The Sochi Network

Sporting triumphs and tribulations in Sochi

Questions about Sochi's suitability to host the Winter Olympics will not go away once the flame has been extinguished but in the expensively-built stadiums and snow resorts the athletes put on a dazzling show.

Whether skiing, sliding, jumping or somersaulting, their performances ensured a captivating couple of weeks in the Caucasus and for TV viewers around the world.

Here are a selection of highlights.

BRITAIN WINS FIRST EVER OLYMPIC MEDAL ON SNOW

Jenny Jones, 33, won a bronze medal in the women's snowboard slopestyle event to end a 90-year wait for her country's first Winter Olympics medal in a snow sport.

Even more remarkably, Jones was the oldest snowboarder in the slopestyle, the usual preserve of cool young dudes.

The previous 22 British medal winners had all competed on the ice, in sports such as figure skating and skeleton.

NO SHAUN, BUT SUNSHINE, STYLE AND SMILES

After weeks of negativity about security and costs, the Games made a flying start as American snowboarder Sage Kotsenburg won the the first ever Olympic slopestyle gold.

Shaun White's withdrawal over safety fears was forgotten as, with the sun shining and not a cloud in the sky, Kotsenburg produced a spectacular run down the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park obstacle course to whoops and hollers from the large crowd revelling in the eye-catching new discipline.

RUSSIA GETS A NEW ICE DARLING...THEN ANOTHER

With President Vladimir Putin watching on in the Iceberg Stadium, pint-sized Russian teenager Julia Lipnitskaya melted hearts with a breathtaking performance as the hosts won the figure skating team event gold.

It was an ice-breaking moment which reverberated around a sceptical world and filled Russians with pride.

Lipnitskaya failed to shine in the individual final, but team mate Adelina Sotnikova stepped forward to win gold instead.

THE FIRST WOMAN TO FLY

Teenage American ski jumper Sarah Hendrickson soared through the air to become the first woman to perform a competitive jump in the Olympic Games, going on to finish 21st.

Germany's Carina Vogt flew 104.5 metres to win the milestone event, the culmination of a 13-year fight by female athletes to be allowed to take part.

THE FIRST TIE FOR GOLD IN ALPINE SKIING

After a muscle-burning descent down Rosa Khutor's 2,713 metre Olympic women's downhill run Slovenia's Tina Maze and Swiss Dominique Gisin could not be seperated, both clocking one minute 41.57 seconds to share the top of the podium.

There were gasps from a stunned crowd as the scoreboard flashed up identical times, the first occasion an Olympic skiing race had seen joint winners.

LUCKY 13 FOR NORWEGIAN GREAT BJOERNDALEN

Ole Einar Bjoerndalen earned a record 13th Winter Games medal as he helped Norway to the biathlon team mixed relay title.

The 40-year-old edged ahead of former cross-country skier Bjorn Daehlie and moved alongside his compatriot as the leading all-time Winter Olympics gold medallist with eight.

COLOGNA SHOWS OLYMPICS SPIRIT IS ALIVE AND WELL

Switzerland's Dario Cologna proved there is time for losers as he waited nearly half an hour after winning gold in the men's 15km cross-country to congratulate Peru's Roberto Carcelen who finished last, 27.59 minutes behind.

Carcelen, 43, crossed the line with the Peruvian flag in his hand and applause ringing in his ears.

DANGER LURKS FOR OLYMPIC DAREDEVILS

Four years after the death of a Georgian luger in Vancouver, the risks Winter Olympians take were again highlighted as Russian ski cross athlete Maria Komissarova broke her back during a training run for the extreme sport.

She was rushed to hospital for a six-hour operation and then moved to a clinic in Munich.

At the end of the women's ski half pipe event later in the Games, course workers came down the pipe in the shape of a heart in memory of Canadian freestyler Sarah Burke who died in an accident two years ago.

"MIRACLE ON ICE" REMATCH PRODUCES REMARKABLE FINALE

American sports fans voted their team's upset win over Russia's "big red machine" in the 1980 Olympics as the most memorable match of the century so there was an understandable buzz about the rematch in Sochi, albeit with a totally different political and sporting backdrop and nothing vital at stake.

The Sochi preliminary match took place in an electric atmosphere, with President Putin watching, and will be remembered for the remarkable shootout that decided it.

Level 2-2 after overtime, the shootout ran to eight attempts each before T.J. Oshie settled it for the Americans with his fourth goal from six personal shootout attempts.

GOLDEN HOUR FOR AHN

Viktor Ahn, an adopted Russian after switching allegiance from South Korea, won two gold medals in an hour at the Iceberg.

He confirmed himself amongst the Olympic greats with victory in the 500 metres individual and 45 minutes later returned to help Russia win the 5,000m relay.

JAPANESE VETERAN KASAI JUMPS TO SILVER

Japan's 41-year-old Noriaki Kasai, flying against athletes not even born when he started competing in ski jumping, produced two monster leaps to snatch a silver medal in the men's long hill at the RusSki Gorki Jumping Centre.

Kasai had appeared at every Winter Games since Albertville in 1992 and finally won an individual medal.

With only one man left to fly he was in first place, only for Poland's Kamil Stoch to move ahead by the narrowest margin.

CONTROVERSY AND CONSPIRACY ON ICE

Figure skating often conjures sub-plots, finger-pointing and general bitchiness and these Games proved no different.

First Russia's glamour boy Yevgeny Plushenko pulled out of the men's competition, having been controversially selected.

Then Russian teenager Adelina Sotnikova won the women's individual title amidst accusations from South Korea of biased judges after their Vancouver winner Kim Yuna was beaten into second.

Reuters