Russia’s hockey federation named Latvian Oleg Znarok its hockey coach Wednesday, tasked with bringing the national team back up after an underwhelming quarterfinal exit at the Sochi Olympics.
Znarok, 51, led club team Dynamo Moscow to back-to-back Gagarin Cup titles in the KHL the previous two seasons. His deal to coach Russia runs through the 2018 Olympics, according to R-Sport.
He takes over for Zinetula Bilyaletdinov, who in Sochi led a Russian team hoping to win its first men’s hockey Olympic gold since the breakup of the Soviet Union.
But it stumbled after an opening 5-2 win over Slovenia, losing 3-2 to the U.S. in a shootout and needing another shootout to defeat Slovakia 1-0.
Russia blanked Norway 4-0 in the qualification playoffs but fell 3-1 to eventual bronze medalist Finland in the quarterfinals.
Bilyaletdinov had a memorable press conference with Russian reporters after the elimination. He said, among other sound bytes, “eat me alive right now.”
Znarok played for the USSR and, after the breakup of the Soviet Union, was captain of the Latvian national team. He later coached Latvia at the 2010 Olympics, where it lost all four of its games with the worst goal differential in group play.
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President Barack Obama stood in front of the most impressive backdrop he said he’d ever seen for a statement to the press and went on to laud one of the most impressive performances in Olympic history on Monday.
“I’d be remiss if I did not mention that I’m proud of both of our teams at the Olympics,” Obama said at The Rijksmuseum for art and history in Amsterdam (transcript here). “So in addition to painting, you really know how to speed skate.”
Obama was standing in front of Rembrandt‘s 17th-century masterpiece “The Night Watch.”
In Sochi, Dutch speed skaters won 23 of a possible 32 medals, or 71.9 percent, the greatest-ever percentage for one nation in one sport that had at least eight medal events at a single Winter Olympics, according to OlympStats.com.
The entire U.S. Olympic Team won 28 medals in Sochi, nine fewer than Vancouver 2010 and three more than Torino 2006.
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The International Olympic Committee is opposed to a Russian who wants to trademark the Sochi Olympic Opening Ceremony symbol glitch of four Olympic rings and one snowflake.
Dmitry Medvedev (no relation to the prime minister) reportedly applied for trademark rights to the logo of four rings and one malfunctioning ring earlier this month.
The IOC “is aware of this matter and is opposed to the trademark application because of its similarity with the Olympic Symbol,” according to The Associated Press.
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