Noelle Pikus-Pace of the U.S. celebrates after winning second place in the women's skeleton event at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics

Sochi Olympic Daily Recap & Medal Count: Day 7

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After going through so much both on and off the ice, U.S. skeleton racer Noelle Pikus-Pace finally has her Olympic medal.

The U.S. skeleton racer won the silver today in the women’s skeleton behind gold medal winner Lizzy Yarnold of Great Britain. Pikus-Pace, a former world champion, has battled through injuries from a bobsled crash, a fourth-place finish in Vancouver and a miscarriage two years ago. But today, her Olympic dream was realized.

“This is everything I could have imagined and more, just to have my family here with me and all of the love and support and cheers we’ve had, and all of the trials we’ve had to overcome to come to this moment,” she said afterwards. “This is as good as gold.”

VIDEO: Complete Team USA recap for Day 7

Her emotional breakthrough shared top billing today with a men’s figure skating final that was supposed to feature a sizzling battle between Yuzuru Hanyu and Patrick Chan for the gold medal.

But while those two did indeed duel for victory, they were both far from flawless in their free skates. In the end, Hanyu emerged victorious while Jason Brown of the U.S., after being in medal contention to start the day, wound up finishing ninth…

The men’s Alpine skiing super combined was not a good day for Bode Miller and Ted Ligety. Both Americans finished outside the Top 10 in the downhill section, and were unable to make up ground in the slalom and finished out of the medals. Miller shared his frustration over his result on Twitter but did congratulate the podium finishers, led by gold medalist Sandro Villeta of Switzerland…

Here’s a quick rundown of the other medal events this afternoon in Sochi:

In hockey, the women had the day off while the men’s side featured four contests, including Team Canada taking a 6-0 win over Austria. Here were the other contests:

Out of competition, U.S. Speedskating has reportedly asked for the option to switch out of their current suits after a tough series of opening races…

An Irish skeleton racer went for a jaw-dropping ride in men’s skeleton

Vladimir Putin stopped by Team USA’s headquarters…

Team USA athletes celebrated Valentine’s Day

There was a bit of monkey business going on at the men’s super combined…

TODAY’s Meredith Vieira is the next one to step in for Bob Costas as NBC Olympics host…

And snowboard slopestyle gold medalist Sage Kotsenburg palled around with Jimmy Fallon.

MEDAL COUNT – Feb. 14
(Country – Gold/Silver/Bronze – Total Medals)

1. Germany – 7/2/1 – 10
2. Switzerland – 5/1/1 – 7
3. Canada – 4/5/2 – 11
T-4. Norway – 4/3/6 – 13
T-4. United States – 4/3/6 – 13
6. Netherlands – 4/3/5 – 12
7. Belarus – 3/0/1 – 4
8. Russia – 2/5/5 – 12
9. China – 2/2/0 – 4
10. France – 2/0/2 – 4
11. Poland – 2/0/0 – 2
12. Austria – 1/4/0 – 5
13. Japan – 1/2/1 – 4
14. Slovenia – 1/1/2 – 4
T-15. Great Britain – 1/0/1 – 2
T-15. Korea – 1/0/1 – 2
17. Slovakia – 1/0/0 – 1
18. Sweden – 0/5/2 – 7
19. Italy – 0/2/2 – 4
20. Czech Republic – 0/2/1 – 3
21. Australia – 0/1/1 – 2
T-22. Croatia – 0/1/0 – 1
T-22. Finland – 0/1/0 – 1
24. Latvia – 0/0/2 – 2
T-25. Kazakhstan – 0/0/1 – 1
T-25. Ukraine – 0/0/1 – 1

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

Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic venue progress video

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The next Olympics, the Pyeongchang Winter Games, are in 530 days.

Organizers of the first Winter Olympics in South Korea published a time-lapse video of venue construction on Thursday.

The video shows updates for the main coastal Olympic Park, including short- and long-track speed skating, figure skating and hockey arenas, the sliding center in the mountains and the Olympic Plaza, which will house the Olympic Stadium for Opening and Closing Ceremonies.

As NBC News reported, one concern is a potential lack of natural snow, which 2010 and 2014 Winter Games organizers had to deal with as well. Man-made snow is always a safety-net option.

MORE: Pyeongchang 2018 mascots unveiled