The 2014 Winter Olympics have reached their conclusion at the end of a thrilling fortnight filled with tight contests and unexpected winners. The host nation Russia used a late surge to propel themselves to the top of the medal table, in both the overall and gold count.
Below are the final medal results:
Sunday was the lightest day of action, with just three medal events ahead of the closing ceremonies. Here is your one-stop shop for full highlights and analysis from the final day of action in Sochi.
|Canada vs. Sweden||CAN, 3-0|
The men's ice hockey gold-medal game is one of the crowning jewels of each Winter Olympics. And for the second straight Olympics, Canada took home gold with a dominating 3-0 victory over Sweden.
It was a ruthlessly efficient display from the Canadian team, which scored one goal in each period while riding an eight-period shutout streak from goalie Carey Price. The favorites allowed just three goals the whole tournament, en route to one of the most dominating Olympic hockey performances of the past 30 years:
Canada: 1st men's hockey team to go unbeaten through Olympic tournament since Soviet Union in 1984— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 23, 2014
Indeed, the Canadians are the first to repeat as gold medalists since those legendary Soviet teams of the 1980s. With a plethora of stars still in or approaching their prime, they will likely be the favorites at the 2018 event, assuming the NHL still allows its players to compete.
The game's biggest controversy actually arose from a player who did not even play. Swedish center Nicklas Backstrom tested positive for a failed drug test, one that stemmed from his allergy medication:
NHL's Bill Daly on Nicklas Backstrom’s drug test in Olympics: 1. It’s allergy medication. 2. It’s not on NHL banned list.— Liz Mullen (@SBJLizMullen) February 23, 2014
Nicklas Backstrom has been taking one allergy pill a day for several years, per Swedish team doctor. Including during 2010 Games.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) February 23, 2014
Swedish Olympic Committee spokesman Bjorn Folin confirmed the substance was an allergy medication, one that Backstrom has taken for seven years, per the Associated Press' Larry Lage (via Yahoo! Sports).
Regardless, it was a devastating blow for a Sweden team that has already suffered significant attrition, losing Henrik Zetterberg and Henrik Sedin before the tournament.
Backstrom likely would not have made a huge difference against a Canadian squad clicking on all cylinders, but his unexpected absence only detracted from the game and has to be a crushing blow to him personally.
Men's 4-Man Bobsled
|Gold||Dmitry Trunenkov, Alexander Zubkov, Alexey Voevoda, Alexey Negodaylo||3:40.60||RUS|
|Silver||Janis Strenga, Arvis Vilkaste, Oskars Melbardis, Daumants Dreishkens||3:40.69||LAT|
|Bronze||Steven Holcomb, Steven Langton, Curt Tomasevicz, Chris Fogt||3:40.99||USA|
After failing to medal in any event on the penultimate day, the American four-man team of Steve Holcomb, Steven Langton, Curt Tomasevicz and Chris Fogt scratched out a bronze medal with a time of 3 minutes, 40.99 seconds, the 28th and final for their country.
Holcomb and Langton captured bronze in the two-man event, a big step forward in a sport where the Americans have not traditionally been strong. Holcomb is also the first American since Billy Fiske in 1928 and 1932 to win consecutive four-man medals. As USBSF CEO Darrin Steele notes, via Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today, Sochi was an encouraging sign for the state of American bobsledding:
It's just been a continuous evolution. There's no one thing. We're setting high expectations. It starts with recruiting athletes. You've got to have the right coaches. You've got to get them the resources and the tools to win. The formula has worked.
The visibility is good. Success breeds success. I'm all about the training. So when I go and talk to sponsors and the USOC, we look at where we are relative to where we've been and where we still need to go. What the medal haul does is it validates some of the chances we've taken and investments we've made.
However, the Americans were unable to catch the Russians, who put a bow on their triumphant Olympics with a gold in the event, as the quartet of Dmitry Trunenkov, Alexander Zubkov, Alexey Voevoda and Alexey Negodaylo held off a strong challenge from the Latvian team to win with a time of 3:40.60.
The 39-year-old Zubkov was Russia's flag bearer during the opening ceremonies, and with medals in the four-man and two-man races, he certainly fulfilled his country's expectations.
Men's Cross Country
The Russians' greatest triumph of the day came in the men's cross-country 50K freestyle, as the trio of Alexander Legkov, Maxim Vylegzhanin and Ilia Chernousov swept the podium to propel the hosts to a winning total of 33 medals.
After falling short of expectations with just two silver medals in previous cross-country events, the final flourish was a sweet ending for the Russians. The three finished just eight tenths of a second apart, with Chernousov holding off Norway's Martin Johnsrud Sundby by a mere two tenths of a second to win bronze.
The men were scheduled to receive their medals at the closing ceremony, a fitting way to end an Olympics where Russia not only thrived during the events, but also avoided the off-field catastrophe and distractions many thought could undermine the Sochi celebration.