hardcore ourselves, but we grew up with some of the Ukrainian traditions. So I took Ukrainian dancing.What is Ukrainian dancing like?(Laughing) I don’t even know how you would describe it. It’s a lot of hopping around and smiling and spins. Jess Campbell actually took Ukrainian dancing, too, so sometimes we’ll get some Ukrainian dancing going in the locker room. 7. Is it true that you bench-pressed a person in the Dominican Republic?(Laughing) Yeah, that’s true. She was only about 100 pounds — not that heavy. How one thing led to another and it happened, I couldn’t even tell you. But I ended up bench-pressing a person.Voluntarily, I assume?Yeah, she volunteered. It turned out to be quite the riot. We kind of got a crowd around there and it made me nervous. But it worked out.Did you get tan in the Dominican Republic?Yeah. I got more tan than I would have liked. I actually got sun poisoning on my hands and they puffed up like doughboys. You couldn’t even see my knuckles. It was just like one big puff. So I kind of had to walk around with my palms up so I didn’t get any more sun on them. I’m usually pretty good in the sun. I don’t get burned that often. So that was a real wake-up call to sun screen and sun exposure. 8. How do you feel about tomatoes and ketchup?I hate them. Like it’s actually one of my worst nightmares. Tomatoes, onions and marinara sauce — those are the worst. When we go to restaurants, I’ll ask to have none of those things, even if they aren’t listed on the menu. I’ll ask, “Can I get no tomatoes and onions with that?” and they’ll be like, “It doesn’t come with it.” And I say, “OK, just making sure because that’d be disgusting.” 9. Would you consider yourself a morning person?No, but I’m trying to be. I was way worse before I got here, but since we started to have morning practices with the team, I’ve slowly gotten … well, OK, I know I have a lot of work to do. But I’ve gotten a lot better. Some of the housemates like to talk to me early in the morning on the way to practice. It almost seems like they are talking to me just to get a rise out of me, because they know I’m kind of a grouch. But after 30 to 40 minutes, I’m OK. 10. Which other Cornell team do you like to hang out with the most?I think the soccer guys are really nice and they’re having a really good season this year so far. Our teams have kind of hung out a bit in the past and probably will in the future, so I like those guys a lot. They’re a good group of guys.

Original Author: Katie Schubauer