Earlier this month we reported that Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin was named as one of five Ambassadors to the 2022 Special Olympics World Winter Games to be held in Kazan in January 2022. Ovechkin recently met with the Russian Olympic committee (above) prior to the official announcement to discuss the appointment with officials. During his visit he also sat for an interview with the TeamRussia website. The following is a translation of segments of the published interview.
Alexander, do you have more goals scored in your career or interviews today?
“Now I’ll count (laughs)… And no, you don’t have to count at all. And it’s so clear that there’s more interviews. It’s still easier to communicate with journalists than to beat the best goalkeepers in the world. Although interviews can sometimes be hard.”
If you had the opportunity to interview absolutely anyone, who would it be?
“Michael Jordan. He’s not just a legend. I think there have never been and will never be such players in basketball. I would definitely ask about his practical experience in sports – how he trained, how he built his career, how he followed his body. Because if you watch different videos, you get the impression that he was such a freak who liked to play basketball, wanted to always be the best and he did it so easily.”
What would 35-year-old Alexander Ovechkin ask 17-year-old Alex Ovechkin in an interview?
“Probably I’d advise him to follow the same path and have no doubts about anything. Unless you’re more careful in some life situations.”
It is clear that basketball is present in your life, Mom is a two-time Olympic champion, there are basketball friends, Vitaly Fridzon, for example. You are often seen at football games in Russia during your vacation. Do you practice any other sports yourself in your free time?
“Sometimes I play tennis with a good friend. They often invite me to play golf, persuaded to do it on a regular basis. But I tried it somehow (laughs). And the first shot was a “hole in one”. Since then, I’ve finished golf. Well, to keep the record. Well, seriously, of course, I can go play with the guys for fun in the future.”
What’s the idea of playing an official game for Dynamo… football?
“Why not try it? I would really like to play in an official game in order, for example, Lev Yashin to go down in the history of his native club as an athlete who went to both the football field and the hockey rink. Of course, many factors must coincide for this. So that the football club doesn’t hurt either. But there’s really a desire for that.”
It’s a pandemic now. The geography of trips is scarce. And the vacation that was longer than usual. Other things being equal, where would you like to go and see something new?
“First of all, I’d visit Japan and Australia. Many acquaintances have been to Japan and everyone says with one voice that this is a completely different world. Special, unlike anything else. It’s interesting to look at their way of life, technology. Well, Australia is a whole continent with amazing nature. My wife also says she’s very interested in South Africa. I fully trust her opinion.”
And if you have the opportunity to go to Tokyo next summer for the Olympic Games, will you use it? It’s July-August, theoretically it could coincide with the off-season in the NHL.
“If we have the opportunity, of course, we’ll go with the whole family. We’ll definitely cheer on ours. It all depends now on the coronavirus situation. Nobody, I think, doesn’t understand what will happen next in the world.”
Did the pandemic have a lot of impact on the family and lifestyle?
“It’s clear that you get used to everything, but it’s better to get used to something good. It’s bad that the coronavirus has crippled many people both lives and health. That’s the most important thing. It’s very sad to hear reports about people dying everywhere. Against this background, some private cases are relegated to the background. Taking care of family health is all for that now.”
Yes, you already have a whole personal book of records in Washington. By the way, haven’t they started writing an autobiography yet?
“No, it’s a little later. The book, I think, will definitely happen. There’s something to remember for your career. I think it’ll be interesting for people who are interested in sports and love hockey.”
What’s the first chapter about then?
“I think we should start from childhood. How did I get into hockey, what club did I get to? It’s a very interesting story.”
During your career, you’ve had the opportunity to play with a variety of partners. Who’s the strongest center with whom they went out on the same line?
“Sergey Fedorov. I can definitely single it out. Unique talent. At some point, we had a threesome in Washington with him and Sasha Semin. There was a very good understanding on the ice, the chemistry of the line as they say in such cases. We then came out in the same combination at the World Championships in Kvekbeck.
The most extraordinary coach you’ve ever worked with?
“It’s hard to say, every specialist is unique in his own way. If it’s about America, it’s probably with Boudreau and Oates. At the same time, all the coaches I had gave something for further growth. In Russia, when I first started, Semenov coached us at Dynamo, then Bilyaletdinov, whom I consider one of the strongest specialists, came. Well, I’ll highlight Oleg Znark more. He was worked with as comfortably as possible. You come out and realize that he does his best, and sometimes more, to make the team feel comfortable off the court.”
Let’s talk a little about those you know. And not just about sports stars. Here’s your photo with Leo Messi. A great football player playing for Barcelona, for whom you have long been rooting…
“Very modest guy. It’s not that we talked to him for a long time, but that’s what he made. He greeted everyone, smiled. Neymar is also a very pleasant person in communication. You can see that they are hardworking, love their job, life and football.”
“Funny and friendly. Just a normal guy.”
Does he know hockey?
“Of course. He’s the only one who’s a fan of Rangers, our longtime rivals.”
“The best President. Strong, smart and authoritative. Amazing in communication. Always sincerely supports the topic, will be happy to discuss everything, share his opinion. At the same time, you don’t feel like you’re talking to someone out of reach.”
I saw one interesting photo on the Internet where you go by bus and there is Ovechkin’s personal place. What kind of story is that?
“It’s in Washington, before the playoffs three years ago, a bus was made especially for the Capitals fans. They came, rode it around the city. Well, one was made personal.”
Is New Year’s Eve your favorite holiday?
“Yes, because we’re going home with the whole family, we’re in no hurry or in a hurry. Parents come, which is rare throughout the year. Family circle is very important.”
The main goal for 2021?
“In hockey terms, I don’t want to think about anything, and in life – so that everyone is healthy, that the pandemic ends as soon as possible and people, as before, will be happy.”