After more than two weeks of competition at the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, the host nation emerged as the undisputed champion of the medal tally with 33 total medals, including 13 of the gold variety.
The United States finished in second place with 28 total medals, though Norway (26) and Canada (25) finished with more gold medals than Team USA. The Netherlands finished in fifth place with 24 total medals—23 of which came in speedskating events.
From beginning to end, these Games belonged to Russia, which dominated with four medals—including two golds and a podium sweep in the men's 50-kilometer cross-country race—on the final day of competition to close out the Games on a strong note.
"You probably didn't believe that Russia could win the medals table, just like Canada did in Vancouver," said Alexander Legkov, who won the 50-kilometer cross-country race, as noted by the Associated Press (via the Boston Herald). "I believed it could happen. Now it happened and that's great."
Heading into the Games, it was the United States that was expected to finish atop the standings.
The Americans finished with 37 total medals to lead the pack in Vancouver four years prior. Expectations were high for an even better finish to the 2014 Games with a record-breaking contingency of athletes being sent to Sochi, as ESPN.com's Jim Caple points out.
Speedskating was supposed to be a big winner for this team, per Caple, who wonders what went wrong after Team USA struck out with zero podium finishes:
Was it the Under Armour skinsuits that were supposed to significantly lower times? The decision to hold the team's pre-Olympics training at altitude rather than on slower ice at sea level? Bad tapering? Dysfunction inside U.S. speedskating? All those might be contributing factors, but even together they don't adequately explain how athletes who won so many races on the World Cup circuit could all suddenly fail so badly here.
Hockey was another huge disappointment that contributed to America's post-Olympics funk.
The men's team was supposed to challenge Canada for the gold and looked the part through the quarterfinals. However, the team was shut out in its final two contests to the tune of 6-0 and failed to medal.
Not surprisingly, Norway dominated cross-country, biathlon and Nordic combined events, winning 21 of its 26 total medals in those disciplines.
Every four years, this Scandinavian nation puts on a clinic in these events. This year's effort led to a third-place finish in the overall count and the second-most golds of any nation in Sochi.
Canada set a new standard for excellence on the ice, as Olympian Meagan Duhamel alluded to, winning gold in men's and women's hockey as well as men's and women's curling:
With 25 total medals and 10 golds, the Canadians acquitted themselves well in Sochi while ripping the hearts out of American hockey fans everywhere.
The Netherlands would be hopelessly lost without speedskating.
With 23 total medals in the discipline, Dutch skaters put all others to shame for the most part in Sochi, sweeping a couple of events and putting at least one athlete on the podium in most races.
It will be interesting to see if the strong Russian team will be able to carry the momentum it built up at home this year through to the 2018 Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Russia finished the 2010 Games in 11th place, which is why many wondered if the host would be strong at home this time around.
Team USA certainly needs to regroup and retool for a stronger push four years from now. Many of the top athletes—especially in the alpine skiing and snowboarding disciplines—could be retired from Olympic competition by that time, meaning youth will be served.
Four years seems like a lifetime away, but you can be sure every nation is already looking ahead to see what it can do to improve its performance the next time the world gathers for this prestigious international competition.
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