sochi

Meet the Sochi native who's an Olympics breakout star

Feb. 10, 2014 at 5:02 PM ET

Image: Matt and Ludmila
TODAY
Matt and Sochi native Ludmila, sitting on "Lover's Bench."

Talk about a Sochi surprise! Ludmila Schetkina is a TODAY Olympic breakout star. 

Last week, she was flirting with Matt Lauer on "Lover's Bench." Monday, she danced with snowboarder Sage Kotsenburg to "Get Lucky" — and even held his gold medal!

Image: Ludmila and Sage
Jen Long / TODAY
Ludmila holds Sage's gold medal on the TODAY set Monday.

She's even gaining a following on Twitter. 

The Sochi local told TODAY.com she's having the time of her life. "It's so exciting," Ludmila said through a translator. Visiting Olympic Park for fun has been a real treat: Normally, she works four jobs to make ends meet.

"Death is coming soon," the mom of two — including a "famous Sochi doctor" — and grandma of three joked. "I'm happy I could see all of this," she said as she stretched her arms across the venues towards the torch.

TODAY producer Jen Long first discovered the fur-clad charmer when visiting Riviera Park, where she works at an aquarium. 

"I noticed her because she's very colorful," Jen said, adding that Ludmila knew nothing about TODAY or Matt Lauer. "We asked her if she'd be part of a funny piece for American TV, and she agreed." 

Image: Ludmila and Jen Long
Steve Veres / TODAY
TODAY producer Jen Long met Ludmila Schetkina on a shoot with Matt in Sochi.

In the segment that gave her a star turn last Wednesday, she and Matt sat on Sochi's famous "Lover's Bench." "According to local legend, if you come here with your special someone and you pop the question, she'll say yes, and boom! You're in a relationship," Matt said.

"He's a simple person," Ludmila said Monday of Matt. The translator noted that in Russian, that's a compliment similar to saying he's down to Earth. "Usually people of his level, of his fame are different, and he's a good person."

But the couple may not last through Valentine's Day. As Savannah joked this morning that they are “still going strong,” Matt put an end to the teasing when Sage started to join in. “Don’t start,” Matt joked.


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