Five-Ring Circus

Deep Thoughts With Russia’s Hockey Coach: “I Won’t Exist Any More, Since You Will Have Eaten Me”

Russian coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov’s very existence is in question.

Photo by Radek Mica/AFP/Getty Images

Russia’s dreams of a gold on home ice came to an end today when the host country lost to the perennially overlooked Finnish team. The Russian media is handling the doomsday scenario about how you would expect. Among the questions lobbed at Russian coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov following the quarterfinal loss: “Is this a catastrophe?” “What do you have to say to the fans?” And my personal favorite, “In what way, exactly, do you see yourself at fault for what happened?”

The Q&A session that best sums things up for Bilyaletdinov, who as a member of the 1980 USSR team has his fair share of experience dealing with tough losses on the international stage, was this one: (via the Wall Street Journal)

Q: What future, if any, do you see for your own work and for your coaching staff? Because, you know, your predecessor was eaten alive after the Olympics—

A: Well then, eat me alive right now—

Q: No, I mean—

A: Eat me, and I won’t be here anymore.

Q: But we have the world championship coming up!

A: Well then, there will be a different coach because I won’t exist any more, since you will have eaten me.

Q: But you’re staying, aren’t you?

A: Yes, I will remain living.

As of Wednesday evening, Bilyaletdinov is correct: The Russian coach has not yet been eaten.

Elsewhere in Slate: Yes, Russia’s Olympic Hockey Loss Was Crushing, But It Was No Embarrassment

Read the rest of Slate’s coverage of the Sochi Olympics.