The Sochi Network

Sochi Summary Day 16: So was it a good Winter Olympics?

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Was it a good Winter Olympics?

Yes - is the general consensus.

Before the Games, Russia came in for criticism over the country's human rights record and an anti-gay propaganda law but politics gave way to top quality sport, facilities and a feel good factor only blighted by the odd doping case and a few injuries.

Despite a shaky start with reports of unfinished hotels, discoloured water and roaming stray dogs, the $50 billion Sochi Olympics delivered on facilities. The Bolshoy Ice Dome displayed the score of ice hockey games using video screens on its roof, the biathlon stadium was space age and Nordic Combined had their own separate facility for the first time.

Where there was criticism it was due to temperatures that peaked at 16 degrees. The half pipe was too soft and came in for criticism due to the rut-filled slushy tube.

The Games saw five doping cases, four more than at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, though does that just prove the testing system is working? Four of those were down to athlete negligence rather than a deliberate attempt to cheat.

On the eve of the Vancouver Olympics, Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili died during training and thankfully there were no fatalities. Although Russian freestyle skier Maria Komissarova was seriously injured and underwent more than six hours of spinal surgery after breaking her back in a crash during training.

Injuries are inherent in Winter Sports and a series of concussions and knee injuries in Ski Cross and Slopestyle is a cautionary tale for the IOC as they add more high risk events that resonate with a younger audience.

However Slopestyle's debut was a roaring success as one of 12 new events in Sochi. The figure skating team competition was another new competition and saw under-strength teams and judging controversies although nowhere near as debated as the widely considered 'home town' decision that saw Adelina Sotnikova dethrone Yuna Kim in the women's event.

The Games had more than 2800 athletes from 88 countries, both records and cross country skiers from Peru, slalom skiers from Timor Leste and a violinist from London, competing for Thailand, epitomised the Olympic spirit.

There were heroic performances as Ole Einar Bjoerndalen became the most decorated Winter Olympian in history, the Dutch mastered the Adler Arena in dominating the Speed Skating events and the hosts topped the medal table - helped by two non Russians called Vic who won five of their 13 golds.

"The friendly faces, the warm Sochi sun and the glare of the Olympic gold have broken the ice of scepticism towards the new Russia," said Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak.

We have to agree….next stop Pyeongchang

GOOD DAY

Russia - President Vladimir Putin and his fellow Russians dreamed of signing off with gold in Ice Hockey but their hopes were dashed by a quarter-final exit. However the hosts guaranteed they would match Canada four years ago and top the medals table on home soil when Alexander Legkov led a Russian 1-2-3 in the 50km Cross Country. It is the first time Russia have taken top place since 1994 in Lillehammer. Their final golden haul of 13 and their tally of 33 medals in total also means they top the medal table in the United States who recognise most medals rather than golds. That is quite a difference from Vancouver in 2010 where the US had 37 overall medals and Russia only had 15. Russia is the first Winter Olympic host to sweep overall and gold medal tables since Norway in 1952, the last time RUS/USSR didn't compete.

French Ski Cross - The three Frenchmen who swept the podium in the event will keep their medals after the Court of Arbitration for Sport dismissed a protest. The Canadian and Slovenian Olympic Committees had requested the disqualification of Jean Frederic Chapuis, Arnaud Bovolenta and Jonathan Midol, alleging they wore illegal suits giving them an aerodynamic advantage in the final. They had originally protested to the International Ski Federation but the sport's ruling body said it could not consider the complaint because it had not been made in time. The protest was based on the allegation that just before the final, French support staff changed the shaping of the lower leg suits of the riders.

Sidney Crosby - He was a superhero with a hockey stick wearing the Maple Leaf on his chest after he came to Canada's rescue four years ago at the Vancouver Winter Games by scoring the golden goal against the United States that crowned the hockey-mad nation Olympic champions. 'Sid the Kid' was at it again as he finally scored his first goal of the 2014 Olympics to ease Canuck nerves and give them a decisive 2-0 lead over Sweden in the final. The all-Canadian boy from tiny Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia Sidney finally cracked the goose egg on a breakaway as Canada gained a sweep of the ice hockey gold medals for a second consecutive Olympics. It was their first Olympic ice hockey gold medal outside North America in 62 years. This post on Instagram summed up what gold meant to Canada.

BAD DAY

Johannes Duerr - The Austrian cross-country skier apologised for the stupidity that saw him kicked out of the Games after testing positive for performance-boosting EPO. The 26-year-old, who had placed eighth in the skiathlon, became the fifth athlete to be ejected from the Games for a failed dope test. It was the first involving the blood-boosting drug and is the first serious doping offence reported during the Games. The four other cases involved minor stimulants that can be found in food supplements. The IOC is conducting a record 2500 doping tests at the Sochi Games.

Dario Cologna - The Swiss already had two gold medals and was looking for a third in the marathon of the Cross Country skiing programme, the 50km. He was the bookies' favourite, having claimed victory in the 30km skiathlon and the 15km classic. His bid to become the first Swiss athlete to win three golds in a single Winter Games was looking good as he was in fourth place inside the final 2km and within a second of the lead. But then disaster struck as after slogging across the tracks for an hour and three quarters he broke a ski and his medals chances were gone.

Christoph Langen - The head coach of German bobsleigh is under fire after his country finished without a medal for the first time since the 1964 Games, prompting talk of funding cuts. Germany had won four straight Olympic gold medals in four-man bobsled before the USA ended the streak in 2010 and hopes were high that they would reclaim the crown via Maximilian Arndt - the overall World Cup winner and world champion in four-man. However he slipped from third overnight to sixth and just one place higher than Thomas Florschuetz who had come second in the Olympic test last February. Francesco Friedrich is the youngest ever world champion in the two-man but was only eighth in that event - still Germany's highest finisher. The fifth place by Sandra Kiriasis, another dethroned Olympic champion, in the women's event was their best placing.

BRITS IN ACTION

In the four-man bobsleigh event, John Jackson piloted the Great Britain I crew of Joel Fearon, Bruce Tasker and Stuart Benson to fifth place. They climbed two places on the final day but finished 0.11 seconds out of the medals.

The second British sled of Lamin Deen, John Baines, Andrew Matthews and Ben Simons were placed 19th.

Andrew Musgrave became Britain's most successful Cross Country skier with a 27th place in the sprint and the Scot recorded a time under two hours for the 50km race in Sochi, making more history as he finished 53rd.

GOLD MEDALS AWARDED TODAY

Cross Country Skiing - Men's 50km: Alexander Legkov (Russia)
Bobsleigh - Four-man: Russia I (Alexander Zubkov, Alexey Negodaylo, Dmitry Trunenkov, Alexey Voevoda)
Ice Hockey - Men's: Canada

IMAGE OF THE DAY

What Olympic ice hockey gold means to Canadians

TWEET OF THE DAY