Christmas abroad: good wishes from Russia

They all made their dreams come true. Their passion to run on the ski slopes at over 100 km / h has become their profession. Their good knowledge of hockey has led their teams to the most prestigious awards. Or they’ll dress up as Team Canada to participate in the most prestigious junior hockey tournament.

But these dreams don’t come without sacrifices. Far from their families for several months, these athletes and coaches will once again celebrate “the most beautiful night in the world” thousands of kilometers from their homes.

For the fourth year, Bob Hartley will be celebrating the holidays in Russia, approximately 7,000 kilometers from his family. But despite the distance, the head coach could see his granddaughters’ eyes light up as they unwrapped their presents. On December 25 of each year, he spends 1 to 2 hours on FaceTime to participate in the famous contest.

Among these, it is clear that there are typical games of the country adopted by Hartley.

Russian dolls of course, but also Masha, the comic book girl Masha and THE BEAR. The Slavic Barbie, who quickly became the favorite of her 2 and 3 year old granddaughters, especially the eldest, sports a smile in her voice.

“During my career, I missed a lot of events, he admits. From graduation, Concerts. But that doesn’t just happen in hockey. Of course, I would love to be there, especially now that I’m a grandpa, but I talk to them two to three times a day, every day. “

“And spending an hour or two on FaceTime on Christmas is like I’m here, without the ‘glue’ and the kisses!” I’m living it the best that I can. “

Alone at Christmas

Hartley was only too well aware of what he was getting into when he accepted the Omsk Avangard coaching job in 2018. He knew he wouldn’t see his family very often. Last year, due to the pandemic, he was away with loved ones for 11 months.

And even if his wife Micheline comes to join him in Russia this year, she will still be away from him during the holidays.

Instead, she will be celebrating with her two children and grandchildren in Florida, a central location for this family spread across North America, and even the entire world.

On the way to Helsinki

Hartley was also aware that the KHL calendar, which doesn’t break at Christmas – Russians celebrate January 1 instead – would rob him of precious moments with those close to him.

This year Hartley will celebrate Christmas with a trip to Finland. Avangard meets Jokerit in Helsinki on December 26.

“Even if the league took a two-day hiatus over Christmas, that would be how long it would take for me to be reunited with my family,” says Hartley.

“So when we are not traveling we stay in the apartment and talk to our families.”

Stretching people in the Kremlin

Except for his year. partner Forever “, the ex-Scandinavian Jacques Clutter, went to celebrate the 1is January amid a wave of people in Moscow’s Red Square, where the Kremlin is located.

“We wanted to experience it once in our lifetime,” he says. We went to dinner and then stayed all evening. There are all kinds of festivities, not just fireworks: circuses, acrobats, singers. It’s incredible! “

“There are so many people out there that it probably took an hour to walk 100 feet. But the people are very nice and there is a lot of security. I’ve never been to New York on New Years Day, but it should look like this.

A Christmas dream with Junior Team Canada

The players who will wear the Team Canada colors in the coming days have dreamed since their childhood of spending at least one birthday away from their home country at the World Junior Hockey Championship which takes place each year during the holiday season.

“I don’t think we can sit better on vacation! Launch of Elliott Desnoyers. Of course, we won’t be at home, but it would be exceptional to be able to spend this time with the team.

“Every year, I watched it in my living room with my family, but there, I am in the entourage of the team. It really is special. Even a few days after my choice, I am still in seventh heaven, ”adds Xavier Borgolt.

The two forwards are not sure what Christmas Eve will look like around Junior Canada in Edmonton. The players will face the ice from December 26 to face the Czech Republic in the late afternoon. “We have been treated very well here since our arrival,” says Burgolt. I think we’ll have a team dinner and some freebies. “

santa claus is here

Kaiden Guhle, he can confirm. Canadian Prospects, named Captain Canada, is his second appearance in the tournament.

“Of course, it’s easy not to be with us on Christmas, but we are all making the dream come true. They organize a meal for us. Last year on New Years Eve we had a traditional turkey dinner.

“One of the members of the organization was also disguised as Santa Claus,” he continues. We would sit on it and he would give us presents. They did a great job giving us Christmas. “

And this year – unless the health situation changes – parents will be able to attend their fans’ games.

“My parents will be there towards the end of the tournament,” says Burgolt. For now, I still try to talk to them a lot, even though the days are busy. “

Food fights, Christmas markets and FaceTime

Alpine Ski Team Members Celebrate Holiday in Apartment in Europe

The alpine ski team have been invited to dinner with Elka Stohic (bottom right), a Slovenian snowboarder.  Pictured: Marie-Michel Gagnon, Lawrence Saint-Germain, Irene Melczynski, Ronnie Remy, Valerie Grenier as well as Stohk's mother and brother.

courtesy photo

The alpine ski team have been invited to dinner with Elka Stohic (bottom right), a Slovenian snowboarder. Pictured: Marie-Michel Gagnon, Lawrence Saint-Germain, Irene Melczynski, Ronnie Remy, Valerie Grenier as well as Stohk’s mother and brother.

Lawrence Saint-Germain and Valérie Grenier knew from their beginnings with the Canadian alpine ski team that their love of the mountains and their speed would lead them to spend Christmas in Europe year after year.

The calendar of the International Ski Federation has been drawn up. This season, Lawrence Saint-Germain will compete in the Linz slalom slalom in Austria at the end of December.

As other World Cup competitions take place on the Old Continent earlier in December, it is difficult for the skier from Saint-Ferréol-les-Neiges to return home for the family vacation.

But over the years, the girls on the alpine ski team have learned to celebrate Christmas with their “second family”.

“Usually our coaches find us apartments in Italy or Austria so that we can spend time together during the holidays,” says Saint-Germain.

“small parties”

Valérie Grenier, Lawrence Saint-Germain and Irene Melczynski decorate birthday cakes.

courtesy photo

Valérie Grenier, Lawrence Saint-Germain and Irene Melczynski decorate birthday cakes.

On the program of activities in this apartment in the mountains: training for the next ski events, but also homemade Christmas dinners, visits to Christmas markets, cookie recipes, board games and gift exchanges .

Laurence St-Germain and Valérie Grenier with chocolate on their faces after preparing the dessert.

courtesy photo

Laurence St-Germain and Valérie Grenier with chocolate on their faces after preparing the dessert.

And sometimes the “little party” – because when you approach major competitions, you don’t party too much – until it turns into… food fights!

“We’re together all the time, so it’s my second family,” said the skater. So we make it as family-friendly as possible. It’s festive but calm! “

Mom unwraps the presents

And FaceTime is also on the list. The 27-year-old skater goes to bed late so she can join her family by video at the start of the party.

“My mother wraps my gifts. Then she unbuttons in front of me during the roll call, Saint-Germain laughs. And they have them when I get back around mid-January!

The Quebec skater admitted that she did not find it easy, she spent her first Christmas away from her family. But over the years, I accepted the idea. The last time I celebrated the Holidays in Quebec was five years ago.

“This is the year I injured my knee,” she explains. And you don’t want to be home at Christmas because you’re hurt… ”

Another birthday on the way home

Valérie Grenier will also be in Linz in the last days of December, where she will run the giant slalom.

“It must be four or five years since I came home on vacation,” said the 25-year-old skater. The only exception was two years ago when I was injured. “

Grenier of Mont-Tremblant has also gotten used to these birthdays over time, surrounded by members of the Canadian ski team.

“There was only one year where he was a little sad,” she recalls. Several girls and Marie-Michel were injured [Gagnon] He went on a trip to another place in Europe with his friend, because he was also skiing. “

“There was only one coach and I left. I felt a bit lonely! But the other years, we have fun, we stay in apartments together. We listen to Christmas music.

As she is only focusing on the giant slalom at the moment, Grenier could be heading home in early January. And sometimes his presents are waiting for him at home, ready to be opened.

“My family has waited several times to open the presents, so we can all open them together. Or if not, they throw another party for me, so I can unwrap them! ”


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