SOCHI SCENE: Russian star power
SOCHI, Russia -- The main news conference room at the media center in Sochi has seemed comically oversized for most of these games, with a couple dozen reporters filing into the 530-seat hall for various question-and-answer sessions.
Why build it so big? Why so many seats for an Olympics that isn't as high profile as the Summer Games and isn't as well attended by media across the world as, say, the London Games were in 2012.
Then the Russian men's hockey team arrived. Suddenly this great, expansive space seemed almost claustrophobic. Hundreds of reporters piled into Pushkin Hall on Tuesday to get a look at the stars of this Sochi show.
Alex Ovechkin, Pavel Datsyuk and the rest of the team squeezed on to the stage, along with three-time Olympic champion Vladislav Tretiak to talk about playing in their home country and trying to restore some pride to the hockey program after a poor showing in Vancouver. Here's what they were looking at as they spoke.
And like big stars do, the Russians made everyone wait. The initial press conference was scheduled for 1 p.m. Sochi time, but just as everyone was sitting down a press officer announced that it would be another 20 minutes.
When they finally did enter the room, they received a hearty ovation -- a big ethical no-no for American media. Tretiak was cheered when he responded to a question about the loss to the Americans in 1980 by pointing out that the Soviets did redeem themselves in 1984.
No big deal, guys. Just an entire country hanging on your every word.
"There is a certain pressure," Ovechkin says.
The Russians open Thursday against Slovenia.
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