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Author: Kirill Belyakov (Soviet Sport Newspaper)
Translated By: Sergei Schweitzer
Date: 12/26/2006
Semen Varlamov (Washington Capitals): My legs numbed in Canada.

2007 U20 World Junior Championships

Semen Varlamov accepting the MVP Award at the U18 Four Nations Tournament in Mytische Russia (Photo Source - Lokomotiv 2 Official Website/Yana Romanova)
Semen Varlamov (Washington Capitals): ďMy legs numbed in Canada.Ē

The 18 year old young man who stormed into the Superleague with Lokomotiv was born in Samara. Itís surprising that a soccer mad city has given us such a talented hockey player. Varlamov is without a doubt half the team for this yearís junior team.

On the fatherís footsteps

ďI have loved hockey since my childhood, ď Ė Semen recalls the beginning of his career. Ė ďMy father and I went to a hockey game where our local CSK VVS was playing and in the intermission, there was an announcement that the hockey school is holding tryouts for the 1987 born kids. We decided not to wait for our year (Semen is 1988 born) and two days later I joined the hockey school.

Have your parents been involved in sports?
S. Varlamov
: My father played soccer in his youth and then play hockey for four years so I went on his footsteps.

Your biography says that you played for Lada in 2001Ö
S. Varlamov
: For some reason, everyone considers me to be Togliatti-trained and itís upsetting to hear it for me. The mistake stems from 2001 when Lada took me as a reinforcement for the Russian championships finals. Itís normal practice.

Where did Lokomotiv spot you?
S. Varlamov
: At a regional tournament in that same 2001. I played for the Povolzhie team and the Lokomotiv representatives invited me to visit their city and find out about the living conditions so my father and I went on a tour to Yaroslavl. We liked what we saw and within the next month, I became a Lokomotiv player. We knew that my chances of improving in Samara were much lower than in Yaroslavl.

Did you live in Yaroslavl on your own?
S. Varlamov
: Yes. My father only drove me there. Lokomotiv has three locations in Yaroslavl. One is for the players who are 16 years old and younger, the second is for the farm club players and the third one is for the masters team players. I managed to live at all three.

Do you manage to go back home sometimes?
S. Varlamov
: Only on vacation which usually begins on May 15 and for a few days during the New Year.

50 shots a game

Last season was extremely eventful for you. First the U18 World Championships and then the U20 World Junior Championships..
S. Varlamov
: You are right, it was a very difficult season. I had to work hard in order to play consistently for my team (the Russian U18 team). I have great memories about the Canada-Russia challenge. Those who watched it will understand me. It was exhausting, high tempo, physical hockey. There are many adjectives that can be used to describe those games. Can you imagine I had to stop 50 shots per game! My legs were weakening during the third period and I could barely stand which is why I let in five-six goals. Vladimir Popov (Sergei Mikhalevís assistant with the junior team) liked my play though and I was given a chance to go to the World Junior Championships. We played two exhibition games in Canada before the start of the tournament. I didnít play against Canada, but I shutout Switzerland in two periods and understood that I made the team.

Your only game at the World Junior Championships was against Latvia and it must have been a memorable one.
S. Varlamov
: It was a great day and we won 3:1! Itís unfortunate that we lost to Canada in the finals, but I must say, playing against Canada on their home rink is something unbelievable! Hockey is religion for them and they have great fans. As a spectator, itís a great experience, but itís very difficult to play in this situation.

This summer you played at the Pajulahti Cup which was your first game for Lokomotivís main team. Did you have a feeling that you have a chance to become the starting goalie that you canít let get away?
S. Varlamov
: No. The coaches didnít make a secret that they favoured the experienced Egor Podomatsky, but unexpectedly, Vladimir Vladimirovich (Yurzinov) believed in me by giving me the starting job which Iím forever grateful to him for.

Do you remember your first game in the Superleague well?
S. Varlamov
: Of course. We played Krylia Sovetov on September 19th and won 5:4 in overtimeÖ To be honest, I was very nervous before my debut and had too many unnecessary thoughts going through my head. I was thinking about everything but the game and only settled down halfway through the second period.

What is the current junior teamís strength when it doesnít have any Ovechkins and Malkins?
S. Varlamov
: Our strength is in discipline and organization. If we give our best in every game, follow the coachesí orders and donít take unnecessary penalties, we can win the gold. We are only looking for a win and werenít trained for anything else.

Going for the first gold of the year.

At this summerís NHL draft, you were chosen 23rd overall and were the first Russian player to be selected at the draft. Were you expecting this kind of success?
S. Varlamov
: Thatís the thing that I didnít expect it at all! I didnít even go to Vancouver for the draft and really regretted it later on. Who knew? I was very happy.

Playing in the NHL is my dream and I plan to go there in a year or two. You only get once chance to play in the best league in the world and I donít want to lose it.

Are you afraid of the North American minor leagues?
S. Varlmaov
: No. What is so scary about them? Bryzgalov spent five years in the AHL. Not everyone is capable of stepping into the NHL right away and you canít get frustrated if you donít make it right away. Work and more work is the only way to success. I read Bryzgalovís interview in Soviet Sport where he says that he would advise Varlamov to spend some time in the minor leagues and I agree with him.

Is there a goalie who you look up to?
S. Varlamov
: Patrick Roy. I have many tapes of his play at home. I like his style of play and he is a great goalkeeper. If only I could meet him one day, - dreams SemenÖ

What would be your New Yearís wishes for the Soviet Sport readers?
S. Varlamov
: I wish them the most important thing in life, health. Everything else pales in comparison. From me and the team, I will try to make the Russian fans happy with the first gold in the new year.

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