Minggu, 21 September 2014

Has Strictly Come Dancing's Kristina Rihanoff stolen a THIRD co-star from his ... - Daily Mail

By Alison Boshoff for the Daily Mail

Knock-out: Kristina with boxer Joe Calzaghe. He dumped his model girlfriend in 2009, but went on to split with Kristina last year

Knock-out: Kristina with boxer Joe Calzaghe. He dumped his model girlfriend in 2009, but went on to split with Kristina last year

To be involved in one Strictly Come Dancing love-split is unfortunate. To be involved in two — to borrow loosely from Oscar Wilde — looks like carelessness. And when you're suspected of being the 'other woman' for a third time, perhaps that could be described as making a habit of it.

This is the invidious position today of dancer Kristina Rihanoff, who rejoices in the nickname 'The Siberian siren.'

The 36-year-old had a dalliance with dancer Vincent Simone allegedly behind the back of his pregnant girlfriend in 2008 — although one report at the time claimed Kristina was unaware of their relationship.

Next she fell for boxer Joe Calzaghe, who promptly dumped his model girlfriend in 2009, but went on to split with Kristina last year.

Now questions will doubtless be asked about Kristina's relationship with her Strictly 2013 partner, the rugby star Ben Cohen.

Their on-screen chemistry was blazingly obvious during the show, and they continued to partner each other on the Strictly tour earlier this year. That Kristina really likes Ben is not in doubt. Soon after they met on the show she called him 'the sweetest guy in the world'.

And this week — just as the show starts up again — Cohen's marriage to Abby, his childhood sweetheart, has collapsed faster than you can say foxtrot, rumba, cha cha cha.

As rumours began to swirl early this week, Abby denied that they had any problems. 'Of course it's rubbish — of course it's wrong,' she said. 'I've been with him since I was 16.'

However, on Wednesday night, lawyers for the pair were singing from a different script.

'Ben and Abby Cohen have agreed to take time apart to deal with some marital issues but remain fully committed to the welfare of their children,' they said.

'There is no third party involved, and Ben and Abby now ask that their privacy and that of their family be respected at this difficult time.'

The Cohens, both 36, have retreated to their large home in Northampton which they share with their twin daughters, aged six, to try to resolve their issues.

So what might these 'marital issues' be?

The fact that Ben was with Kristina Rihanoff the day before the announcement, supporting her at a charity initiative, has only made everyone suspect that she is indeed involved in their troubles.

Just before the announcement from Ben and Abby, pictures were published in a Sunday newspaper showing Cohen and Rihanoff sitting happily on the Tube together.

He was looking at her with great tenderness, his arm casually draped around her shoulder. The picture was taken in June this year, long after the show and the tour were over.

So could Kristina, the Siberian siren of Strictly, have done it again — or is the relationship a purely platonic one?

On one level, it would be no surprise if there was more to it. After all, the show is responsible for numerous dancer-celebrity flings — from Brian Fortuna and actress Ali Bastian in 2009, to Artem Chigvintsev and actress Kara Tointon, the Strictly winners in 2010, and, most recently, Pasha Kovalev and Countdown's Rachel Riley

Sparks: Kristina and Ben's on-screen chemistry was blazingly obvious during the show, and they continued to partner each other on the Strictly tour earlier this year. That Kristina really likes Ben is not in doubt

As judge Craig Revel Horwood put it this month: 'Being up-close-and-personal all day every day, and working on some really sexy moves together, it's almost inevitable.

'It's very close, very physical work, and you have to get quite intimate — so these things do happen. That connection is never a bad thing during the routines.'

Nor is Miss Rihanoff denying her involvement in the current unhappy brouhaha. Instead, with a certain amount of hard-headedness, she is offering only: 'No comment'.

Unofficially, her friends are saying that she denies ever having been romantically involved with Cohen, even though he is a hunky young man and appears to be exactly her type.

One associate reveals that Cohen's wife Abby was 'extremely jealous' of the friendship which developed between her husband and the pneumatic blonde.

The account given by Ben himself, in an interview, would tend to back this up. He said his wife visited the studios one day, observed him 'twerking' with Rihanoff and promptly left.

The look of love? Kristina with Strictly dancers Vincent Simone - with whom she had a dalliance - and Flavia Cacace

The look of love? Kristina with Strictly dancers Vincent Simone - with whom she had a dalliance - and Flavia Cacace

However, Rihanoff's PR spokeswoman Lara Gould, who also represents Ben Cohen, denies Abby was jealous or perturbed by her husband dancing cheek-to-cheek with Kristina.

What cannot be denied, though, is that Rihanoff seems very happy for now to be at the centre of the storm. One source closely associated with the show tells me that a dollop of scandal is widely seen as good for the hoofers.

'Every one of the dancers feels vulnerable to the chop — but if you are in the middle of a story, then the theory is that the production will want you back next year,' he said.

'Kristina is well known and popular with the public, but they all feel insecure — and some people on the show think that she is starting to look a bit old by comparison with the new, younger dancers.

'Also, she has been there for a long time by Strictly standards. So the whole thing with Ben can only do her good.'

And if Kristina is anything, she is ambitious to be as famous and as wealthy as it's possible to be — and already does all she can to supplement the £30,500 which the BBC pays dancers for the 12-week series.

She regularly goes on the Strictly tour, and in 2013 was also in the West End show Burn The Floor. More than that, she brings out a calendar, available from her website, which features pictures of her chiefly in her underwear or swimwear.

More money is made from selling autographed photos (£10.50 for just her, £8.50 for her and professional dance partner Robin Windsor) and selling off old costumes. (A tan Lycra catsuit embellished with crystals can be snapped up for £850.)

In addition, she is available for private lessons and corporate events, such as demonstrations and shows, adjudication, personal appearances, meet and greets, and so on.

In July, she appeared with Strictly dancer Ian Waite at Cherie Blair's 60th celebrations. The two of them were said to have been paid £10,000 for a night's work.

And, there can be no doubt that she continues to make hay while the sun shines. In June, for instance, she turned up at Royal Ascot in a dress made out of shredded Coral betting slips as a rather cheap stunt for the bookmakers. Apparently, she made a further £15,000 from that.

She will have been paid again for turning up to Sir Elton John's end of summer party earlier this month in a striking diamond necklace — allegedly worth £1 million — by rising jeweller Vashi Dominguez.

Some of Kristina's associates are convinced that she now hopes to use Strictly and her notoriety to move into film work. She has said in previous interviews that she would like to be a 'Bond girl'.

Sizzling: The pair looked close when they shared the floor on Strictly Come Dancing last year

Sizzling: The pair looked close when they shared the floor on Strictly Come Dancing last year

Sizzling: The pair looked close when they shared the floor on Strictly Come Dancing last year

This naked ambition comes as no surprise at all to her former lover and dance partner Yevgeny Philippov, whom she dated for a few years before she moved to America in 2001.

'She knows what she wants and how to get it,' he said. 'She reaches her goals — at what price, it doesn't matter. This is what sport and showbiz are like for her — no holds barred.'

She and Yevgeny fell in love in Russia but she went to the U.S. to pursue her dreams of fame and fortune.

'Kristina made a name for herself. It didn't matter if the reviews were good or bad — they started to speak about her.'

Her origins are certainly humble. She was born in the Siberian city of Vladivostock at the height of the Cold War and named Kristina Pshenichnykh. Her father, Igor, was a local musician persecuted by the communist authorities.

After the fall of Communism, when Kristina was a teenager, Vladivostok faced an economic crisis. Her mother lost her job, and a crimewave saw the city briefly become one of the most dangerous on Earth.

I said to him: "Don't they all end up having affairs? Then, the first week he started, we broke up. Make of that what you will 

- Joe Calzaghe's former girlfriend, Jo-Emma Larvin 

Igor recalled: 'To say it was difficult doesn't describe the problems we faced. Like everyone else, we were spending hours queuing for food. This was a time of no jobs and no money.'

Kristina would give dance classes to help the family to buy food, and at the age of 21 she was 'spotted' in a dance contest and invited to travel to the U.S. to compete professionally.

She entered the Strictly arena in 2008 as the partner of BBC news man John Sergeant — whose total lack of dancing ability made him a sensation.

The following year it was Kristina who made the headlines, thanks to a fling with fellow dancer Vincent Simone. Simone dumped his pregnant fiancée Susan Duddy, an air hostess, after jumping into bed with Kristina.

The way Miss Duddy told it, Kristina was entirely cold about the consequences of her actions. She released text messages, purportedly from Rihanoff, which are not only littered with spelling and grammatical errors but are eye-opening to say the least.

One of them ran: 'I understand u r angry so u can put all of this on me. But why don't you take a step back and think as an adult. He did it because he is not happy with u. U even complaned to me about him. 'I can sent u his texts as well but I am a mature person and don't do thing like that. he gave me a beautiful gold heart neckless for Valentines day and it is all I need to know.'

It went on: 'I think u just desparate to be with someone like him because he famose. It is a shame he has to deal with u From the bigginig he made it sound like he wanted out of the relationship with u.'

One gets the sense that tact and subtlety are foreign qualities for Rihanoff in matters of the heart. An associate says: 'She is very Russian and direct.'

Simone, in the end, returned to Susan and they have gone on to rebuild their relationship and have had a second child.

Connection: Ben Cohen and Kristina on last year's Strictly Come Dancing. This week ¿ just as the show starts up again ¿ Cohen¿s marriage to Abby, his childhood sweetheart, has collapsed

Connection: Ben Cohen and Kristina on last year's Strictly Come Dancing. This week — just as the show starts up again — Cohen's marriage to Abby, his childhood sweetheart, has collapsed

Meanwhile, Kristina got involved with former boxer Joe Calzaghe in 2009. At the time, he was in a five-year romance with former model Jo-Emma Larvin, but within a week of starting training with Rihanoff the couple had split.

Miss Larvin was deeply upset when Calzaghe and Rihanoff were pictured embracing.

She said: 'I said to him: "Don't they all end up having affairs? Then, the first week he started, we broke up. Make of that what you will.'

When the romance ended last year, Rihanoff blamed long separations and Calzaghe's jealousy (apparently cricketer Mark Ramprakash was terrified about dancing too close to her when he was on the show in case he made the boxer suspicious).

Rihanoff told Hello! magazine last year: 'Joe wanted a girlfriend at home with his family in Wales, but he didn't want to get married or have children and I didn't want to give up that dream.

'If he had agreed to marry and have a family, I would have quit my career to make things work.' She went on: 'When we split up, I was devastated. I went home to my mum in Russia and cried it out for two weeks.

'But deep down I knew that if a relationship doesn't make you both happy, there's no point. And now I feel like I am in a much better place.' Calzaghe declined to make any comment this week.

And so Kristina enters a new season of Strictly, 'happily single' according to her agent Lara Gould, and trailing newspaper headlines which will only boost her fame and commercial desirability.

Whatever role their flirtation played in his marriage breakdown, it seems there is no chance that the spark between herself and Ben Cohen will turn into a lasting romance — which means that she will keep on looking out for her Mr Right.

As she observed in an interview, with more than a dash of that Russian ruthlessness: 'With dancing there's always chemistry … but there doesn't have to be love.'

 



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