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Continued: After early skepticism, Games evolved into a success

There already is a statue of Bjoerndalen in Modum, Norway, and he was congratulated after his final medal by the king of Norway. “There is no word to describe what he did,” said fellow biathlete Jean Guillaume Beatrix of France. “He’s a unique champion.”

Two for the ages

The U.S. came to Sochi hoping to win twin golds in men’s and women’s hockey. Neither team got the medal it wanted, but they created two of the signature moments of these Games.

The women lost to Canada 3-2 in overtime in the gold-medal game, earning their third Olympic silver. The two rivals always put on a good show, but Thursday’s tense, thrilling matchup demonstrated that the world’s best female players have reached new heights over the past four years.

The men’s preliminary-round game against Russia lived up to its billing. With seemingly all of Sochi glued to its TV sets — and millions of American fans doing the same, 6,000 miles away — a tooth-and-nail battle extended through overtime to a shootout. Warroad’s T.J. Oshie sealed a 3-2 victory with four goals in one of the great individual performances of the Sochi Games, earning instant stardom and a congratulatory tweet from President Obama.

Black marks

A new judging system instituted after a scandal at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games was supposed to end the back-door dealing and corruption that tainted figure skating. The Sochi Games brought new allegations that the fix was in, casting an ugly shadow over some beautiful skating.

Kim Yu-na of South Korea, the 2010 Olympic champion, finished second to Sotnikova, sparking accusations that the judging panel favored the Russian. There also were rumors that American and Russian judges were conspiring to rig the outcomes of the ice dancing and team competitions. Meryl Davis and Charlie White of the U.S. were able to rise above it, topping a loaded field to win the country’s first Olympic gold in ice dancing. And Kim handled her silver with grace, mirroring her final Olympic performance.





 

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  • Ice dancing gold medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White of he USA hold and pose with an American flag following the flower ceremony at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Monday, Feb. 17, 2014. (Chuck Myers/MCT) ORG XMIT: 1149269 ORG XMIT: MIN1402171354101500

  • Adelina Sotnikova of Russia celebrates her gold medal in ladies’ figure skating at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014. Behind her Yuna Kim of South Korea celebrates her silver medal. (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/MCT) ORG XMIT: 1149421 ORG XMIT: MIN1402201404333428

  • Jamie Benn (22) of Canada celebrates after scoring a goal in the second period against Team USA in the men’s hockey semifinal at Bolshoy Ice Dome.

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