Ovechkin impressed right at the entrance to the training facility. More precisely, not Ovechkin himself, but his parked white BMW.
Imagine that, Ovi's bimmer had red pads with the sign "Ovechkin, # 8".
"This was a present for me in the States when I got the car," later explained Washington's forward. "I have brought this Bimmer from abroad in a container."
Ovechkin surprised even more, he had white and blue shorts with the number 24. Why this number? In honor of Alexander Frolov? Or Dynamo's rookie Johan H.? "I just took the first shorts at my mother's basketball club Dynamo," smiled Ovechkin.
After a run Alex went to the gym where he sweated for more than an hour. During the breaks we made several pictures and discussed the potential roster of the Russian Olympic team in Vancouver.
Ovechkin finished training with a long 10 km cross country run through the valleys and hills of Novogorsk. After that we sat at Dynamo training facility and talked.
How are you spending your summer? Where have you been, as always in your beloved Turkey?
Yes, you guessed well. We had a good company, played water polo, partied. Who was there? My friends, no hockey players so I won't tell the names. Why do I so often go on vacation to Turkey? I like the country, that's it. But for a variety I change the hotels every time... I also flew to Czech Republic, but was there on transit, stayed there for only two days.
You went to Sochi as well. You even got assigned some position there.
I've become the Ambassador of winter Olympics which will be held in our country in 2014.
What does this position mean? An honoured wedding VIP guest?
Why so? They could choose anyone to wedding VIP guest. I also have certain duties and powers which I must perform in connection with the Olympics-2014.
Still very vague... Are you going to represent PR for Sochi in the world? Have you become a face of a Winter Games?
Again, not quite faithful wording. Look, I play in North America. Every day I am being approached by reporters. If they want to ask me about Sochi, please! I'll take time to explain everything, about the city, about our country. Maybe calm down someone's fears.
The western media says that Sochi is not ready for the Olympics, that NHL won't participate, that the construction is not going well...
Oh, drop it! If you believe all the rumors your head may spin. Please don't pay attention to it. Do you remember any Olympics where someone played hockey at the unfinished arena? Where they competed in the biathlon at the route where there was no snow? Everything will be fine with Sochi, don't worry.
You visit them every year ...
Yes, I do.
Do you see if it is booming?
I do not inspect the facilities. But I know that Russia will hold an excellent Olympics.
This summer when you were in Sochi, you even played soccer.
Exactly right. In the first half I was goaltending, in the second half I played in the field and scored two goals by the way. I enjoyed playing in the field more than goaltending. Although when we play soccer in the small arena I often play a goalie. But I played for the first time on the big field and got lost a bit in the big goals, didn't look good.
You were recently honored in one of the Moscow nightclubs.
Yes, the party was awesome! Thanks to organizers, my managers, Ari Zakarian and Kostya Selinevich. I was struck by how many people came, and it was a beautiful and spectacular event... My friends, hockey players Sasha Semin, Serega Fedorov, Ilya Bryzgalov came too.
Were you a DJ?
Yes, along with Syoma (Semin) we played dance music that we love and sometimes the same music is played in the Washington's locker room.
How long have you already been training?
It's been one and a half week.
Is it hard to get into it?
I thought it would be even worse. But as it turned out, I was in good physical condition.
Are you missing your favorite business?
Yes, a bit. I miss the smell of ice, although I haven't started skating yet. I miss the fitness room. I miss a feel in your body when your muscles pleasantly hurt after workout. To be honest, I wake up every morning and think, shoot, can I skip the workout? But when I get to Novogorsk the passion for training erupts again.
In late August you will train at Khodynka, which will host the pre-Olympic training camp.
Yes, exactly. But what exactly we will do there, I do not know. Better ask the coaches, Bykov and Zakharkin.
You can't step on the ice, perhaps, you don't have the right. Otherwise somebody have to pay a huge insurance policy.
Give me a break, what insurance? Is there any difference how I'll go on the ice, with a team of Russia or with a team of Dynamo juniors?
There's a difference, NHLPA canceled the insurance payments to hockey players who could get injured at the pre-Olympic camps. God forbid if you fell on ice at Khodynka and get seriously injured, then you'll lose several millions of dollars.
Alright, you shouldn't fall then. Skate carefully. Do you know a tale where a mother would say to a pilot, "dear son, fly low and slow?"
No kidding, but German NHL players refused to go to their pre-Olympic camp.
I don't know about it. And my opinion is this: I do not see anything dreadful if the national team will get together and train for a few days. We won't fight with each other, we won't slaughter each other. We'll work out in the gym, we'll get out on the ice in front of our fans. These camps are not even for the training per se, but for the team's atmosphere, for camaraderie.
What are your feelings Vancouver Olympics? Do you hurry the time, want it as soon as possible?
Why? Life is going fast anyway. There is no need to rush it, let things go their course.
You are young, why your life is going fast?
Give me a break! It was like yesterday, a 16-year-old Ovechkin was training in Novogorsk, taking his first steps with Dynamo. And now I meet people who worked here back then. They smile, shake hands and ask, "Sasha, how old are you now?" And this fall I will be 24 years old preparing for the fifth season in the NHL...
One can say you are the Washington's veteran.
Yes, life flies in such a way that there's no time to even look back.
I recently worked at the world championship on water sports and talked to the British jumper. I said, "Your London 2012 is not far off. Is it hard when everybody is expecting a gold?". And he replies, "I don't feel any pressure, it will be fun."
I agree. For me any tournament, even the Olympics is fun. But in your head there is a thought that it might be just one chance in your life to take Olympic gold at the Winter Games. Especially now, when the Russian national team has the roster that is stronger than ever. If you won't take an advantage of this unique situation, you've got to be an idiot. So I feel a certain burden of responsibility.
What do you think about Hudler case? NHL and KHL pulled the Czech forward forth and back like in a tug of war.
It's not my problem. But Hudler didn't have a contract. Why he did not have the right to go to Dynamo?
And in the future, would it be good for NHL and KHL to sign the truce? Or rather, from the hockey players perspective, they only win from that war? If they don't pay you much in the NHL, you are going into Russia, and vice versa.
If each player will run after easy money, can you imagine what will happen? You need to think about the game first.
When are you going back to America?
I will be in Russia till the beginning of September. And I'll go back to Washington when the training camp will open.
How do you spend your free time here?
I have very few free time moments. Besides training there are a bunch of meetings, different events. On Wednesday, for example, along with Kovalchuk, Zhitnik and Saprykin I went to meet team Russia's sponsors. A chock-full of things to take care of.
You are also invited to a different TV shows. For example, to "Who wants to be a Millionaire?" show.
I am still not sure if I'd agree.
Is it irrelevant for Ovechkin the multimillionaire?
No, it's not about it. It's interesting, I won't argue. But they could ask such questions that few people can answer. I do not want to look like moron. It's one thing when I am asked about my life, hockey... And what if they ask, "What is the diameter of planet Mars?", what can I answer? However, there is still a chance that I will participate in that show.
How do you feel about tattoos?
Fine (Ovechkin was alerted). Why do you ask?
When you were working out I noticed that you have a tattoo on the back with two [Chinese] characters. I haven't seen them before...
Yes, I've put it recently.
And what do they mean, these characters?
I won't tell. It's personal.
But the reporters in the Wachington locker room will see it, you walk where in a towel!
So what? Let them see. And let them may ask what it is.
And what will you say?
I'll say that this is the main mystery of the XXI century. Let the journalists solve the puzzle so they won't be bored during the summer, when there is no hockey.
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