And just like that, the 2014 Winter Olympics are over.
With the closing ceremony complete, we have the final standings from Sochi and know which countries have bragging rights when it comes to the sports of snow and ice.
Before we dive into the reactions from the final day in Sochi, here’s a look at the final medal count:
The Russian team made the home crowd proud, and here’s what the Twitterverse had to say about the action and memories from the last day in Sochi.
There were three events on Day 16, starting with the men’s 50-kilometer mass start free. The Russians owned the podium in this event—one of the most grueling competitions in the Games as noted by Eric Reguly of The Globe and Mail:
Here are the happy teammates sharing the moment together, courtesy of NBC Olympics:
Next up on the schedule was the four-man bobsled, which again saw the Russians claim gold to add to their impressive 2014 medal total.
Latvia brought home the silver, while the U.S. team narrowly edged out the second Russian team to claim bronze. One of the American team members, Christopher Fogt, earned his first Olympic medal—a truly special moment considering that he was serving his country in the armed forces just two years ago:
The climax of the Games was the men’s gold-medal hockey match—something the host nation desperately wanted to compete in. Instead, it was a matchup between Canada, the reigning gold medalists, and Sweden.
The Canadians outscored the Swedes 3-0 and capped off a dominant Sochi Games with another gold medal to take back on the plane:
ESPN Stats & Info showed us how special the Canadian performance was:
Furthermore, the hockey gold medal helped Canada accomplish a feat that had never been done before:
Earlier in the tournament, it looked like the Americans were a strong contender to win the gold, but they missed out on the gold-medal match and even came up short against Finland for the bronze, erasing their hopes of any medal at all. As Steve Wilson of the Associated Press reports, the loss ended up having large ramifications on the standings:
The U.S. was Russia’s closest challenger in the overall medal count, but nobody could stop the host nation from winning the Games on its home soil (or ice).
That dominance overshadowed the record-breaking parity we witnessed earlier in the tournament—unfortunately that diversity of medal winners failed to grow over the second half of the Olympics, according to Nick Zaccardi of NBC Sports:
While the usual suspects (Russia, Norway, USA and Canada) finished the Olympics at the top of the standings, Germany had a surprisingly disappointing stay in Sochi:
At the end of the day, however, the Olympic spirit is about much more than the results. It’s a celebration of competition and is one of the most unforgettable experiences for everybody involved. While the athletes are excited at the prospect of returning home, it’s always sad to leave an event like this—an emotional reaction perfectly captured by a Canadian curler:
The closing ceremony was a scintillating spectacle and a fitting close to the Games:
Now, we have to wait four years until we pick up where we left off—this time in South Korea. The 2018 Winter Olympics will be held in Pyeongchang.
Four years will be too long to wait for some of the older athletes who wave farewell to the Olympics in Sochi, but Pyeongchang looks poised to be the arrival of some of the winter sports' youngest stars. Athletes like Gracie Gold and Julia Lipnitskaia will do battle for the crown of the figure skating queen, and plenty of other stars will make their debuts in Korea.
Additionally, the hockey tournament may look very different depending on whether or not NHL players are in attendance.
The powerhouses are once again the favorites—Russia, USA and Canada—but Germany's down year combined with the emergence of nations like the Netherlands are signs that we could be in for more surprises.