If you can believe it, Russia still hasn’t gotten over its sixth place finish in the medal count (eleventh, if you’re counting golds).
Yesterday, President Dmitry Medvedev held an award ceremony at the Kremlin for the Russian Olympians that brought home bacon, and rewarded them with some more bacon, of the automotive variety. Gold medalists got gold-colored Audi Q7s; silver got you a silvery Q5; a bronze medal could be exchanged for — you guessed it — a bronze A4 Allroad Quattro.
But it was a dour meeting. Unlike in years past, there was no reception. Officials from the athletic ministry were pointedly not invited, nor were the non-bacon-bearing Olympians. And those who were invited were explicitly instructed not to wear the distinctive Russian Olympic costume designed by Bosco di Ciliegi, the official outfitter of the Russian Olympic team turned official scapegoat for their loss. “The team colors cause a certain amount of irritation in the leadership at the current moment,” a government source told Gazeta.ru.
(The official reason for the displeasure, by the way, was that Bosco set up a posh little bar in Vancouver where anyone wearing the red-and-white was given free alcohol. “Just because they’re the sponsors, does that mean they have to get everyone so drunk they squeal like pigs?” a Russian parliamentarian complained.)
Evgeny Plushenko, meanwhile, continued to bemoan the cruel fate and stupid judges that handed him a silver instead of gold. (Residents of St. Petersburg have been trying to correct it by gathering their spare gold to make a new medal — which, at 516 grams, would have more gold than the Vancouver model — for Plushenko, who serves in the local parliament.)
At the ceremony, Plushenko approached Medvedev and began to complain about how none of the money allotted for training figure skaters makes it through, that he pays for all his training and costumes and sparkly gloves himself, that figure skaters “are treated like floor rags,” and that the money now slated for his training — around $30,000 per year — was an insultingly unrealistic figure.
“I know that a huge amount of money is budgeted for this, but what happens to it is unclear,” Plushenko said to the President. “Dmitry Antaloyevich” — reverently using the boss’s patronymic — “please, bring this under control, because a lot of us want to perform. And I want to perform in Sochi in 2014. This is insane.”
Then, because a speedskater and volleyball player once had their Olympic automotive bacon heisted, Plushenko wasted no time and traded in his Audi Q5 for something less flashy the very same day.