UMD Teammates Set to be Olympic Opponents

By KBJR News 1

February 5, 2014 Updated Feb 5, 2014 at 10:05 PM CST

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) freshman Lara Stalder and junior Tea Villila have a somewhat complicated relationship --- the two are teammates now, will be opponents later, and consider each other friends afterward.

"If you step on the ice, it's an opponent," Stalder said. "It's not your friend anymore, but after the game it's a friend again."

That's exactly what will happen when the two suit up at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics Games.

Stalder will skate for Team Switzerland and Villila for Team Finland, but both will be making their Olympic debut.

"I'm really excited," Stalder said. "It's a little girl's dream to go to the Olympics and now it's becoming true. I'm really excited."

"I feel proud,' Villila said. "Playing in the Olympics is going to be something that I can't even describe. It's going to be a great honor for me."

That honor, though, does leave the Bulldogs two defensemen short as the collegiate season hits the home stretch -- but Stalder's not worried.

"I think that's going to be a couple of weeks without us, but they will manage that," she said of UMD. "They're a good team."

With things in Duluth hopefully taken care of, then, the two first-time Olympians can put a different team on their mind -- both with the same end goal.

"It's definitely a medal," Stalder said, "because two years ago we showed we could win a bronze medal so that will be our goal."

"Our goal is a medal for sure," Vililla countered. "As you saw in Four Nations, when we beat the U.S., anything can happen."

But in the end, no matter the result, it's back to being friends.

Posted by Zach Schneider
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