By Philip Hersh, Tribune Olympic Bureau
7:54 AM CST, February 11, 2014
SOCHI, Russia – Jason Brown was intimidated at the prospect of getting on the ice with a living legend.
But Russia’s Evgeni Plushenko greeted Brown so warmly it did more than just allay his fears.
“The interaction with him made me so much more relaxed,” Brown said Tuesday.
It occurred Sunday, in the final practice before the team event free skate in which both Plushenko and Brown competed.
“He (Plushenko) came up and said, 'Hey, I’m a big fan of yours,'” said Brown, the 19-year-old from Highland Park. “I’m like, 'No, no, no, no, no, I’m a big fan of yours, what are you talking about, you’re amazing. And he’s like, 'You’re amazing.'"
That would be Brown’s first of two Sunday encounters with a celebrated Russian during the team event. After it ended, with Russia taking gold and the United States bronze, Russian president Vladimir Putin – dressed in a Russian team warmup suit - came to rinkside and shook the medalists’ hands – including Brown’s.
“It’s something that happens so fast you almost didn’t think it was real,” Brown said. “I think it is so cool that Putin is behind all the skaters. It’s incredible I can say I shook Putin’s hand. I was totally stars struck and having a hard time to grasp it all.”
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