Photo credit: rsport.ru
With the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi approaching, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin has been doing a bunch of Russian-language interviews to promote the games and his sponsors. Over the weekend, Ovi spoke with R-Sport and– after he got in a plug for Gillette and his steely character— he talked about his family, Maria, and his favorite spots in Washington. It’s a good read.
Weird thing: despite being world-class athletes back in the day, Ovechkin’s parents don’t understand why Ovi needs more than one car. Kids these days.
Alexander, your emotional demeanor on the ice are well known. Tell us, are you just as emotional in life?
I think you can say that Alexander Ovechkin on and off the ice are two different persons. Because I have one character when I am on the ice, and completely different in regular life.
How is it different?
Probably more even-tempered, calm, and reasonable.
Can your everyday life emotions affect your game?
Certainly, because all my emotions on the ice reflect the atmosphere I am in, the people around me. A lot depends on the mood.
What allows you to feel confident on the ice and in life?
On the ice – my physicality, and in life, probably my character, a strong inner core. I think there is a good reason we have been working together with Gilette and P&G company for a few years: this brand has a steely character, just like mine. Overall, I am self-confident, because I achieved everything I wanted. Well, of course not everything, it’s just a figure of speech (smiling). But I have become what I wanted to be, and now I have to give the maximum effort to maintain the brand, so to speak, and continue to move in the direction I chose for myself.
Who helps you in a difficult moment?
Of course it’s my parents, my family. Mom and dad – they are the first people I ask for advice, for help. It would be hard for anybody achieve anything without family, and I am no exception. It’s difficult to overestimate my parents’ contribution to my success, they have done everything for me that was needed.
You probably don’t ask your parent for help as much now, do you?
Why? It is not a problem for me to ask my parents for advice. They are more experienced people, they have lived a long life, and they have been in all kinds of situations.
Alexander, we got a chance to talk right between two of your photo shoots. What’s your attitude toward photo-shoots and promotional actions?
I understand that it’s part of our job, that thanks to photoshoots, my face and my name will be known around the world. But it’s important that it doesn’t take too long. When everything happens quickly, it’s more interesting.
How long was your longest photo shoot?
About nine hours. By the end of it, there was no energy, no emotions left. (smiling)
You participated in various promotional actions during your summer in Moscow. What else did you do during your break?
Whatever everybody else does when on vacation: hanging out, going with friends to the restaurants and movies.
(Smiling) If in moderation, why not? Met my classmates at the end of August.
How long do you usually stay in Moscow in summer?
About a month, a month and a half.
Your three favorite spots in Moscow?
Dacha, apartment, and one of the restaurants – I don’t have just one favorite.
And in Washington?
Verizon Center, Café Milano, and a soccer field, where we get together with some friends and kick around, just for fun.
How do you spend your days off, when you get them during the NHL season?
On days off I just like to lay down and watch TV. Maybe go with the guys somewhere. In reality, there are very few free days. Last season, shortened because of the lockout, there were only two!
So you have lived in Washington for eight years now. Do you feel like you belong in America?
I do. There are no problems, the kind that I experienced during my first season in Washington. I bought a house, I have met everybody. I know people, they know me. I feel very comfortable in America.
Was it hard at first?
When I just arrived in Washington, I realized right away that here they waited for me, respect me, and want the best for me. It helped a lot. I never regretted that I came specifically to Washington.
Do your parents live in Washington with you? Or do they visit during the season?
They come for a month, a month and a half at a time, and then return to Russia. My father stays here longer, because he really like it here in Washington. I really like it when my parents are with me. Although they grumble at me sometimes because of my interest in cars (smiling).
You already have seven automobiles. How many cars would you like to have?
The more [Ed. Note – There’s no “MOAR” in Russian… yet], the better, but in fact my parents already tell me: “Sasha, why do you need so many?”
And how do you answer?
I tell them it is my main hobby, my dream, and there is nothing I can do about it.
What is the most prized part of your collection?
(Laughing) All cars are good, if I single one out – the others will feel offended.
Are there any models of great rarity?
No, all of them are modern. I like powerful cars. Be it an off-road, sedan or coupe – a car must be powerful.
For the last two years, whenever Alexander Ovechkin is talked about, Maria Kirilenko always mentioned. Tell us how you met.
It was quite incidental, at US Open 2011. I walked up to Nadya Petrova during her warmup for the doubles match they played with Masha. Mash and I started talking, we exchanged phone numbers, and that’s how everything started.
How long was it between the first time you met, and the start of your relationship?
For the first month and a half, we were only writing to each other, every day. I can’t even imagine how much was spent on all that texting. (smiling) Then Masha moved in with me, and we started living together.
What makes Maria special for you?
Everything! She is special for me, that’s why I chose her.
Alexander, when is the wedding date already?
(Laughing) For now, it’s undetermined. There is still no date. Wait for our announcement.
You often appear at Kirilenko’s tennis matches. Is she giving you tennis lessons?
I often play against her father, Yuri Kirilenko. Unfortunately, not as frequently this year as last, because I had a broken foot, but in 2012 during every Masha’s tournament that I came to, we played tennis with her dad.
What about Maria herself?
(Laughing) Well, I have no chance there, you understand. That is the same as if she came out against me on a hockey rink. I know all the rules, but as a player – I am mediocre. Even haven’t learned to serve properly yet.