Alexey Cherepanov: 18-year-old “hawk ” from Ozerkov

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Snow-covered evening Moscow. Alexei Cherepanov, an 18-year-old boy from Avangard Omsk, who in his years surpassed the records of Ovechkin, Malkin and Bure in the number of abandoned pucks, is warmed from the frost by a jacket with a disco-soffit inscription on its back: JOE. Everything would be fine, but the rising star of hockey – Cherepanov is predicted to have a career in the NHL, he dreams of getting into his favorite team Colorado Avalanche – to the question “Did you like how Peter Forsberg played there?” gives the answer: I like the way Joe Sakik plays. Colorado Captain and Spiritual Leader Joe Sakik are referred to as “Silent Joe” for his way of communicating with reporters. Better to do, Sakik thinks, than to speak. Cherepanov, who is giving perhaps his third interview in his career, is cautious. Like, he got burned by journalists, now he carefully filters his every word.

On the ice for Cherepanov his performance speaks. The blue-eyed boy who made his way from the Barnaul village of Ozerki to Omsk and goes out on the ice today with Popov and Kuryanov scores and scores … From the outside it seems that he does it with the utmost ease.

He goes to trainings by taxi, communicates on equal terms with Czech Pavel Rosa and asks the question: how can you not love yourself? He does not consider himself a star yet. Although this is a matter of time.

– Alexey, who is the star for you? – I ask him the first question.

– We have a lot of stars in our team, but I have not seen a player better than Jagr. In general, there are as many stars as you like – Malkin, Ovechkin, Crosby … All of them?

– Do you consider yourself a star?

– Well, what kind of star am I? If coach Valery Belousov hadn’t believed in me, hadn’t put me on a link to Popov and Kuryanov, thanks to whom I, in fact, score today, then I certainly wouldn’t have been sitting here with you, talking, not going to the World Cup … Much depends on partners. All that I have achieved is only thanks to those people who believed in me. I say a huge thank you to them, but I myself work on myself, I do not stop there.

– Kuryanov and Popov did not gnash their teeth: did you find a prodigy here? ..

– There was no such thing. As soon as I got to their link, at first I drifted, responsibility pressed. But Anton and Sasha just friendly patted me on the shoulder: come on, come on, boy, go ahead! One can only dream of such guardians. They are just professionals, they themselves went through it all.

– Kostya Koltsov from Ufa told that in Pittsburgh one player was poured beer to score …

– It’s too early for me to relax. You just have to strain at my age.

– And in the game, pulling the blanket over yourself is probably too early?

– On the ice we are all one team. And if everyone plays for their own bonuses, some in the forest, some for firewood, there will be no result. The guys at Avangard clearly understand this. Moreover, we have such a kind atmosphere … It is no wonder that we are among the leaders.

– What, in your opinion, is the secret of the effectiveness of any striker? In particular, yours?
– Everything comes from training. If you hit the goal from a bulldozer: “scored, not scored – it doesn’t matter”, there will be no sense. We have to give all the best in the full program both in training and in the game – then the result will come.

– It flatters that today you are put on a par with …

– (Interrupts, guessing what the question is about). Yes Yes.

– … With Ovechkin, Malkin, Crosby?

– Yes, these people are well-deserved, we must be equal to them. They have talent. And at the same time, it seems to me that nothing is given so easily to anyone. This is constant work on yourself, desire, persistence, obstinacy, or something. I don’t want to praise myself, but at my age guys find different hobbies for themselves – they want to go for a walk, and instead I ran in training, because I clearly decided for myself that at the age of 18 it was a shame to sit on the neck of their parents. Since childhood, I have played football with my father and older men. So there was someone to take an example from and what to strive for.

– Are you the only son in the family?

– Yes.

– So you were cared for and cherished?

– Yeah (smiles). Holili. Sometimes they put them in a corner on a rug. Until I apologize to my parents for my faults, I will not rise from my knees. He was nimble: I’ll get involved in a fight, then I’ll do something else.

– Now, probably, the news reached Barnaul itself – the son of the Cherepanovs on horseback?

– Well, of course. In seventh heaven with happiness that I, pah-pah, everything is working out. All congratulate them, send greetings.

– Maybe they are already being carried around the Ozerki in a Mercedes?

– Who will carry them? (Laughs.)

– City leadership, for example. You’re probably a local hero now, aren’t you?

– Not a hero yet, just starting the path. Well, what kind of Mercedes is there if the distances in our village are measured in meters? For example, from our house to grandmother’s hut – a hundred meters.

– In childhood, did you run around other people’s gardens?
– What for? My grandmother has her own farm: a vegetable garden, pigs, chickens, cows.

– In “Avangard” you were not accepted as a guy from the village?

– In the team, everyone has different biographies. Simple – what’s the difference? People are all the same. The main thing is that the person is good, and the rest is nothing – even if you are from a collective farm, even from the capital. For me, for example, there is no land dearer than the village of Ozerki. And I do not intend to hide my origin. I am proud of my parents. My father works as a coach, brings up children in various sports, my mother is a geography teacher. Yes, and I myself was still some kind of drummer at school (laughs). A little short of the medal.

– Are you proud to have outdone your peers in agility and accuracy? Do you feel superior to them?

– I have just played in the Super League, in Omsk, and they are there – at this level. But I have not changed my attitude to anyone, and I myself have not changed. With whom I communicated, with those I continue. Although new “friends” are suddenly trying to appear, I quickly “stop” those who come. Those who have been with me since childhood – those I hold in high esteem, have already been tested by time. There is a wise proverb: if you want to lose a friend, borrow him money.

– Do you borrow?

– Yes (drawn out). There is nothing else to take (laughs). And the salary was long ago.

– And what did you spend the first on?

– First big or small?

– Great!

– It has never been so big, but I put the little one on my phone (laughs).

– Big money – a test for a person?

– It depends on what. They will definitely not spoil me, although I like to live beautifully. I’m just used to buying what I like. I don’t even chase fashion to somehow stand out from the crowd. I like the thing – I take it.

– Are you proud?

– Yes. How can you not love yourself? It seems to me that any person loves himself.

– And if some bruiser pushes you into the subway?
– Then we’ll have to click him once (laughs). There is no metro in Omsk. So there is nowhere to push.

– On what do people move?

– Well, this is not Moscow. There is a type of transport such as bus, trolleybus, tram.

– And you – to the rink?

– I AM? By taxi.

“Our people don’t take a taxi to the bakery,” Mordyukova said in the Diamond Hand …

– Ours go! 80 rubles to the rink and 80 back. I dial the same number, but taxi drivers are different all the time.

– Can you buy a personal car?

– You can, but there is no desire yet. Besides, at my age it is sometimes useful to walk.

– Do you feel dizzy from the bright prospects?

– Already used to everything. What is the prospect here? Go further, work – use your chance. I don’t know what lies ahead, let’s see – everything is not smooth in life – but if fate turns to me like that, then I would be a fool if I did not use it to the fullest.

– Are you arrogant?

– What do you mean “arrogant”? I myself am from the village, I went through everything from the very beginning and was brought up in such a way that the same star fever does not threaten me. Yes, I have character. Many people say it is difficult. Is it difficult for you to talk to me?

– It’s not difficult, but the feeling of distrust is slipping …

– I also have a distrust of journalists. Now I say what is needed, not what comes into my head. I will not give the name and surname of the correspondent, but for a while I even started communicating with journalists. I did about three boxes, which was inconvenient in front of the guys. An idiotic situation, I make excuses: they say, I did not think that this happens. And they told me: it still happens not like that. Okay, now I’ll be careful.

– So now you are not naive and distrustful. Careful?
– I can be open, even tell people the truth in the eyes, but without a microphone. Maybe this is the first and last time I see you. You can ask what you need and put me in a gray-brown-crimson light.

– You are so smart beyond your years, I am amazed.

– And then! I am still studying in the first year of the Academy of Physical Education. Although, honestly, you get so tired of training that your eyes cannot look at the study. I will not hide the fact that teachers give me concessions. An athlete, after all, not a candidate of sciences.

– Is there anything you can do about the housework? To score a puck is understandable, but a nail? Or screw in a light bulb?
– And who cannot, show me that? No arms, no legs, except what? There is one hole, nowhere else to twist.

– Do you remember how you scored the first goal?

– ABOUT! Then I was the happiest person on earth. It seems that they called me from all over the world, but in my heart this was happening! This feeling will never be forgotten, just like the one when I first went on skates at the age of three. I even still have a photograph.

– Do you sleep well at night?

– Well, nightmares certainly do not dream. When everything is in order, then you sleep well, but only different thoughts come into your head.

– For example, how to get to the NHL faster?

– One should not think about it, but strive for it.

– And if in Omsk you are offered a contract larger than there?

– Need to think.

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