Sochi 2014 Russian Medalists got brand new Mercedes Benz vehicles (RIA Novosti)
Medvedev Hands Out Car Keys to Russia's Olympic Medalists
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday handed out the keys to a fleet of brand new Mercedes as prizes for the country's Olympic medalists at the Sochi Winter Games.
Russia finished a wildly successful home Olympics, which closed Sunday, at the top of the medal table with 13 golds, 11 silver and nine bronze for a historically high total of 33.
In a ceremony at Vasilevsky Spusk next to Red Square, Medvedev congratulated 44 medalists and distributed the keys. Three classes of Mercedes were on offer for the three medal colors.
"I was a bit shocked at the car I was given," said biathlete Anton Shipulin, part of Russia's gold-winning relay team. "Of course I knew what kind of model it would be, but I didn't totally believe it," he said. It's Shipulin's second car from the Russian state after winning bronze in the same event in Vancouver four years ago.
The cars come on top of prize money: Gold medalists have been promised $120,000; silver medalists $76,000; and bronze medalists $52,000.
Russia exceeded all expectations by topping the medal table for the first time in 20 years. In the process, it laid to rest the failure of Vancouver 2010, when it won just three golds in a performance universally denounced as a national disaster.
Future of Russia's Hockey Coach Hangs in the Balance
Zinetula Bilyaletdinov (RIA Novosti)
The world hockey championships are just over two months away yet the fate of Russia's national team coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov is yet to be decided.
The 58-year-old shouldered the blame for the host nation's humiliating elimination from the Sochi Olympics earlier this month, when a team packed with NHL talent went down 3-1 to Finland in the quarterfinals.
Bilyaletdinov's contract is up on Saturday, and if he wants a new one he'll have to convince the Russian Hockey Federation he's the top candidate at an executive committee hearing next Wednesday.
Time is of the essence with the world championships running May 9-23 in Minsk, the capital of neighboring Belarus.
"Whether or not he works through the world championships will be decided at the executive committee meeting," the federation's executive director Valery Fesyuk told R-Sport on Thursday.
No other candidates have put their name forward publicly, but speculation has grown in the Russian media that former coaches Igor Zakharkin or Vyacheslav Bykov may be in line for a return.
Bilyaletdinov took over from Bykov in 2012 and immediately won that year's world championships, but struggled at the two major tournaments since then, finishing sixth at the 2013 worlds and fifth in Sochi.
Published by exclusive arrangement with Around the Rings’ Sochi 2014 media partner RIA-Novosti.
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