SOCHI, Russia - The first hockey game between USA and Russia on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. local time.
Both teams are already practicing. Several Colorado Avalanche players are taking part in the Olympics for their home teams, including Russian-native Semyon Varlamov. This is the second Olympics for the 25-year-old, but it is certainly a high-stakes game on home soil.
"It's the result of the work well done from the age of 8," Varlamov told 9NEWS reporter Anastasiya Bolton. "Being invited to the Olympic Games is a result of the work well done. It speaks about, at 25, you are moving forward in the right direction."
In the country where the sport is huge and the days of Soviet ice dominance are remembered and missed, there is certainly pressure on the team to perform. Varlamov downplays it.
"Of course, the level and the sense of responsibility will be through the roof," he said. "But believe me, the level of responsibility here is no less than what we feel at World Championship, Olympics or any competition. It's always there. We live with it in our lives."
As the team practices to play against people, many of whom are friends, Varlamov says those relationships don't exist on Olympic ice.
"Believe me, when we hit the ice and play against each other, we won't be thinking about anything. There are no friends on the ice," Varlamov said. "Everyone will be concentrating on their job and of course if Paul [Stastny] has a chance to score, he will do that with pleasure, since he plays for Team USA. I represent Russia."
Av's center Stastny is on Team USA and both of the players have a very strong opinion on which team will bring home the gold.
"Who's gonna win the gold medal?" said smiling Varlamov. "It's an interesting question, I'm curious about it as well."