KUSA-Semyon Varlamov prefers to converse in his native language of Russian, and hopes his goaltending skills will land him a spot on the Russian Olympic hockey team for the Sochi Olympic Winter Games in February 2014.
9NEWS Crime and Justice Reporter Anastasiya Bolton, a native of Russia herself, took a break from her normal news beat to conduct a rare interview in Russian with Varlamov, who stresses that no one has promised him a spot on the Russian team in 2014, but he would definitely like to have one.
"Varly" as he's known to his teammates joined the Avalanche last season after three seasons with the Washington Capitals. He also played on the Russian team in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
"Everyone of course will expect a win from us," Varlamov said of the Sochi Olympics, on Russian soil for the first time since the boycott-plagued 1980 summer games in Moscow. "We'll be going to the Olympics to win for sure. We don't have another goal for the Olympics, other than to win."
The Russians haven't medaled at the Olympics since a bronze medal at the 2002 Salt Lake Games, when former Avalanche captain Joe Sakic led Canada to a gold medal.
Home ice advantage means a lot in Olympic hockey, so Varlamov knows that if he's on the Russian team in 2014 he will face high expectations, especially given the history of hockey success during the Soviet era, when the USSR won gold medals in seven Olympics from 1956 to 1988.
But Varlamov doesn't spend too much time worrying about that.
"If you think about what kind of pressure the Kremlin will impose, what others will think about our team, if we play well or not, you're not going to be successful. You should go to the Olympics leaving all your thoughts and doubts behind," he said.
Right now the goalie is concentrating on helping the Avalanche. Colorado has only 11 points so far this season, and needs to climb significantly in the standings in order to have any chance at the playoffs in a season marred by a labor dispute that reduced the number of games from the standard 82 game season down to 48.
But if he joins the Russian team in 2014 and if his team wins a gold medal, Varlamov admits it would be a highlight of his career.
"I think I would cry from happiness, because that's a dream of any athlete. It's the biggest achievement in sports to win the Olympic Games," he said.
(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)