Canada beat Sweden 3-0 at the Sochi Winter Games to become the first nation to retain the Olympic men’s ice hockey title in 22 years as the Russians got four medals on the final day to finish atop the standings.
Goals from Jonathan Toews, Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz spread over the three periods gave Canada a sweep of the hockey medals. The Canadian women beat the U.S. 3-2 in overtime Feb. 20 to capture the championship.
Canada, which won its record ninth Olympic title, is the first nation to retain its gold medal since the Soviet Union won three straight in 1984, 1988 and 1992. In the last of those Olympics, it was playing as the Unified Team.
“We played solid and we didn’t give anything up in the last few games - we played the way we needed to and it’s great to see everyone get rewarded,” Crosby, the Canadian captain, told reporters after last night’s game. “We’re really proud and we appreciate all the support. We know that there’s high expectations coming in and we’re glad that we could deliver.”
Yesterday, Russia swept the top three spots in the 50-kilometer men’s cross-country race and won the men’s four-man bobsled to extend its lead in the Olympic medals standings. The hosts finished with 33 medals, including 13 golds. The U.S. is second with 28, two ahead of Norway. Canada was fourth with 25, while the Netherlands had 24.
“The country believed in us,” Russian bobsled pilot Alexander Zubkov told reporters. “But nobody believed that Russia would even be in the top three in total medals but we have won.”
Last night, the country celebrated its success at a closing ceremony that featured medal awards to the men’s and women’s cross-country skiing winners.
While the crowd showed appreciation for the Norwegian women who swept their event, the longest and loudest cheering was saved for the three Russian men who finished first, second, and third in their event.
The ceremony featured dancing, indoor fireworks and a reference to a malfunctioning snowflake that failed to turn into one of the Olympic rings in the opening ceremony, leaving four rings and an apparent asterisk.
Last night, the 700 dancers dressed in sparkling outfits delayed making the fifth and final ring during the first number as the crowd reacted with laughs.
Dmitry Chernyshenko, the head of the organizing committee, said the country had proven that it could successful hold a world-class event.
“It is the great moment in our history, a moment to cherish and pass on to future generations,” he said at the closing ceremony. “This is the new face of Russia, our Russia.”
Alexander Legkov was one of the Russian medalists honored during the event. He took the victory in the cross-country race by 0.7 seconds over Maxim Vylegzhanin, who held off a surge from teammate Ilia Chernousov to win the silver medal.
It was the first time in 78 years that one country took all the medals in the event. Norway’s Martin Johnsrud Sundby was near the front at the end of the race, but finished 0.2 seconds behind Chernousov.
“This is priceless,” Legkov told reporters. “It’s more valuable than my life. For 15 years I’ve been trying for this result.”
Switzerland’s Dario Cologna, a two-time gold medalist, broke a ski while in fourth place with about 2 kilometers to go and couldn’t continue. Sweden, in 1936, was the last country to take all the medals in the cross-country skiing.
“It’s not so often in one race you get three Russians on the podium,” Chernousov told reporters. “The last day in our home games and three on the podium.”
In the men’s four-man bobsled, Zubkov led the Russians to the fastest times in two of the four heats, and held on to win by 0.09 seconds over the Latvian squad. The Americans took bronze, edging another Russian sled by 0.03 seconds.
It was Zubkov’s second gold medal of the Sochi Games after the 39-year-old won the two-man event.