With zero events left on the schedule, we finally know the “winner” of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. That winner was undoubtedly the host nation, Russia, who won the most medals—both overall and those of the gold variety. But how did every other nation stack up?
Here’s a look at the final standings from Sochi, followed by a brief recap of some of the biggest nations and storylines from the 2014 Winter Olympics:
It took a while for the host nation to get on the board, but when it rains it pours—gold, that is. Nick Zaccardi of NBC Sports broke down Russia’s success in historic terms:
Russia is the first Winter Olympic host to sweep overall and gold medal tables since Norway in 1952, the last time RUS/USSR didn't compete.— Nick Zaccardi (@nzaccardi) February 23, 2014
The crown jewel of Russia’s Olympic achievements was in the figure skating. The Russian contingent won the first-ever team portion of the event by a convincing margin, thanks to the awe-inspiring brilliance of 15-year-old Julia Lipnitskaia. But then it was surprising star Adelina Sotnikova who came out of nowhere to win the individual gold medal.
Russia was not immune to disappointment, as the performance of the men’s hockey team left a lot to be desired. The Russians failed to even make the bronze-medal match in one of the Games’ most highly anticipated events.
The team itself was bitterly disappointed, as evidenced by captain Pavel Datsyuk’s comments to James Masters of CNN after their loss to Finland knocked them out of the tournament:
I cannot explain my feelings. Inside I am absolutely empty. The emotion we feel right now is disappointment, disappointment that we didn't live up to the hopes placed on us. There were great hopes placed on us and we didn't live up to them.
One of the most memorable images of the Olympics was a picture of despair after hockey elimination:
All in all, however, it was a tremendous two weeks for the Russian Olympic team, and they put on a show for their home crowd.
Team USA finished second in the total medal standings, but Sochi was mostly a story of disappointments and missed opportunities.
It started with the biggest name of the Games—Shaun White. White came in expected to win gold in his signature event, the halfpipe, as well as a new Olympic event, the slopestyle. In reality, he pulled out of the slopestyle and then didn't even medal in the halfpipe.
It wasn't just White either.
Shani Davis—and the entire speedskating team—flopped when the lights were brightest, prompting Davis to even question his future in the sport, according to Gary Mihoces of USA TODAY:
This is something that's going to stick with me for a long time. I'm a pretty resilient guy, been through a lot of stuff. This is going to be a tough to finally get over. But with time, with some rest … my body will be almost recovered and my spirit will start getting stronger. We'll see if I want to continue on this path of speed skating.
Lastly, the ice hockey teams—both men and women—looked poised for a gold-medal run early in the tournament but fell short of that goal in the knockout stage of the tournament, with the women claiming silver and the men failing to medal.
Ultimately, this is just nit-picking—although the Americans will be disappointed. Their 28 total medals is the largest haul in an Olympics held outside of North America.
Germany are generally a powerhouse of the Winter Olympics, but 2014 wasn't their year:
GER had finished 1st or 2nd in overall medals at every OWG since the fall of the Berlin Wall. It will finish sixth here.— Nick Zaccardi (@nzaccardi) February 23, 2014
The Germans looked ready to continue that trend early in the Games due to the splendid performance of their lugers—winning four gold medals. But it was all downhill from there.
Not only was the medal haul disappointing, but there were other more concerning storylines, like the positive banned substance test of biathlete Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle.
The underwhelming 2014 Games prompted German Olympic Sports Confederation director Bernhard Schwank to promise change. According to the Deutsche Welle, he said, "We need to apply new methods of training and new coaching staff, and enhance the cooperation between the national sports union and international federations."
Whether Germany can bounce back in PyeongChang—the site of the 2018 Winter Olympics—remains to be seen, but nobody in the German camp seems to be happy about their display in Sochi.
As these three nations—and every other country—starts the long process of preparing for the 2018 Games, there is plenty of room for improvement as well as a number of young athletes ready to blossom into stars.
What storylines will emerge about the Games in PyeongChang? Who will be the big winner of the next installment of the Winter Olympics? There’s plenty to look forward to in 2018, and maybe we’ll see even more changes near the top of the leaderboard.