From The Sports Network
As of 2:00 p.m. (et)
The closing ceremony of the Sochi Games brought a flashy and tuneful end Sunday night to the most expensive Olympics in history. Most important, perhaps, it went off without a hitch. Organizers poked a little fun at the now-infamous opening ceremony gaffe that saw only four out of five snowflakes open up into rings, leaving the Olympics logo one ring short. They opted for human rings this time, the last one opening several seconds after the first four on the floor of the stadium. The ceremony included a handoff from Sochi to Pyeongchang, South Korea, host of the 2018 Winter Games and featured a heavy dose of classical music and ballet like the opening ceremony, with a nod to Russian novelists and poets. Near the end, the cauldron that was lit 16 days earlier by Russian Olympic greats Vladislav Tretiak and Irina Rodnina was extinguished after one of the games' mascots, an animatronic bear, blew out a flame in the center of the stadium. Earlier, after a children's choir conducted by Valery Gergiev sung the Russian national anthem, flag bearers for each country entered the stadium together rather than country by country like in the opening ceremony. The athletes who stuck around for the festivities also came in together, as is customary for the closing ceremony. American ice hockey forward Julie Chu, who competed in her fourth Olympics, carried the U.S. flag and Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse, who won their second women's bobsled gold medal in a row, were co-flag bearers for Canada.
Before the ceremony, the host Russians secured the overall medal lead with 33, including 13 gold medals -- tied for second-most all-time behind the 14 Canada won at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. The United States finished second in the overall medal count with 28, Norway was third with 26 and Canada placed fourth with 25. Both Norway (11) and Canada (10) had more gold medals that the U.S. (nine).
Canada won its 10th gold medal on Sunday as Jonathan Toews, Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz scored goals to back another shutout effort from Carey Price in a 3-0 win over Sweden in the men's ice hockey final. Price, coming off a shutout of the United States in the semifinals on Friday, turned aside 24 Swedish shots to give Canada its ninth Olympic gold medal in men's hockey. It was also the third gold in the last four Olympics for the Canadians. Henrik Lundqvist was the only reason Sweden kept the game relatively close, stopping 33 shots in a sterling effort as the country fell short of its third gold medal. The game may have been the last for NHL players in Olympic competition. The league has not yet decided if it will again halt its season for the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang.
Russian cross country skier Alexander Legkov led a medal sweep for the host nation in the men's 50- kilometer mass start on Sunday, the final day of the Sochi Olympics. Norway's Martin Johnsrud Sundby had a chance to disrupt the Russian sweep, but Legkov, Maxim Vylegzhanin and Ilia Chernousov fed off each other and the home crowd to pull away down the stretch. Legkov crossed the finish line in 1 hour, 46 minutes and 55.2 seconds for his second medal in Sochi after serving as a member of Russia's silver medal winning 4x10-km relay team on Feb. 16. Vylegzhanin secured his third silver of the Sochi Games following a photo finish with Chernousov. The 31-year-old Vylegzhanin joined Legkov on the 4x10- km team and also won silver with Nikita Kriukov in the team sprint on Wednesday. Chernousov brought home bronze for his first Olympic medal.
Russia's four-man bobsled team remained atop the leaderboard following Sunday's third heat, while the United States slid into third heading into the final run at the Sochi Olympics. The Russian-1 sled finished Saturday's two runs with a total time of 1 minute, 50.19 seconds to give the Russians a slim .04-second lead heading into Sunday. Russia's top sled extended that margin slightly with a third run time of 55.02 seconds, just .13 seconds faster than Latvia, which remained in second with a total time of 2:45.38. The USA-1 sled piloted by Steven Holcomb, which entered the day .17 seconds behind Russia, crossed the finish line in 55.30 seconds to leave the U.S. facing a .45-second deficit for first with just one run remaining to determine the medal winners. Holcomb helped his four-man group win gold four years ago in the Vancouver Games and picked up his second Olympic medal on Monday, a bronze with Steven Langton in the two-man. To claim another medal in Sochi, Holcomb will have to hold off a second Russian sled that sat just .15 seconds behind the top American squad heading into the final run.
Swedish forward Nicklas Backstrom was scratched from the gold medal hockey game on Sunday after he became the sixth athlete at the Sochi Games to fail a doping test. Backstrom tested positive for a banned substance found in allergy medicine that he has taken for years and which his NHL team, the Washington Capitals, said had been cleared by the Swedish national team.
Earlier, the Austrian Olympic Committee confirmed that cross-country skier Johannes Duerr was kicked out of the Sochi Olympics after failing a doping test. After finishing eighth in the men's skiathlon on Feb. 9, Duerr flew back to Austria for training and tested positive for an EPO preparation on Feb 16. Duerr then returned to Sochi and was scheduled to participate in the 50- kilometer mass start on Sunday, but was withdrawn due to the positive test.
02/23 13:59:55 ET