Figure Skating - Winter Olympics Day 2

Sochi Olympic Daily Recap, Medal Count: Day 2

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Russia’s team of figure skaters are the toast of their nation after Day 2 of the 2014 Sochi Olympics. But there were plenty of other stars that shined brightly on Sunday.

We’ll start off at the Iceberg Skating Palace, which rocked with cheers after the Russians – powered by Yevgeny Plushenko and Yulia Lipnitskaya (pictured) – won the inaugural gold medal in the Olympic team figure skating competition. Team USA, led by Meryl Davis and Charlie White’s winning effort in the free dance, earned the bronze…

Attending that competition was Russian president Vladimir Putin, who cheered along with the rest of the crowd inside the Iceberg for their country. Meanwhile, Plushenko, still brash as ever, delivered a short and sweet message to his critics.

The gold was Russia’s first such medal in Sochi, while the U.S. added its second as Jamie Anderson won the women’s title in another new Olympic competition, snowboard slopestyle. The victory completed a U.S. sweep of the new discipline following Sage Kotsenburg’s Saturday triumph on the men’s side…

The slopestyle action took turns that were both humorous and scary. Anna Gasser of Austria had a comical, stumbling start to her first run, while Czech rider Sarka Pancochova took a nasty fall that split her helmet; thankfully, she got up and completed her trek down the course…

Alpine skiing got underway in Sochi with the men’s downhill. Bode Miller of the U.S. was looking like a gold medal contender after several great training days, but ultimately failed to hit the podium. While Miller struggled, Austria’s Matthias Mayer captured the gold ahead of a exuberant silver medalist in Italy’s Christof Innerhofer

MORE: Complete Team USA rundown from Day 2

Felix Loch of Germany won a second consecutive gold in men’s luge, while bronze medalist Armin Zoeggeler of Italy made history by becoming the first Olympian to win six consecutive medals in the same individual event. Finishing with the silver was Russia’s Albert Demtschenko, who earned his second overall Olympic medal…

Also grabbing golds today were Dutch speedskater Ireen Wust in the women’s 3000m, Slovakian biathlete Anastasiya Kuzmina in the women’s sprint, Swiss cross-country skier Dario Cologna in the men’s skiathlon, and Polish ski jumper Kamil Stoch in the men’s normal hill

After taking down Finland in their first contest with Jessie Vetter as goalie, the U.S. women’s hockey team announced that they will put Molly Schaus between the pipes for their next game against the Swiss…

Social media also continued to buzz around the Olympics. Boston Bruins star and Slovakia defenseman Zdeno Chara is becoming a legitimate photo op for his fellow OlympiansThe Twittersphere tried to cheer up Bode Miller after his tough day on the slopes…And the father of U.S. luger Tucker West has fueled the #TeamTucker movement after revealing on TODAY that his son was “very single” and “a little shy.”

MEDAL COUNT – Feb. 9
(Country – Gold/Silver/Bronze – Total Medals)
1. Norway – 2/1/4 – 7
2. Netherlands – 2/1/1 – 4
3. United States – 2/0/2 – 4
T-4. Canada – 1/2/1 – 4
T-4. Russia – 1/2/1 – 4
6. Austria – 1/1/0 – 2
T-7. Germany – 1/0/0 – 1
T-7. Poland – 1/0/0 – 1
T-7. Slovakia – 1/0/0 – 1
T-7. Switzerland – 1/0/0 – 1
11. Sweden – 0/2/0 – 2
T-12. Czech Republic – 0/1/1 – 2
T-12. Italy – 0/1/1 – 2
T-14. Finland – 0/1/0 – 1
T-14. Slovenia – 0/1/0 – 1
T-16. Great Britain – 0/0/1 – 1
T-16. Ukraine – 0/0/1 – 1

Claressa Shields congratulated by famous boxing actor (video)

Claressa Shields
Getty Images
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Claressa Shields may just be the most dominant female athlete on the planet. The Flint, Mich., native is now a two-time Olympic boxing champion with a 77-1 record and a four-year unbeaten streak.

Actor Mark Wahlberg, who played boxer Micky Ward in the 2010 film “The Fighter,” took notice.

He taped a video that Shields watched before a celebration in her hometown Thursday, according to the Flint Journal.

“You are the true definition of a champion,” Wahlberg said. “You continue to inspire so many people, not only in Flint, but all over the world. I’m so proud of you. Your performance was amazing. God bless you. I look forward to seeing you, and I look forward to doing lots of things with you.”

Now Shields must decide whether to turn professional, which would end her Olympic career.

“Professional women’s boxing is not nowhere near on the same attention level as the Olympics are,” the 21-year-old Shields said, according to the Flint Journal. “I get way more attention than any female boxer who is professional right now with me being an amateur.

“So the goal is to go professional but still have that same attention and same mainstream. Hopefully, if they have the rule changed that the women professionals can come back and fight the Olympics, I would go professional to fight on TV and make a bunch of money but then come back and defend my two gold medals in 2020.”

MORE: Shields becomes first U.S. fighter to win back-to-back golds

Russian Olympic medalists gifts include racehorse

Abdulrashid Sadulaev
AP
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MOSCOW (AP) — Luxury cars, apartments, even a racehorse — being an Olympic medalist in Russia can come with great material rewards but also controversy.

Under President Vladimir Putin, it’s become a tradition for Russia’s Olympic heroes to be showered with large cash sums and sometimes unwanted gifts.

On Friday, less than 24 hours after dozens of medalists were presented with BMW cars at the Kremlin by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, an advertisement appeared online offering one of them for sale, with photographs showing the car still covered in stickers celebrating Russia’s medal haul in Rio.

The advertisement offering the BMW X6 for 4.67 million rubles ($72,000) was anonymous and quickly withdrawn. It couldn’t be independently verified by The Associated Press, though Russian agency R-Sport claimed the seller was a Russian medalist who thought the car was too big and unwieldy.

Figure skater Maxim Trankov, who received a Mercedes-Benz SUV for his gold medal in 2014, said few Olympians could afford to own such cars.

“Has no one thought that these gift cars are not only liable for the tax on luxury items, but also aren’t cheap to run and earnings can’t cover it?” he wrote on Twitter. “I’d sell mine too if it came to it … Or does everyone think all sports pay as well as soccer, hockey or tennis?”

Gymnast Seda Tutkhalyan said she wouldn’t be able to drive her new BMW because at 17 years of age she was too young to have a license.

While online commenters mostly supported an athlete’s right to sell expensive Olympic gifts, many were critical of the government for a display of conspicuous consumption at the Kremlin at a time when Russia’s pension and healthcare systems are under financial strain.

It’s not fully clear how much the prizes have cost the Russian government.

State TV channel Rossiya 24 reported that the fleet of BMWs was provided by the Olympians’ Support Fund, which is backed by a group of Russia’s richest men, but that the accompanying cash prizes of tens of thousands of dollars per medalist came in part from the federal budget.

More awards are on offer from regional governments, many of which made public displays of generosity despite financial troubles of their own.

The Caucasus region of North Ossetia last month promised a free apartment for any medalists from the area, though it isn’t clear if this has happened yet.

In another grand gesture, the head of the restive Dagestan region gave Olympic wrestling champion Abdulrashid Sadulaev 6 million rubles ($93,000) in cash and a racehorse at a lavish welcoming ceremony featured on local TV.

Still, all may not be well for Sadulaev, who’s nicknamed the “Russian Tank” for his habit of crushing opponents on the wrestling mat. He’s already facing an allegation from a Moscow radio presenter of reckless driving in his eye-catching BMW.

MORE: Putin slams Russia’s Paralympic ban