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 Genome Initiative Urgently Works to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Smithsonian senior research botanist Vicki Funk says ultimate goal is 'trying to get one-half of the diversity of plant life on Earth at the genus level in two years' More

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

Report from member of British think tank says Russian extradition requests keep targets from traveling More

US Lawmakers Weigh Turkish Anti-terror Moves

Turkey’s two-pronged campaign against Islamic State militants, Kurdish PKK forces provokes mixed reactions on Capitol Hill More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponentsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
July 28, 2015 9:53 PM
A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video Special Olympics Athletes Meet International Friends

The Special Olympics are underway in Los Angeles, California, with athletes from 165 countries participating in an event that gives people with intellectual disabilities the chance to take part in an international competition. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that for athletes and their families, it's also an opportunity to make new friends in an international setting.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs