SOCHI, Russia – From her black handbag — Hermes, crocodile, "It's a very simple and democratic brand," she'll have you know — the wife of Evgeni Plushenko fished out a banner and unfurled it.
"My heart is with you!" it said in pink letters, below a photo of the happy couple canoodling, noses touching.
Ahhh. Ain't that sweet?
Pink. The same color as Yana Rudkovskaya's fur hat. "Chanel, winter collection," she volunteered, even though you hadn't asked. And the grey coat? "Louis Vuitton," she replied. Really? So she undid the buttons and peeled it off, to show the label on the inside. How dare one doubt.
All this was unfolding in the "mixed zone," the pit (for lack of a better word) in the bowels of arenas and stadiums where reporters get to ask questions of Olympians and where Plushenko was holding court after leading Russia to its first gold in Sochi, in team skating."
It's extremely unusual for partners to join the mixed-zone fun. But then again, Plushenko isn't just anyone; in Russia, he's practically royalty.
And, lest we forget, "I am very famous. I am top three in Russian woman," volunteered Rudkovskaya, a music producer. She fished out one of her two mobile phones to show a picture of their baby son posing — being posed, actually — with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach. He's Alexander, she said. "Like Alexander the Great. The best name for a man in Russia. It's very strong, also very lucky."
Then she unclipped the black plastic cover off her IPhone. It has her husband's likeness on it in white. "For you, little present," she said, plopping it in the hand of this reporter, who proceeded to explain that he couldn't accept gifts from people he covers. "No, no," she said. "I have more."
Then, realizing that this reporter would not bend, she took it back and gave it instead to a Russian reporter. She yelped in delight.
See her banner here: https://twitter.com/johnleicester/status/432606437651779584
— By John Leicester — Twitter http://twitter.com/johnleicester
Associated Press reporters will be filing dispatches about happenings in and around Sochi during the 2014 Winter Games. Follow AP journalists covering the Olympics on Twitter: http://apne.ws/1c3WMiu