Canada wins hockey gold as Winter Olympics end
SOCHI, Russia (AP) — The Olympic flame was ready to be snuffed out. The Canadian hockey team, champions again, looked as if it could have gone long into the night if need be.
The Sochi Games completed their 17-day run Sunday with Canada’s 3-0 victory over Sweden in the men’s hockey final, the last of 98 gold medal events.
It came on a day when Russia captured the medals race and IOC President Thomas Bach lauded the host city for its “amazing” transformation.
Only three sports were on the schedule, with the other gold medals coming from Russian cross-country skier Alexander Legko, and Alexander Zubkov leading the way for the hosts in the four-man bobsled.
The fifth and sixth doping cases surfaced, involving NHL and Sweden star Nicklas Backstrom and Austrian cross-country skier Johannes Duerr.
All that awaited was the athletes’ last celebratory dance on the field at the closing ceremony and the flag handover to Pyeongchang, South Korea, the next winter host.
HOCKEY: The Canadians won gold for the third time in the last four Olympics. Jonathan Toews scored in the first period and captain Sidney Crosby scored his first goal of the tournament in the second. Chris Kunitz also scored and Carey Price made 24 saves for Canada. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 33 shots for the injury-depleted Swedes.
CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING: Alexander Legkov got down to work in a hurry. He led a Russian sweep of the men’s 50-kilometer cross-country race. He was followed by Maxim Vylegzhanin and Ilia Chernousov. That assured Russia of finishing with the most medals. It was also the host nation’s first gold in the sport in Sochi. “This is priceless,” Legkov said. “It’s more valuable than my life.”
BOBSLED: After struggling these last years, Alexander Zubkov set things right. He drove Russia to victory in the four-man sled, adding to his two-man title in Sochi. He is the sixth pilot to sweep those events at an Olympics but the first to do so in his home country. Steven Holcomb, the 2010 Olympic champ, won bronze to give the U.S. seven sliding medals in Sochi, tops among all countries.
Oskars Melbardis of Latvia took the silver. Germany had no medals in the four-man for the first time since 1968.
DOPING: Sochi had six doping cases; Vancouver had one four years ago. As IOC President Thomas Bach sees it, that’s good news — the drug cheats are getting caught. “The number of the cases for me is not really relevant,” he said. Nicklas Backstrom, who plays for the NHL’s Washington Capitals, tested positive for a substance found in allergy medication, Sweden’s Olympic Committee said. Austrian cross-country skier Johannes Duerr was cited for the blood booster EPO, the most serious of the Sochi cases.
MEDALS: The arithmetic was clear: Russia is king of the medals, be it total or gold. The host country finished with 33 medals overall and 13 gold. Russia started the day tied with Norway for the most gold. It’s the first time Russia has topped both medals tables since the breakup of the Soviet Union. The U.S. won 28 total, including nine gold. Norway had 26 medals, 11 of them gold. Of the Netherlands’ 24 medals, 23 came in speedskating.