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By Pavel Lysenkov, SovSport.ru, July 24, 2008 "Going to Beijing to root for basketball team": (The article in pdf file)
As of today Alexander Ovechkin, the best hockey player in the world, is training hard during his off-season training, He is running cross-country crosses in the forest near Novogorsk, the suburb of Moscow. The Washington Capitals forward says that he is now ready to run a marathon at the Olympics. If this is a joke, you are right, but in August Alexander the Great will be in Beijing to root for the basketball team.
While Alex is running cross country somewhere in the forest your correspondent adjusts himself on the hot bench and begins the conversation with Mikhail Viktorovich, Ovechkin's father. Uncle Misha [Michael Ovechkin] is in complete delight. The other day he visited with his son Nizhny Novgorod. And now he believes that the city's infrastructure is not much inferior to America.
"I was stationed there when I was drafted in the army in the 1972-1973", says Ovechkin the Senior. "Back then Nizhny Novgorod was a gray, grim place. When I came back I couldn't believe my eyes. The small local town Lyskovo with population of only 26 thousand people has the hockey arena, the shooting gallery, and the swimming pool. And it is planned to build 16 more similar arenas in Nizhny Novgorod region!
I was crazed when I saw that children in schools are picked by the buses, as it is in the States. The groceries are full of food, the streets are clean. I became a fan of Nizhny Novgorod. Especially because some former Dynamo players like Chubarov, Kharitonov and Troschinsky will be playing for Nizhny Novgorod's Torpedo next season…
Alex went there to work with Alex Kovalev on hockey clinic for kids. The arena was sold out. I went out to have a smoke and asked the local guys what they were thinking about their Governor Valerie Shantsev. They almost applauded, "We won the lottery with him!"
P.L: I think you've exaggerated a bit on America's comparison.
M.O.: Why? In general, we are accustomed to underestimate Russia. For example, when the hockey player arrives to Russia from abroad [or from other Russian club] he gets an apartment, a car, a satellite dish, [all paid by the team] relocation money... In the NHL the player gets $ 100 per diem and he has to take care of himself. Before Alex bought a house in Arlington we were renting an apartment in front of the White House. Two rooms, one bathroom, a kitchen. That's all.
Meanwhile Ovechkin Jr. returns from his cross country race. He takes a sit. Tired, he opens a bottle of mineral water. Next to him is his fitness trainer Dmitri Kapitonov, fresh and ready. No wonder, Kapitonov is a marathoner with experience, he was competing in 2000 Olympics in Sydney.
"I am asking a favor, please don't make pictures of me", says Ovechkin. "The summer vacation is evident. Here it is, the fold on my stomach. Until I'll lose weight, no compromising pictures!" ..."Ok, just kidding. I was never overweight" Alexander smiles. "I have an excellent body, not an extra gram of fat. A washboard stomach... Call this reporting "The weekdays of Ovechkin the bodybuilder"… Hey, Dima, [he turns to Kapitonov] what is next? Hello? Houston?
Do you know that Sidney Crosby is the best hockey player of the year according to ESPN?
Congratulation to Crosby. He deserved it. (quickly answers Ovechkin.)
Wait, he didn't play a half of a season. And you got a bunch of trophies, including Hart Trophy for the most valuable player in the NHL. Don't you think it is not fair that on ESPN version Crosby is the best?
He has taken Pittsburgh to the Stanley Cup finals. And in general I can not collect absolutely all of the awards. One shouldn't be so greedy.
Do you know that one American rapper mentions you in his song? He argues that "one Alex Ovechkin is better than twenty Gretzky's".
Is that Eminem? (Sasha smiles). No, I haven't heard about this hit. But Caps fans recently composed a song in my honor.
It has something like, "When they broke his nose, he hammered in four goals"... against Montreal. And all of this to the tune of some slamming music like Rammstein. Well, it is true, you can't break your nose to Mozart.
P.L.: Washington already has four Russians, Ovechkin, Semin, Viktor Kozlov, Sergei Fedorov. At two more are in, Simeon Varlamov and Victor Dovgan.
Yes, we'll bypass Detroit with their Russian 5. (Alex smiles)
P.L.: It is happening because of your influence? Does the management consults with you when acquiring new players?
Sometimes I call George McPhee just to hear what's happening. But nobody asks me for any advice. Our superiors have their own heads on their shoulders. I got very excited when we signed a new contract with Fedorov. This is a serious improvement. Generally speaking Washington is almost at no loss, we only lost Matt Cook and we've replaced the goalie. I think that next season we should go further than the first round of playoffs.
P.L.: Where is Fedorov now?
I called him, but his cell was turned off. I think Sergei is somewhere in Miami on the beach relaxing.
P.L.: How will you spend the rest of the summer?
On July 29 I'll be flying along with Dynamo to Peter [St. Petersburg]. It's because Dima now works as a fitness trainer in our club. And I am going to Beijing for three days on August 9th. I was chosen as the face [of Russia?] in the Olympics.
P.L.: Yes, I've already seen the posters with your image on the streets of Moscow. So, you won't train for three days?
Why not? They will release the beach volleyball site for me. They'll cancel the competitions for Ovechkin to jog on the sand… More seriously I am going there to primarily root for the national team. I want to go to basketball games. Masha Kirilenko, the wife of Andrei Kirilenko who is the team's captain, already invited me to go. I think I can catch the games against Iran on August 10 and Croatia on 12th.
"And of course, a marathon", adds Kapitonov."I didn't train Ovechkin for nothing".
P.L.: What did you listen to on your player during this workout?
Ave Maria. There are two girls who sing the pop. They will be the superstars soon. I found their divine music on the Internet and now I only train while listening to them. If you taking an electric chair I recommend it with the music of Ave Maria", jokes Ovechkin.
We should clarify that the "two girls" are Alyonka and Diana, the daughters of Igor Larionov. They sang "Ave Maria" in the Red Square last winter before the hockey game.
P.L.: I noticed a purple scar on your right thigh. Where did you get it?
I was cut in the game against Pittsburgh. I was trying to hit, the opponent put his skate out. I had to leave to the locker room to fix it.
P.L.: And how many games you've missed?
None. The next day we've played against Ottawa and I scored four goals.
P.L.: It is amazing!
Russians don't surrender! :-) And now do you understand why I'd die in the summer while training with Kapitonov? [Because I want to be] more alive than any other living creature in the winter!
Free Tibet! (Disclaimer: This is my comment not representing Ovechkin's point of view by any stretch of imagination)