Andrea Braendli reflects on 2022 Winter Olympics experience
Women’s ice hockey player represented Switzerland in Beijing
When Andrea Braendli, goaltender for the Ohio State University’s women’s ice hockey team, competed in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, the experience was wonderful, but chaotic.
“I had no idea what it would be like,” Braendli said. “I overwhelmed by literally everything. Beijing was completely different because I knew what to expect: the rules, the media, the opening ceremonies, the wards.”
This comfort allowed her to focus on why she was in Beijing in the first place: ice hockey. As the goaltender for the Swiss national team, Braendli played in seven games over two weeks, making it to the bronze-medal round. While Switzerland lost to Finland in the final match, Braendli recalls her time in China fondly already.
Her favorite memory is one from before the official start of the games. Prior to the opening ceremony’s parade of athletes, competitors waited in a holding area, together.
“We have to wait for two hours,” she said. “All the athletes are in one area together, having fun. That’s what the Olympics are all about, that shared spirit of sport, of being Olympics athletes together and getting to enjoy it. That’s what this is all about. And that still makes me smile.”
Several of Braendli’s Ohio State teammates were also in Beijing playing for their home countries. Since the teams were housed in close proximity, she was able to see a few other Buckeyes, both on and off the ice.
“It was special to see them in a different setting,” she said. “Usually, we’re playing with each other. Now seeing them at the Olympics, in China, it was mind-blowing. It was an amazing experience.”
In her limited free time, Braendli was able to watch other competitions. Her favorite was women’s big air snowboarding.
“I’ve never watched a big air competition live. That was a really cool experience,” she said.
When asked what she is bringing back to Columbus from Beijing, Braendli laughed.
“Other than a lot of souvenirs? A lot of experience. I learned about myself, about the sport I play, and about my teammates, of course,” she said. “I feel like I’ve grown a lot throughout this tournament. Those experiences will be helpful in upcoming games where we play against the best teams in college hockey.”
More relaxed than she was in Pyeongchang, Braendli was able to reflect more deeply on her experience on Team Switzerland, especially how it compares to playing for Ohio State. Switzerland, she said, is on a different level than countries like Canada (whose women’s ice hockey team won the gold medal), so every game was a fight.
“That was a huge difference for me because I play for Ohio State and we’re the number two team in the country right now.”
Still, Braendli is happy to be playing no matter where she is.
“It’s still the same sport, it’s still hockey,” she said. “You play against the best players in the world in China. Here, you play against the best college students.”