Alex Ovechkin will be the first Russian to carry the Olympic torch on its journey from Olympia, Greece, to the opening ceremony at the Sochi Games.
The Washington Capitals star will carry the torch on the first leg of the relay after the flame is ignited Sunday in Greece. The 123-day relay will cover approximately 56,000 kilometers and make its way through 83 regions of Russia.
“I’m extremely humbled and honored to be the first Russian to carry the Olympic Torch,” Ovechkin said in a release provided by the team. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and something I will never forget. I would like to thank the Washington Capitals organization and all of my teammates for their support in enabling me to travel to Greece prior to the regular season.”
Ovechkin will fly to Greece after the Capitals’ Friday night game against the Philadelphia Flyers at Verizon Center. He will return to Washington on Sunday night after doing his part in the torch relay and practice Monday in D.C. before heading to Chicago with the team for Tuesday night’s season opener against the Blackhawks.
Ovechkin has been a vocal supporter of his home country’s Olympic efforts, most notably saying unequivocally that he would represent Russia in Sochi even if the NHL didn’t reach an agreement to allow the league’s players to compete in the Games. That deal eventually was reached, leading to a nearly three-week break in the NHL schedule in February to accommodate the Olympics.