Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- No matter what language you speak, the goal this February will be to win a medal at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games.
For former University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) women's hockey player Aleksandra Vafina, this would be her second time as an Olympian.
"I can't explain that feeling," Vafina said of playing in the Olympics. "It's a big competition for every athlete and every sportsman, so it was a big event for us."
Vafina played just one season at UMD --- that was as a freshman last winter --- but even in that short time she recognized differences between hockey back home and in the States.
"It's a little bit different because, in Russia, the level of hockey is a little lower," she said. "The game is different. It's not so fast-paced, and you can deke a little more or wait for a good shot or good pass."
She acclimated quickly, though, finishing her only season as a Bulldog with four goals and six assists and leaving quite an impression with the UMD coaching staff.
"I'll never forget the very first game she was able to throw the UMD jersey on," Bulldogs assistant coach Laura Schuler said. "She had tears in her eyes, and she said this was a dream come true.
Another dream for Vafina is that Olympic medal, and should Russia win one in 2014, they'll do so in front of their home fans in Sochi.
"That's good, but it also means a little extra pressure on us," Vafina said of hosting the Games. "I think it's good that our fans and all the people can come and cheer for us."