BURLINGTON – Although she doesn’t have any points in four games, Lyudmila Belyakova is a promising young player on a team desperate for offense. She has good speed and size and is a strong skater, and with a little experience might well develop into a player who can take the team to the podium in Sochi.
When did you start skating? Why?
I started skating on December 28, 2001. I remember the date because it reminds me of the New Year. My dad and brother played. One time, I watched them practice, and they asked me why I was watching when I could play. So that’s when I started.
Who was your first hockey hero?
Maxim Rybin, who plays in the KHL.
What was the name of your first team?
The Northern Stars, a team in Moscow.
What made you want to take hockey seriously enough to play for the national team?
Hockey is everything to me. It’s my life. I live for it.
Why do you wear number 10?
I had it with the U18 team, so they gave it to me here as well. But, really, I love number 9 because of Maxim Rybin.
Any pre-game superstitions?
Not really. I listen to music to get ready for games.
What’s on your iPod?
I love Russian rap. It gets me focused and excited to play.
What do you remember about your first game with the national team?
I played a three-game tournament in Slovakia. In the first game, I scored two goals. I was only 15.
What’s your career highlight to date?
When I was younger, I played with a boys team, the Russian Young Stars. That was very special.
What’s your greatest strength and biggest weakness?
My strength is scoring goals. My weakness is to take too many penalties.
Who on your team do you most admire? Why?
Tatyana Burina. She’s very experienced, and she’s also a centre, like me. I like to watch her at practice and learn from her.
What do you want to do after your playing career?
I want to enjoy a private life, which I don’t have right now because it’s all about hockey. But as well, I’d like to be a hockey scout.
Finish this sentence. This will be a great tournament if…
…if we compete for a medal.