Alex Ovechkin is ready to rack up airline miles. Hopefully, he can sleep on a plane.
Ovechkin confirmed Tuesday the news that he will travel to Greece to start the Sochi Olympic torch relay Sept. 29, two days before the Washington Capitals’ season begins in Chicago. He does not intend to miss any games.
“We just have to find a plane,” Ovechkin said, according to The Associated Press.
A flight from Washington, D.C., to Athens is 10 hours, 47 minutes, according to flightmath.com. Athens is 160 miles west of Olympia, where the torch relay starts.
Ovechkin said his agent is working with the organizers of the Sochi Games to figure out the logistics. He joked he could “take some medicine” to sleep while flies back and forth across the Atlantic. It helps that the Capitals aren’t scheduled to practice on Sept. 29, but he’ll want to be back in time join his teammates on the ice the next day for their final skate before traveling to Chicago.
“It’s a huge honor for me,” Ovechkin said, according to the AP. “I’m very proud the Russian federation asked me to do that. … It’s only a once in your life opportunity to carry the torch and represent your country.”
Ovechkin is considered one of Russia’s biggest stars heading into the Olympics. The Russian hockey team’s task is clear, to win the nation’s first Olympic hockey title. The Soviet Union won every title from 1964 to 1988, except 1980, and the Unified Team won in 1992. But “Russia” has never finished better than second, as it did in 1998.
One of the stars of the 1998 team, Pavel Bure, recently declared Russia an ‘indisputable’ favorite next year. Canadians, Americans, Swedes, Finns and Czechs may not agree with that statement.
Also, tight travel is nothing new for Olympic hockey. Recall American Jack Johnson, who was determined to participate in the 2010 Olympic opening ceremony even though the hockey competition didn’t start for another four days and the NHL was not yet on its break.
The Los Angeles Times and NHL.com were among the outlets to report the details of his journey:
Johnson, then a member of the Kings, finished a Thursday shootout loss to the Edmonton Oilers the day before the cauldron was lit in Vancouver. At 6 a.m. on Friday morning, he took a two-hour charter flight to Bellingham, Wash., then hired a driver to take him across the border for Friday night’s ceremony.
After the Friday ceremony, he drove back to Washington and took another charter flight home to make it to Kings practice at 10 a.m. Saturday.