Alex Ovechkin is the star captain of the Washington Capitals. He’s also the official ambassador of the 2014 Sochi Olympics for Russia, and his homeland’s most famous Winter Games athlete.
The weekend began with Ovechkin competing for the Capitals in a preseason game against the Philadelphia Flyers in Washington. D.C. It ended with him in Olympia, Greece, as the first Russian to run with the Olympic torch on its journey to Sochi:
As you can see, the ceremony was quite … elaborate. Costumed performers in the ancient Temple of Hera “asked the Greek God Apollo to send the sun's rays to earth to light the flame of the Olympic Games,” according to Russia Today.
(There was probably a time when Ovechkin surrounded by Greek goddesses might have been, er, a distraction. So thanks, Maria Kirilenko.)
The torch is actually lit by the sun’s rays, reflected in a large mirror. No artificial fire is allowed. Or fire Ovechkin pretends is there.
The first torch was carried by Ioannis Antoniou, an 18-year-old alpine skier representing Greece. He handed it to Ovechkin, who accepted with his typically goofy grin. Later, the NHL star tweeted the following exclamations of excitement:
For the record, “poot hahahaha” was been retweeted nearly 600 times in two hours ...
This torch relay will be the longest in Olympic history, going for 65,000 kilometers or 40,000 miles. There will be 14,000 torchbearers overall. It will be flown to Moscow on Oct. 6, and will be carried throughout the country for the next 123 days until the Feb. 7 opening ceremony.
The Sochi 2014 committee also confirmed that the torch will be the first in history to travel in space, approximately 400km to the International Space Station (ISS) on board of the Soyuz TMA-11M manned spaceship.
"Nobody has done this before. The spacewalk by two Russian cosmonauts with the Sochi 2014 Olympic torch will be a historic moment in the history of the Olympic torch relay," said head of the organizing committee at a press conference dedicated to the event.
So, has anyone told Ilya Bryzgalov about this leg of the torch relay yet?
As for Ovechkin, he’s scheduled back in Washington on Monday for a practice before the team travels to Chicago for Tuesday night’s opening game of the NHL season, where he will try and torch the Blackhawks' defense.