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After his tennis superstar girlfriend Maria Kirilenko won a bronze medal at the Olympics on August 5th, Alex Ovechkin tweeted to the world,”we take [the medal] to Moscow and make party!!” But that wasn’t the only reason Ovechkin returned to his home country.

A few days later, on August 10th, Ovechkin hosted a master class for children at the Yantar hockey rink in downtown Moscow (which coincidentally is only four miles away from Fedor’s house).

Before he hit the ice, Ovechkin– as well as Bojan Stricevic of Bauer Russia and Marcus Johnson of Bauer Europe– had some business to attend to. The three kicked off Bauer’s new competition, The Strongest Link, which rewards, in their words, “the invisible heroes of hockey.” Bauer is looking for touching stories about the European parents or coaches to whom, in the opinion of the youth hockey player, they owe much of their success.

The competition kicks off simultaneously in seven European countries, one of which being Russia. The winners of the competition will receive a trip to New York to see a Rangers game and a full year’s supply of hockey equipment.

“I really was like the other kids of my age,” Ovechkin, who signed a six-year deal with Bauer last September, told Dmitry Sheremetyev of “My Coaches, Mom and Dad… everybody supported me and taught me. It’s because of my parents that I’ve achieved a lot. The most important thing was my father, who quit his job to work with me.”

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After the press conference concluded, Ovechkin finally jumped on the ice with three groups of thirty children who each got an hour with the Russian machine. Ovi taught fundamentals to the kids and helped them with their wrist shots. At one point, Ovi nonchalantly snapped a wrister from the red line which went right under the crossbar. The kids responded with a collective gasp of woahs.

No child went home empty-handed. Bauer presented the kids with helmets, gloves, and skates. Ovechkin also signed autographs and took photos with nearly everyone. I bet the memory of sharing the ice with one of the greatest hockey players in the world was a pretty nice takeaway too.

Once the class was over, Ovechkin packed up his things and returned to Washington Sunday afternoon.

Additional reporting by Fedor Fedin.

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