Putin visits USA house in Sochi
Russian President Vladimir Putin made an unannounced visit to the U.S. Olympic house on Friday, surprising athletes and others who were there, including NBC Connecticut's Kevin Nathan.
Embedded video_content_type: Kevin Nathan Finds Putin in Sochi
"It was an unexpected visit," said Scott Blackmun, the chief executive of the U.S. Olympic Committee. "We talked about mostly our impression of the games. He was very interested in knowing what we thought of the level of infrastructure. He was genuinely interested on whether we were having a quality experience at the games."
Putin dropped in with his healthy security detail at the gathering spots for athletes and their families in Olympic Park.
USA Today reports that Putin's security went to the USA House hours earlier and tasted drinks that would be served, including wine, Budweiser and water, as well as tasting brownies.
Word of Putin's tour quickly spread on Twitter, as the visits elicited some fun "selfie" photos of Olympians and the Russian leader.
"Just hanging out at the USA house in (hash)Sochi with Putin! No big deal! (hash)sochiselfie," tweeted U.S. luger Preston Griffall.
Photos show Putin on a couch behind Griffall's left shoulder, chatting with Blackmun and USOC President Larry Probst.
Putin also visited the Canada House.
Putin attended the opening ceremony of the Olympics last weekend and stuck around to see Russia win a gold medal in team figure skating. He then returned to Moscow for a few days, but not before visiting Holland House on the night speedskater Ireen Wust won gold in the 3,000-meters.
"I got a cuddle from him," Wust told Dutch national broadcaster NOS. "He congratulated me and asked if everything was OK in Russia and I congratulated him on (Russian speedskater) Olga Graf, of course, for her third place (in the 3000m). He was happy to see me, but then he had to leave again. But I cuddled him."
There was no sign of any of the lingering tensions between Putin and the West during any of his visits. As he made his way out of Holland House earlier in the week, he told a reporter his visit was "fantastic."
"Very good," Putin said in English. "Good people and good results ... good party."