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

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

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