Yuri, Igor and Dmitry walk into a bar. No, that isn’t a bad joke. Those are the first three Russians we met.
Wearing Russian jerseys helped break the ice and by the first goal, 12′ in, Yuri bought us a round of vodka. By the second goal at 43′, Dmitry had joined our group and was in our group. The goal for Russia at 78′ was about the time Igor invited us to play hockey with him; the 90′ goal was when we were invited to Igor’s house for dinner and the 93′ goal was, well, just another shot of vodka.
If the Russan’s were surprised to see a group of Americans in Russia when the US didn’t qualify, they were even more surprised to see us all wearing customized Russian jerseys and leading the bar in “Ru…sss…ia” chants. I guess not a lot of Russians are coming to the US in 2026 wearing US jerseys singing “USA!”. We couldn’t walk past a group or table without taking pictures or being offered vodka. The former was ok, the latter didn’t end well for us. One lost phone, two lost people, and a lost Uber ride to Siberia were some of the casualties of the first night.
Not surprisingly, they thought we had American doppelgängers. Maybe less surprising considering Russian culture, our doppelgängers were 1980’s celebrities: Danny Devito and Jack Nicholson.
But, we found people that were our actual doppelgängers: