Alex Ovechkin no longer sounds completely confident that he’ll be suiting up for Russia at the PyeongChang Olympics.
“We’ll hope I’ll be allowed to participate,” he said in Russian, according to Sport-Express via a Washington Post translation. “There’s always a chance.”
Ovechkin has for years said that he planned to play in the 2018 Winter Games even if the NHL doesn’t participate.
The NHL announced in April that it would not send players to the Olympics for the first time since 1994. That’s when Ovechkin was very firm in saying he would defy the league.
“I said already, I’m going and it doesn’t matter what,” Ovechkin said on April 4.
A key man in this situation is Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, who has not been quoted in mainstream media on the Ovechkin issue since April.
Leonsis supported Ovechkin last year but backed off a bit in April, according to a Sports Business Daily story after the NHL announcement.
“What the league now does with the IOC, I will wait to see what happens,” Leonsis said, according to the report.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has repeated that the league expects all NHL players to stay with their clubs during the Olympics. The league has not announced what sanctions, if any, players (or their clubs) would face for going to the Olympics.
Lindsey Vonn’s top rival for downhill gold is in danger of missing the upcoming Olympics.
Ilka Stuhec, a world champion Alpine skier from Slovenia, suffered a torn ACL after a practice crash in Austria this weekend.
Stuhec had become a strong medal favorite for PyeongChang after winning FIS World Cup titles in downhill and Alpine combined last season. She also won a gold medal in downhill at the 2017 World Championships, where Vonn placed third.
According to a post on the FIS website, surgery is set for this Wednesday, with more information to come after that. But preliminary reports suggest that she is likely to miss the Olympics.
“For now it looks like Ilka Stuhec will have to miss a large part or maybe the whole World Cup season, including the Winter Olympic Games in South Korea,” a spokesperson for Struhec told Reuters.
In a tweet, Struhec acknowledged that she would be sidelined “for a few months.”
The Olympics start in less than four months.
Mikey Lillis, a 17-year-old aerials skier, died in his sleep at his home in East Rochester, N.Y., overnight Saturday, according to U.S. Ski & Snowboard.
“We are a family, and as a family our entire team grieves for Mikey, his own family and his teammates,” U.S. Ski & Snowboard President and CEO Tiger Shaw said in a statement. “We’ll remember him for the pathway he was following and the goals he was beginning to achieve. Our condolences go out to his parents Bernie and Jamie and the entire Lillis family.”
Lillis was working his way to join his two older brothers at the elite international level. He made three podiums on the Nor-Am Cup tour between the last two seasons.
Jon Lillis, 23, is the reigning world champion in aerials. Chris Lillis, 19, won the FIS Rookie of the Year award last season with four top-10 finishes on the World Cup.