SELKIRK -- Less than three months after giving birth to her second child, Jenny Potter is skating at the 2007 World Women's Hockey Championships.
Actually, when you factor in recovery time, it's less than that. She brought Cullen Potter into the world Jan. 8 but she couldn't start preparing for Winnipeg and Selkirk until the third week of February.
"You're supposed to wait six weeks after giving birth, which was really hard for me," the American forward said before the tournament started yesterday. "Being an elite athlete I want to get going and get in shape, but (the doctors said) I could have complications if I (started training) too early. That was pretty trying for me, waiting, but after that I went pretty hard."
"I may not be at the top of my form, but I'm pretty close."
Running every day, skating every day, working out in different ways leading up to the WWHC, Potter -- who's been with the U.S. women's program since 1997 -- is still a main cog in the American machine. Her leadership will be key on a very young club, which is why her new coach is thankful the 28-year-old is ready to go.
"It's sort of uncharted waters for me," said first-year coach Mark Johnson. "I haven't been down this road before. I saw Jenny a couple weeks after she had her second child and I could sort of see the twinkle in her eyes -- the readiness, the eagerness to get back training. The tough things as athletes is that we're used to playing at a certain level and sometimes we have to be patient before we can get to that level. That's probably the toughest thing for her to deal with. She wants to be right at the top of her game right now."
It's not like Potter hasn't done this before, though. In January 2001, she gave birth to her first child (Madison) and returned to the U.S. program for the women's worlds a few months later. She used that experience to guide her this time around -- knowing what training regimens work and which don't. Pushing her along through her vigorous workouts: The need to be at the rink, too.
"It's hard just standing on the sidelines," the Edina, Minn.-native said. "I played up until my fifth month (of pregnancy) and after that it was difficult to do a lot of the exercises I was used to. I kind of backed off, but yeah, I always want to play hockey. You don't know what could happen during a pregnancy.
"I have a love for the game and I always want to play hockey, but there are things that might come up to prevent you from that. I was fortunate everything went smoothly."