For 17 days, Russian Black-Sea resort of Sochi was abuzz with excitement with nearly 3000 participants from 88 countries converging there for XXII Winter Olympics. While the show ended with a glittering ceremony on February 23, 2014, memories of Sochi will remain etched forever. It was an extravagant last show in Fisht Stadium, which also hosted the opening ceremony. Polar beer, Hare and Leopard were mascots of Sochi games, with an apt slogan; Hot-Cool-Yours. 98 events in 15 winter-sports disciplines were held in two new venues. One was the Olympic Park at Imeretinsky Valley with Fisht stadium and indoor venues nearby and the other was the resort settlement of Krasnaya Polyana. A brief run-down of medal events with winners follows here;
Alpine Skiing: There were 5 medal events each for men and women in downhill, slalom, giant slalom, super giant and super-combined races. In two grand efforts, Austrian veteran Mario Matt won men’s slalom at age 34 and American Mikaela Shiffrin, became the youngest Olympic slalom champion at 18 years and 345 days. Austria dominated the event winning 9 medals, including 3 golds.
Biathlon: This discipline was a combination of cross-country skiing and rifle-shooting with 11 medals for 20 km men’s race, relay, sprint, pursuit, mass start and mixed relay event. The sensational Russian men’s relay team denied a historic 9th Olympic gold to Norwegian superstar Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, who had already won 13 medals in Sochi including 8 golds. He finished in a tie with compatriot cross-country skier, Bjoern Daehlie, who also won 8 golds. Norway and Belarus won 3 gold medals each.
Bobsleigh: This high-speed mountain sledge-descent on specially created artificial ice tracks had 3 golds for races in 2 and 4-men events and 2-women events. Russians won 2, with women’s gold going to Canada. America’s Lauryn Williams amazingly became one rare athlete in modern Olympics to record wins in both winter and summer Olympics. She finished second behind Canada in women’s bobsleigh. In summer Olympics, Williams had won gold in 4×100 relay at 2012 London games and individual silver in 100m in 2004 Sydney Olympics.
Cross-country skiing: There were 12 medals for men and women in different sprints. While Norway won 5 golds, Finland surprisingly won men’s team sprint, taking advantage of a fall by Germany at final descent.
Curling: In curling, men and women’s teams of four players each were required to deliver about 20 kg stone to the target area by members taking turns. Canadians recorded their third successive Olympic gold by winning both men’s and women’s events.
Figure-skating: This 5-medal discipline had singles, pairs and ice-dancing with mixed figure-skating. Russians were dominant as they won 3 golds with the other two being shared by US and Japan.
Freestyle skiing: There were 10 gold medals in ski-cross and moguls, ski-halfpipe and men and women’s ski-slopestyle. Canada and US dominated the events by claiming 4 and 3 golds, respectively.
Ice-Hockey: Two gold medals in men’s and women’s category were both taken by Canada. Sweden won men’s silver and US took women’s.
Luge: 4 medals in singles, doubles and mixed relay featured in this most dangerous winter sport. Athletes began the race in sitting positions on sled and after pushing off; lay down on their backs with feet spread in front. German men and women swept the event winning all 4 golds.
Nordic combined: These men’s events in ski-jumping and 10km cross-country race had 3 medals for individual normal-hill, individual large-hill and team event with two jumps from large hill for each team member and a 4×5 km relay. Norway won gold medals in large-hill and team competitions, while Germany won in normal-hill category.
Short-track: This discipline featured 8 golds in individual and relay for men and women over distances of 500m, 1000m and 1500m with 3000m relay for women and 5000m for men. Russia took 3 golds, China and Korea got 2 and Canada got 1. Russian skater Victor Ahn featured in all three victories at Sochi. Representing Korea in 2006 Turin Olympics, Ahn had won 3 golds but in 2011, he embraced Russian citizenship.
Skeleton: In skeleton, athletes descended on tracks of artificially frozen ice in the competition lasting two days. Each athlete had to complete four runs and those clocking least overall times were winners. Russia’s Alexander Tretiakov won men’s gold, while Britain’s Elizabeth Yarnold took women’s gold.
Ski Jumping: This discipline featured individual and team events in large and normal-hill ski jumping. Women’s normal-hill was added at Sochi. In team competition, Austria’s dominance of the last eight successive Olympics was ended by Germany and another German Carina Vogt won gold in women’s category to give her nation 2 golds. Poland won the other two golds.
Snowboarding: This discipline had giant slalom, halfpipe, slopestyle and parallel special slalom. Of 10 medals, USA won 3 golds in men and women’s slopestyle and women’s halfpipe events; while Russia’s Vic Wild won 2 golds in men’s parallel slalom and parallel giant slalom events. Switzerland also won 2 golds, while Austria, France and Czech Republic each won 1 gold.
Speed skating: These were men and women’s races, over distances of 500m, 1000m, 1500m and 5000m with additional events for men over 10000m and women over 3000m had 12 medal-events. The Dutch scored a sweeping victory with 23 medals, including 8 golds. Remaining 4 golds went to Korea, China, Czech Republic and Poland.
Russians emerged on top with 33 medals with 13 golds. They had won only 3 gold medals at Vancouver in 2010. Korean city of PyeongChang will host the XXIII games in 2018 and to symbolize, the Koreans came to Sochi with 71 athletes. They competed in every sport except Ice Hockey and won 3 golds. Mayor of Sochi Anatoly Pakhomov presented the Olympic Flag to Lee Seok-rae, Mayor of PyeongChang. The flag will remain in Korea for the next four years.
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