News / Europe

Host Russia Tops Olympics Medals Table in Sochi

Russia's Alexander Legkov and Ilia Chernousov (L) race to the finish line to take first and third place in the men's cross-country 50 km mass start free event at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games, Feb. 23, 2014.
Russia's Alexander Legkov and Ilia Chernousov (L) race to the finish line to take first and third place in the men's cross-country 50 km mass start free event at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games, Feb. 23, 2014.
Parke Brewer
The 22nd Olympic Winter Games have ended.  Here are some highlights of the two plus weeks of action.  
 
Only three gold medals were awarded on the final day and two of them went to host Russia.  The Russians swept the medals in Sunday's first event, the men's 50-kilometer cross-country ski race.  Alexander Legkov won it with a time of 1:46.55.2
 
That was 0.7 of a second faster than teammate Maxim Vylegzhanin (1:46.55.9) and 0.8 better than bronze medalist Ilia Chernousov (1:46.56.0).  
 
Russia won its first-ever gold medal in the four-man bobsled, as driver Alexander Zubkov made it a clean sweep, after earlier in the games winning the two-man event. Latvia won silver, its first-ever Olympic medal in the sport, and the defending champion, the United States, took bronze.
 
Russia unexpectedly ended up on top of the medals table, with 13 gold, 11 silver and nine bronze for a total of 33.  At the 2010 Vancouver Olympics the Russians were back in 11th place with three gold, and sixth in total medals won with 15.
 
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach of Germany talks to Russian President Vladimir Putin during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Feb. 7, 2014.International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach of Germany talks to Russian President Vladimir Putin during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Feb. 7, 2014.
x
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach of Germany talks to Russian President Vladimir Putin during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Feb. 7, 2014.
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach of Germany talks to Russian President Vladimir Putin during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Feb. 7, 2014.
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said he was pleased to see the Russians do so well before enthusiastic fans.
 
"It is not just enough to organize the Games, but you also need a good home team.  So they were working hard after the shock they had in Vancouver ," Bach said.  "And I think it is just remarkable the progress that has been made within four years from Vancouver until today, so can we only congratulate the Russian team for this great success."
 
Also at his closing news conference, Bach said the response from all the participants - athletes, National Olympic Committees, international sports federations, sponsors and broadcasters - has been overwhelmingly positive.
 
He added that in speaking to many athletes, after spending four nights in different Olympic villages, he did not hear one complaint.
 
"They loved the sports facilities, the quality of the Olympic villages," Bach said.  "What impressed (them) the most was the proximity of the Olympic villages and their venues."
 
Second to Russia in the gold medal count was Norway with 11.  Canada was third with 10, one more than the United States, by successfully defending its men's ice hockey title with a 3-0 win over Sweden.  That was the final sporting event of the Games.
 
The United States was second behind Russia in total medals with 28, while Norway had 26 and Canada 25.
 
In all, 26 nations won medals at the Sochi Olympics, the same number as in Vancouver.
 
Bach said that even though so much attention has been given to the huge cost to stage these Olympics, estimated at $50 billion, Sochi's operational costs were about the same as Vancouver.
 
He emphasized that the investment in the region for infrastructure will be here a long time - new roads, railroads, housing, sports venues, winter training facilities and more.  Sochi will host a Formula One auto race and 2018 World Cup football games.
 
"This project was not limited to just building a winter sports center," Bach said.  "It was about the transformation of a whole region into a modern destination for tourists, for conventions and for sports.  And it was amazing what happened here."
 
Five athletes tested positive for banned substances during the Sochi Games, including Austrian cross-country skier Johannes Duerr on the final day.  His expulsion for the red blood cell booster EPO prevented him from competing in Sunday's 50-kilometer race.

The other four testing positive were a Ukrainian cross-country skier (Marina Lisogor), a German biathlete (Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle), a Latvian ice hockey player (Vitalijs Pavlovs) and an Italian bobsledder (William Frullani).  Those four other cases involved minor stimulants that can be found in food supplements.  None of the five had won medals.

As for the United States, a number a favorites like two-time Olympic snowboard halfpipe champion Shaun White failed to make the podium, while other underdogs came through.  Alan Ashley is the chief of sport performance for the USOC.

"There is always at the Olympics times when you are like going, 'Oh my gosh, I wish so and so had done better,' but just as many times there is like a whole new generation of athletes or a new group of athletes that surprise you, and that is the beauty of the Games," Ashley said.

But the U.S. figure skating team had its worst Olympics showing since 1936 with no medals in men's, women's or pairs, and the long track speed skating team had its worst Olympics ever.   

"Our job now is to say, OK, what went wrong, what went right?," said Ashley. "How do we improve so that the next generation, when we go into Pyeongchang (in 2018) that we have corrected some things and moved this forward so that that group of athletes and that group of skaters that goes with us to the next Olympic Games has an even better opportunity to perform?"  

The United States did come through with one notable performance in figure skating, as Meryl Davis and Charlie White won the first-ever Olympic gold medal for their country in ice dancing.

You May Like

Video Video Claims to Show Shi'ite Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

While not yet independently confirmed, brutal killing already has gotten attention of Islamic State followers on social media More

After Six Years, Little Change for Niger Delta's Former Militants

Nigerians who laid down arms in exchange for government amnesty subsidies fear program may end with upcoming presidential elections More

Vietnam Pushes for More Educated Drivers to Curb Road Deaths

Transportation officials hope that making a greater effort to get drivers to learn the rules of the road will reduce fatal crashes More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planeti
X
George Putic
March 04, 2015 8:51 PM
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More