News / Europe

Russia Aims for Gold as Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Competition Begins

Alexander Ovechkin and Vladislav Tretiak, President of the Russian Ice Hockey Federation, speak to the media in Sochi, Feb. 12, 2014. (Jon Spier/VOA)
Alexander Ovechkin and Vladislav Tretiak, President of the Russian Ice Hockey Federation, speak to the media in Sochi, Feb. 12, 2014. (Jon Spier/VOA)
Parke Brewer
The Russian men's Olympic ice hockey team is hoping to atone for its poor showing four years ago at the Vancouver Olympics in Canada, while the Canadians will try to defend their title and the U.S. aims for gold after a silver medal in 2010.
 
Presumably in a show of solidarity, the entire Russian men's Olympic Ice Hockey team showed up for its pre-tournament news conference at the main Press Center in Sochi.  And they drew the biggest media crowd for any of the formal sessions held with athletes.
 
Normally, it would just be the president or general manager of the team, the coach, the captain and a few other players. Like all the top teams here, the Russian squad is filled with professionals from North America's National Hockey League (NHL).
 
The Russians are aiming to win their first gold in the sport since 1992 when they played under a banner called the Unified Team, which was a joint team comprised of 15 former Soviet republics.
 
Four years ago in Vancouver the Russians were humiliated in the quarterfinals by host Canada, 7-3. It left a bitter taste in their mouths and was devastating to their fans.
 
And that is why the pressure will be even greater on them when they play before their home fans in Sochi.
 
Russia forward Alexander Ovechkin laughs with teammates during a training session at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 10, 2014, in Sochi, Russia.Russia forward Alexander Ovechkin laughs with teammates during a training session at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 10, 2014, in Sochi, Russia.
x
Russia forward Alexander Ovechkin laughs with teammates during a training session at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 10, 2014, in Sochi, Russia.
Russia forward Alexander Ovechkin laughs with teammates during a training session at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Feb. 10, 2014, in Sochi, Russia.
Russian forward Alex Ovechkin, a star on the NHL's Washington Capitals, acknowledged that. 

"Who[ever] is the host of the Olympic Games probably has the most pressure, and I'm pretty sure we're in the same position like Canada was four years ago," he said.

"But I'm pretty sure we have experience and old enough guys to handle that pressure. And I'm pretty sure everything is going to be fine.  Like as soon as we step on the ice we're going to think about the game and think about how we're going to win the game and not about pressure and other stuff," Ovechkin added.
 
Vladislav Tretiak, a three-time Olympic gold medalist for the former Soviet Union, and President of the Russian Ice Hockey Federation, offered his remarks.
 
"We know that we enjoy a lot of support here, but we also know we have a lot of responsibility. We have a lot to answer for, but sports is sports. Our team is going to try and show their best game. We will try to do our best, but how we perform, we will have to see. We will see the results later, but everyone on the team understands what they are expected to do," Tretiak said.
 
Top challengers

Canada, Sweden and the United States are expected to be the top challengers for the Russians.
 
In Vancouver, the U.S. team lost the gold medal to Canada, 3-2, in a heartbreaking defeat in sudden death.
 
Zach Parise, the captain of the US Olympic ice hockey team, speaks to the media in Sochi, Feb. 11, 2014. (Parke Brewer/VOA)Zach Parise, the captain of the US Olympic ice hockey team, speaks to the media in Sochi, Feb. 11, 2014. (Parke Brewer/VOA)
x
Zach Parise, the captain of the US Olympic ice hockey team, speaks to the media in Sochi, Feb. 11, 2014. (Parke Brewer/VOA)
Zach Parise, the captain of the US Olympic ice hockey team, speaks to the media in Sochi, Feb. 11, 2014. (Parke Brewer/VOA)
U.S. team captain Zach Parise, a forward with the NHL's Minnesota Wild, had scored the tying goal against Canada that sent that game into overtime. He said the Americans have a hunger to get back to the gold medal match but they know it won't be easy.
 
"Coming so close in Vancouver was a special thing, but it was tough. It was a tough way for us to finish just because knowing we finished second last time is not guaranteeing anything. We know how hard it is to get back there. A lot of things have to go right," he said.
 
Parise said while the Canadians came through under the spotlight as Olympic host in Vancouver, now it's the Russians turn to try to equal that success. 

"We all saw in Canada what pressure they had on them, and they ended up delivering, but it can be a hard thing with the expectation level with the talented players that they have," he noted. "But being at home ice definitely has its advantage, there's no question. But at the same time there's a little added pressure that the home team is going to have to deal with."
 
The Russians play their first preliminary round group match in the tournament on Thursday against Slovenia.  On Saturday the hosts will take on the United States. Team USA opens against Slovakia Thursday.

Click here to see VOA's Winter Olympics site

Error rendering storify.

You May Like

South Korea Divided on Response to North’s Cyber Attack

In past five years, officials in Seoul have accused Pyongyang of hacking into banks, government websites, causing chaos and inflicting millions of dollars in damages More

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Bentiu

Residents have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy, but planning for the future remains uncertain as fear of attacks looms More

2015 Could Be Watershed for Syria Conflict

Republican control of US Senate in January could lead to more aggressive policy against IS militants in Syria - and against regime of Bashar al-Assad More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil Wari
X
Adam Bailes
December 22, 2014 3:45 PM
In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil War

In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Jane Monheit Christmas Special

Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Town of Bentiu

Six months ago, Bentiu was a ghost town. The capital of northern Unity State, near South Sudan’s important oil fields, had changed hands several times in fighting between government forces and rebels. Calm returned in November and since then, residents of Bentiu have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy. Bentiu’s market has reopened there are plans to start school again. But fears of new attacks hang heavy, as Benno Muchler reports from Bentiu.
Video

Video US Business Groups Press for Greater Access to Cuba

President Barack Obama's decision to do all he can to ease restrictions on U.S. trade, travel and financial activities with Cuba has drawn criticism from some conservatives and Republicans. People who bring tourists to the island and farmers who want to sell more food to Cuba, however, think they can do a lot more business with Cuba. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.

All About America

AppleAndroid