Sochi 2014 mascots closing ceremony

ALL THE NEWS, ACTION AND REACTION LIVE FROM SOCHI 2014 AS IT HAPPENS!

By Duncan Mackay and Nick Butler in Sochi
Click refresh for latest updates. All times stated are Russian

до свидания!

Goodbye from Sochi and from the insidethegames blog for the time being - but I can promise that the blog will return at some point in the future!

insidethegames editor Duncan Mackay

Duncan Mackay
"My biggest memory will be the transformation of Sochi - and, to a lesser extent, Russia - by these Olympics. When I came here eight years ago for the first time I could never have believed how the area would be changed and that such that magnificent world-class iconic venues would spring up.
"Almost as big a shock has been the friendliness and 'can-do' attitude shown by the Russian people at these Games, particularly the incredible volunteers, the young vibrant face of new Russia. I can honestly say that I have not heard the word 'nyet' once since I have been here.
"I believe in 20 years time people will look back on these Games, the same way as they do now Tokyo in 1964 or Barcelona in 1992, as a significant turning point in how Russia is perceived. People called them 'Putin's Games'. They were wrong - they were 'New Russia's Games'. I had a brilliant time. Спасибо."

insidethegames reporter Nick Butler

Nick Butler
"From a sporting perspective, nothing will beat the drama of the overtime and penalty shoot out in the Russia v United States ice hockey pool match. I was not around to experience the "miracle on ice" in 1980 but the intensity, passion and rivalry seemed just as intense this time around - and I don't think I've ever seen a sporting encounter with that much build-up deliver so spectacularly...
From a more general point of view it was a delight to be proved so wrong about Sochi and Russia. To barely ever be required to write about issues such as security and gay rights was a huge surprise and to find everyone so friendly and light-hearted but also efficient was a sign of the huge progress Russia has clearly made. 

The Games and New Russia are clearly not perfect but Sochi 2014 was, for me, a great success and - in what I hope to be the first Olympics of many - the bar has been set high for other cities to match it in the future." 

It seems only appropriate to conclude with the reflections of our two insidethegames staff here in Sochi...

But as we bring things to our final blog of Sochi 2014 to a head here in Sochi - it is sport and the celebrations of the Russian supporters to the fore more than anything else.

Crowds gather to watch the action unfold at Sochi 2014 ©Getty ImagesCrowds gather to watch the action unfold at Sochi 2014 ©Getty Images

Non-sporting agenda at Sochi 2014

2022 Olympic and Paralympic race

We have also had plenty of focus on the fledgling race to hold the next but one Olympics and Paralympics in 2022. Four of the five bidding cities held press events here - and our coverage can be seen on the 2022 section of our website.

Each bid performed strongly but each has their own respective challenges and it will be very interesting to see how that pans out over the next few months...
 
126th IOC Session

It seems a long time ago now but - as David Owen pointed out - we did have an IOC Session before the Games here in Sochi.

UN secretary-general Ban Ki Moon gave the opening address at the IOC Session ©Getty ImagesUN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon gave the opening address at the IOC Session ©Getty Images



And it was an important one setting in stone a chain of processes which will culminate in the Extraordinary IOC Session to be held in Monte Carlo in December. Read our articles here and here, and David Owen's blog here.

More Sochi 2014 reaction

Quote graphicAs snowboarders, our family loved watching the slope style and half pipe snowboarding and the commentary that went with it. The friendly and laissez faire attitudes of the competitors, especially the women, was very refreshing.
- insidethegames financial controller Andrew Ewing particularly enjoyed the snowboarding action

david owen 2014
1) Canada's ridiculous comeback to beat USA 3-2 in the women's ice hockey final. The best sporting comeback since "Football. Bloody hell!" and Sheringham and Solskjaer in the Nou Camp in the European Cup final in 1999.
2) The IOC Session - I'm an anorak, remember - refreshing to watch the webcam of a very large proportion of IOC members engaged in genuine debate about live issues facing the Movement. Let's hope this really is the start of a sensible, but where necessary far-reaching, process of reform, and does not turn out to be just a talk-shop.
- Chief columnist David Owen provides two highlights.

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On behalf of #TeamNL Thanks to Dimitri @DChernyshenko #Sochi2014 staff and volunteers for comfortable, safe and friendly Games. Well done!
Maurits Hendriks, Chef de Mission of the Netherlands team, tweets his reaction. He doesn't divulge any speed-skating secrets unfortunately...

Philip Barker
The Opening and Closing ceremonies are always special and spine tingling occasions and on this occasion, the Russian organisers  came up trumps. They produced  two classical spectaculars which were a delight from beginning to end .
On the sporting field, the sheer enthusiasm of the Russian crowd, Lizzy Yarnold's wonderful gold in the skeleton for Britain and the compelling tension of both curling competitions.
Most of all it was the way young Russians embraced the Games and seized their chance in the words memorably used by Jesse Owens to "Break Bread with the World"
insidethegames Olympic historian Philip Barker on Sochi 2014. After attending every  Summer or Winter Games since Atlanta 1996 - bar Vancouver 2010 - he has declared Sochi 2014 to be his favourite ever away Games (i.e. second after London 2012) 

Praise indeed, and if you haven't read it already, here is Philip's excellent take on the "tour de force" that was the Closing Ceremony.

More Sochi 2014 controversies

16:50
To add to the list we begin to bring you earlier (at 13:32) here are some of the more controversial moments of Sochi 2014...

After an impressive 13 doping-free days we had a late flurry with six positive tests. Latvian ice hockey player Vitalijs Pavlovs, Ukrainian cross-country skier Marina Lisogor, German biathlete Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle, Italian bobsledder William Frullani and ice hockey player Nicklas Bäckström all failed for various stimulant products they claimed to have taken inadvertently through medication or food supplements.

There was fury in Sweden over the decision to suspend NHL star Nicklas Backstrom two hours before the ice hockey final ©Getty ImagesThere was fury in Sweden over the decision to suspend NHL star Nicklas Bäckström two hours before the ice hockey final ©Getty Images



Austrian cross country skier Johannes Duerr, meanwhile, was kicked out of the Games after testing positive for erythropoietin (EPO). Read our articles here, here and here.

- Figure skating judges
. A age-old gripe for most figure-skating, after some smaller protests earlier on - the question of figure skating judges was revived when Yuna Kim of South Korea was overhauled by the hitherto unheralded home hope Adelina Sotnikova in the ladies final.

Yuna Kim and Adelina Sotnikova following the conclusion of the ladies event ©Getty ImagesYuna Kim and Adelina Sotnikova following the conclusion of the ladies event
©Getty Images



A petition collected over two million signatures calling for an investigation into the decision and our article can be seen here.

Pride House to open during Glasgow 2014

16:34
In non-Olympic specific news, a Pride House will be open for the duration of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Shona Robison, Scotland's Minister for Commonwealth Games and Sport, has announced today. It will welcome lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) athletes, fans and visitors throughout the Games. Read our article here.

Anti-Government protesters jailed in Russia

16:10
Things are a bit quiet here today on the news front - as most people make their way back from Sochi - but one piece of news with a tenuous Winter Olympics link due to its timing so soon after the Closing Ceremony...

A court in Moscow jailed seven opposition activists for up to four years this afternoon for their involvement in an anti-Kremlin protest that ended in violent clashes with police, it is being reported in Ria Novosti.

The activists were sentenced for participating in rioting and violence at a rally in Moscow's Bolotnaya Square in May 2012, shortly before Vladimir Putin was sworn in for a third term as President. This was despite opposition activists accusing the police of instigating the violence at the demonstration.

They had denied the charges but were convicted last week before being charged today - with the sentences ranging from two and half to four years of imprisonment.

More appraisals on Sochi 2014 from the insidethegames team

Alan HubbardFor me, the star of Sochi did not win a medal - although she deserves one. The ever-excellent Clare Balding helped restore sanity, balance and dignity  to the BBC's mouth-frothing commentaries of those slopestyle shriekers Ed Leigh, Tim Warwood and Aimee Fuller who made those of us at home squirm with embarrassment at their juvenile jingoism.
Equally admirable was presenter Balding's decision to ignore the outrageous Twitter trolls which slammed her for not boycotting the Games over Russia's laws against  the promotion of same-sex relationships.
As her partner, the former television presenter Alice Arnold says, it was ironic that "the only gay person going" should be attacked in this way. Though not for a moment do we believe that Balding is the only gay in the BBC's Olympic Village. Just the only one who has actually come out.
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Columnist Alan Hubbard provides his Sochi 2014 broadcasting highlights.

The BBC received criticism for their excessively partisan coverage of the Games - focusing overwhelmingly on British athletes ©Getty ImagesThe BBC received criticism for their excessively partisan coverage of the Games - focusing overwhelmingly on British athletes ©Getty Images



Some more Olympic firsts recorded at Sochi 2014

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Victor An of Russia not only became the most successful athlete at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, he also became the first Winter Olympian to win gold medals for two Nationas that are not politically or constitutionally linked. An won gold medals for South Korea at Turin 2006 and Sochi 2014. 

· Luger Armin Zoeggeler became the first and so far only athlete to claim a medal at six different Olympic Winter Games. He collected a bronze medal in the men's singles event in Sochi.

· The women's downhill event in alpine skiing produced the sport's first dead heat at the Olympic Games with Tina Maze of Slovenia and Dominique Gisin of Switzerland clocking the exact same winning time. They were both awarded a gold medal.

The two gold medal winners embrace following their historic tie for gold ©Getty ImagesThe two gold medal winners Dominique Gisin and Tina Maze embrace following their historic tie for gold ©Getty Images



· Ireen Wust of the Netherlands collected a record-equalling five medals from a single Winter Games. She is the the 10th athlete and fifth speed skater to achieve this.

· Speed skaters Michel and Ronald Mulder became the second pair of twins to collect a medal in the same individual event. Michel won gold and Ronald took bronze in the men's 500m. US Alpine skiers Phil and Steve Mahre both won medals in alpine skiing's men's slalom event in 1984.

A record number of countries attended Sochi 2014...

One of them was East Timor - whose lone participant in skier Yohan Goncalves Goutt finished 41st in the men's slalom event...

People from all over the world came to Sochi 2014...including from East Timor ©Philip BarkerPeople from all over the world came to Sochi 2014...including from East Timor
©Philip Barker








And they may have only had one athlete...but they also had a supporters club.

An East Timor supporters club was also present ©Getty ImagesAn East Timor supporters club was also present ©Getty Images


Some more of the best quotes of Sochi 2014


Quote graphicThe first time I went to the Olympics, it was to go big and get laid. The second time it was to get famous and get paid, but that didn't work out."
Snowboarder and practising Buddhist Crispin Lipscomb of Canada on his road to enlightenment and a more serious approach in his third Games

Quote graphic"Oh no, it would be too much. Two girls in one room is a mess. If two girls were on a luge, they would pull each other's eyes out."
- Russia's Tatyana Ivanova is not too sure about the idea of a women's double luge event.

Quote graphic"We have a lot of questionable sports in the Olympics today. We will have snowballing in the Olympics soon and we want to throw this away."
Silver medallist Ivica Kostelic of Croatia is not amused by talk that the super combined could be dropped from the Games.

More Sochi 2014 facts and stats...

14:49 Ski jumper Noriaki Kasai of Japan and luger Albert Demchenko of Russia set a joint Olympic Winter Games record by making their seventh appearances. Both athletes won medals.

· There were eight medal sweeps all in all - a record at a single Winter Games. Netherlands took gold, silver and bronze in four speed skating events - the men's 500m, the men's 5000m, the men's 10,000m and the women's 1500m - while the United States swept the podium in men's ski slopestyle.

Dutch domination seemed an almost daily occurence in speed-skating ©Getty ImagesDutch domination seemed an almost daily occurrence in speed-skating ©Getty Images



Elsewhere, France claimed all the medals in the men's ski cross event. Norway recorded a 1-2-3 in cross country skiing's ladies' 30km mass start before Russia did the same in the men's 50km event. 

Thank-you breakfast and Olympic Orders presented

14:26 IOC President Thomas Bach welcomed Games organisers to a thank-you breakfast this morning.

Joined at the event by the Russian President Vladimir Putin, Bach awarded a number of the main organisers with Olympic Orders in gold and silver, and presented the Olympic Cup to the People of Sochi.

Following on in a similar vein to his Closing Ceremony speech, Bach also thanked the Sochi team for having delivered "athletes' Games", which had met with overwhelming approval from all the different stakeholders involved in but, in particular, from the athletes themselves.

A number of Olympic Orders were handed out this morning to those who had worked hardest to deliver the Games ©IOCA number of Olympic Orders were handed out this morning to those who had worked hardest to deliver the Games ©IOC





Gold Olympic Orders were presented to deputy prime minister Dmitry Kozak and the President and chief executive of Sochi 2014 Dmitry Chernyshenko for their "tireless work for the Games."

An Olympic Cup was also presented to the Mayor of Sochi, Anatoliy Pakhomov, for the people of Sochi, who, for the past seven years, have "had to live according to the rhythm of the intense transformation of their city and to whom the IOC is extremely grateful for their patience and determination."

It was added: "the people of Sochi delivered very successful Games and will now undoubtedly have a great Olympic legacy in tourism and numerous other areas from the Games."

Seven of Sochi 2014's executive vice-presidents were also presented with Olympic Orders in silver for their work on the project.

Thomas Bach welcomes Games contributors, including President Putin, to a thank you breakfast this morning ©IOC/Ian JonesThomas Bach welcomes Games organisers, plus President Putin, to a thank-you breakfast this morning ©IOC/Ian Jones



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Brilliant Closing Ceremony at Sochi. Congratulations Russia on a great Winter Olympics.
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UCI President Brian Cookson also tweets his congratulations to Sochi.

twitter logoMany congratulations to Russia. Superb host of #Sochi2014 & finished the games as the #1 Winter Sports nation.
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FIFA President Sepp Blatter enjoyed the Games as well as Switzerland's success at it. 

Sochi 2014 highlights from the more partisan contingent of the insidethegames team...

Paul Osborne"My highlight is probably the same as most Brits in that it was the men's curling semi final against Sweden
Sat in the office screaming at the television as our new found love for curling, mixed with a sense of profound patriotism, got the better of us. With David Murdoch lining up his final shot, after an absolute humdinger from the Swedish skip, we all knew, and could see by the cheeky smile etched across Murdoch's face, that this was the moment he, and the nation, had been waiting all game, nay, all Games for.
As he let go of the final stone, his face a euphoria of excitement and concentration, I could barely hold myself to my chair. Screaming at the television I feel as though I was down with the guys, sweeping the stone towards the house and the inevitable victory that awaited.
Anyone who says curling is boring, I challenge them to watch that final stone hurling down the ice, with victory a nail width away, and not feel the excitement that I did on that fateful day."
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Reporter Paul Osborne gets a touch carried away with the heroics of the British men in securing their place in the curling final. It was a pity what happened once they were there as Canada proved simply too good with a 9-3 win to secure a curling golden double...

David Murdoch celebrates his epic curling victory over Sweden ©Getty ImagesDavid Murdoch celebrates Britain's epic curling victory over Sweden ©Getty Images


Scandals of Sochi 2014

13:32 Given the build-up, Sochi 2014 was remarkably low on controversy.

And those that did occur were generally new ones relating to matters which happened here. Here are a few of the highlights...

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It all came to nothing of course as the sport proved a huge hit - but initially slopestyle snowboarders were not super-stoked about their ultra-difficult course during training runs...

We had injuries, crashes, course-change and the tactical withdrawal of super-star Shaun White to focus on his favoured halfpipe discipline.

That went well didn't it Shaun...

The slopestyle course received criticism from various quarters for being too dangerous after training began ©Getty ImagesThe slopestyle course received criticism from various quarters for being too dangerous after training began ©Getty Images


It seems a long time ago now but our reports can be read to jog the memory here, here and here.

- The choice of triple gold medal winning figure skater Irina Rodnina, meanwhile, as one of the two Flamelighters in the Opening Ceremony provoked a hail of criticism - mainly from a certain North American country - due to an allegedly racist tweet she had posted last year about a certain North American President not present at the Games.

The choice of Irina Rodnina of flamellighter has received criticism due to her allegedly racist tweet she posted about Barrack Obama ©Getty ImagesThe choice of Irina Rodnina of Flamelighter received criticism due to her allegedly racist tweet she posted about Barrack Obama ©Getty Images



Rodnina deleted and eventually apologised for the tweet - but claimed her account had been hacked... There was some scepticism at this, surprise, surprise, and and our reports at the time can be read here and here.

Sochi 2014 highlights from the insidethegames team...

Dommie Gill
One of my sillier highlights was the incredible roar of welcome the Jamaican team got when they entered the Fisht Arena at the Opening Ceremony and I loved how last night the Russians showed their sense of humour with the fifth ring...
- Commercial director Dommie Gill selects moments from the Opening and Closing Ceremonies.

They may have not done too well on the track...but the Jamaican bobsleigh team made lots of headlines once again at their first Winter Olympics in 12 years ©Getty ImagesThey may have not done too well on the track...but the Jamaican bobsleigh team made lots of headlines once again at their first Winter Olympics in 12 years
©Getty Images




Back to the sport...


twitter logoSochi - what a great platform for Team GB Winter to push on from - well done guys.
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British Olympic Association chairman Sebastian Coe congratulates the British team on their best medal haul since 1924.

Great Britain finished 19th in the medals table with one gold, one silver and two bronze medals: skeleton gold for Lizzie Yarnold, slopestyle bronze for Jenny Jones and curling silver and bronze for the men and women's teams.

Lunchtime literature lesson

12:56
I'm not sure if I could honestly recommend Tolstoy's "War and Peace" having valiantly abandoned my quest to read it long before the end - but, for a shorter and simpler but an equally eye-opening read, I would definitely advise Solzhenitsyn's "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich."

12:50
With one of the Olympic themes being education and learning through sport - the Closing Ceremony paid homage to this with a section recognising 12 of Russia's - or the Soviet Union's - literary greats.

Some of these are more famous than others - but here is a bit of background info on all 12. Who ever said reading insidethegames does not broaden your intellectual horizons?

1) Anna Akhmatova - Anna Andreyevna Grenko, better known by her pen name Anna Akhmastova, is regarded as one of Russia's greatest poets. A modernist working in the early 20th century, she wrote about life under Russian leader Joseph Stalin and her work was censored by authorities. She was also renowned for translating Italian, French, Armenian and Korean poetry into Russian.

2) Joseph Brodsky - A poet and essayist who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1987. Brodsky studied with Akhmatova before he was expelled from the Soviet Union in 1972 and emigrated to the USA. He served as Poet Laureate of the USA from 1991-1992.

The Closing Ceremony paid homage to some of the great authors of Russian history ©Getty ImagesThe Closing Ceremony paid homage to some of the great authors of Russian history ©Getty Images



3) Mikhail Bulgakov - A writer and playwright working in the first half of the 20th century, Kiev-born Bulgakov was a Red Cross medical volunteer during World War One and later a journalist before turning his pen to writing plays. He wrote science fiction as well as satire, fantasy and fiction. His most famous work is the novel The Master and Margarita.

4) Anton Chekhov - A medical doctor, playwright and author who is considered one of the world's greatest writers of short stories. Chekhov was an influential figure in modern short story-writing techniques. In the world of theatre, his most famous plays include The Seagull, Uncle Vanya, Three Sisters and The Cherry Orchard. His fame and popularity increased posthumously.

5) Fyodor Dostoyevsky - A novelist, essayist, short story writer and philosopher who graduated in engineering but chose to pursue a career in literature. In 1849 he narrowly escaped death by firing squad (for his involvement in a secret society) and instead served a four-year hard labour sentence in Siberia. He later worked as a journalist and writer. His most famous novel was Crime and Punishment, written in 1866.

6) Nikolai Gogol - A Ukrainian-born writer, playwright, poet and critic, Gogol followed in the footsteps of his father, who wrote stories for the Ukrainian puppet theatre. He was a leader in Russian literary realism and his works satirised political corruption in Russia, resulting in his eventual exile. He was referenced many times in works by Dostoyevsky and Chekhov.

7) Vladimir Mayakovsky - The multi-talented Mayakovskywas a Bolshevik poet, playwright, artist and actor. He was passionate about Marxist literature and was one of the founders of the Russian futurist art movement. Russian leader Joseph Stalin described him as "the best and most talented poet of our Soviet era".

Literature at the Closing Ceremony ©McClatchy-Tribune/Getty ImagesLiterature at the Closing Ceremony ©McClatchy-Tribune/Getty Images



8) Aleksandr Pushkin - Pushkin is considered the founder of modern Russian literature and the country's greatest poet. Working in the early 19th century Romantic area, he pioneered the use of every day speech in his poetry. PUSHKIN wrote a mixture of Old Slavonic with vernacular Russian, giving his poetry an unusual melodic quality. He died at the age of 37 from injuries sustained in a duel against a French military officer who had been attempting to seduce his wife.

9) Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn - Solzhenitsyn, who lived from 1918 to 2008, was a novelist, historian and critic of Soviet totalitarianism including gulags and forced labour camps. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1970 "for the ethical force with which he has pursued the indispensable traditions of Russian literature". He was expelled from the Soviet Union in 1974 but returned to Russia in 1994 after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

10) Leo Tolstoy - The author of lengthy novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina, Tolstoy is considered one of the world's greatest writers. War and Peace is more than 1200 pages long and subdivided into four books. Born in 1828 into a well-known noble family, Tolstoy's works reflected his personal journey from a privileged background to a spiritual anarchist. He also wrote plays and essays and was known for his extreme moral views.

11) Marina Tsvetaeva - A poet writing in early 20th century Russia, TSVETAEVA is considered one of the greatest Russian poets of her era. She wrote about the 1917 Russian revolution and the subsequent Moscow famine, drawing from her own experiences of poverty, starvation and political struggles. She committed suicide at the age of 48.

12) Ivan Turgenev - Writing in the mid-19th century, Turgenev was a novelist, short story writer and playwright who pioneered Russian realism. His early, influential works included short stories about peasant life which were credited with influencing public opinion in favour of abolishing serfdom in 1861. His later works continued to explore problems in Russian society.

Super stoked at Sochi 2014...

12:35
These events produced plenty of thrills, spills and exciting finishes as well...

A photo finish from the men's ski cross yesterday ©Sochi 2014A photo finish from the men's ski cross ©Sochi 2014



12:28 Who said the Olympic Games was not for learning new things? New sports...but also new vocabulary from many of those who competed in some of these new snowboard and freestyle events... 

Quote graphic"I'm holding it down for the rad dad club."
- Halfpipe skier David Wise on being a father and bringing his family to Sochi.



Quote graphic."Switch right-side gap 270 on, pretzel 270 out on the down-flat-down; switch on, 450 out of the up rail, to left side 270 on, pretzel 270 off on the down; to a butter, switch slide to corked 450 off on the cannon feature. Then, left side double corked 1260 double Japan on the first booter, to switch right side dub 1080 tail grab, and a switch right side triple corked 1260 Japan on the big booter."
Ski slopestyle judge Simon Tjernstroem offers an easy explanation as to why it was a no-brainer to award Joss Christensen the gold medal.

Quote graphicI'm super stoked. So stoked to be here, representing the USA for sure. Bringing home the gold is just icing on the cake.''
- The first gold medal winner of Sochi 2014, US slopestyle snowboarder Sage Kotsenburg, is super-stoked following his triumph. He said that a lot. 

Ukraine - Olympics to build bridges

12:04
With the exception only of Alpine skier Bohdana Matsotska the Ukrainian team unanimously chose to stay on and compete in Sochi despite the troubles - and even Matsotska stayed here to cheer on her team-mates even though she personally withdrew. Read our article about this last Thursday here. 

11:55
IOC President Thomas Bach also selected that gold medal as one of his stand out moments of Sochi 2014. He described it as a powerful symbol of unity during the country's bloody political crisis, and praised the Ukrainian team for staying to compete in Sochi rather than returning home. 

"In this moment, mourning on the one hand, but knowing what really is going on in your country, seeing your capital burning, and feeling this responsibility, and then winning the gold medal, this really stands out for me," Bach told the Associated Press "It was really an emotional moment."

twitter logoGreat proof of how sport can unite the nation. It is a day of crucial decisions in Parliament. Hope the power of sport help to find unity. Moments after girls won gold Ukrainian Parliament stopped discussions. Speaker greeted the team, MPs sang national anthem!
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Sergey Bubka tweets his reaction on Friday following the gold medal

11:46 I have lost count of the amount of times that we have heard a speech during Sochi 2014 emphasising how the Olympics should build bridges and bring people together and push people apart.

This was best epitomised when - in the midst of the conflict engulfing the country - Ukraine was given a sense of unity by the gold medal won by Vita and Valj Semerenko,
Juliya Dzhyma and Olena Pidhrushna in the women's 4 x 5km biathlon relay.

Sergey Bubka presenting the gold medal to the Ukrainian biathlon relay team ©TwitterSergey Bubka presenting the gold medal to the Ukrainian biathlon relay team ©Twitter



Quotes of the Games

11:29
Some of the best excuses, explanations and bold assertions of Sochi 2014

Quote graphic
"The good thing about the team pursuit is that all the Dutch skaters are in one team, so they can only win one medal."
USA speed skating coach Kip Carpenter had enough of Dutch podium sweeps. We will study the dominance of the Dutch in the Adler Arena later on today.

Quote graphic"We're just as tired as any other endurance athlete, but we have to look pretty when we do it."
Canadian figure skater Mitchell Islam on the special requirements of his sport.


Quote graphic"I've been chosen because I am the special one."
Bobsledder Marvin Dixon fancies taking over the mantle of Chelsea's football manager Jose Mourinho when asked why he was Jamaica's flagbearer. A pity about the last placed finish then for the special one...

Sochi 2014 - the sport...


11:14 We will bring you as many facts and stats as possible from Sochi 2014 throughout the day - starting with a couple of rather special Norwegian skiers...

Brilliant Bjoerndalen

* Ole Einar Bjoerndalen won two more titles at Sochi 2014 ©Getty Images
As well as being elected to the IOC Athletes' Commission as a consequence the IOC, Ole Einar Bjoerndalen claimed two major records in Sochi.

By winning an eighth gold medal, adding to four silvers and a bronze, he became the most successful athlete in Winter Games history. His 13 medals in total also make him the most decorated Winter Olympian of all time. In both cases, he overtook compatriot and fellow cross country skier Bjoern Daehlie

He also became the oldest gold medallist in an individual event at the Olympic Winter Games when he won the 10km sprint aged 40 years and 12 days on 8 February.

Triple gold take two for Bjoergen


Marit Bjoergen crosses the line first as Norway win the team sprint classic cross country ©Getty Images
* Cross Country skiier Marit Bjoergen became the most successful female Winter Olympian by raising her career medal total to six golds, three silvers and one bronze.

Her 10 medals in total equalled the most by a woman in a Winter Games career, but she edged ahead on her gold-silver-bronze combination. She finishes tied with biathlete Darya Domracheva of Belarus as most successful female athlete of these Winter Games, on three golds.

10:46 At the end of it all this is how the final medals table looks... A stunning performance by the host nation to sit pretty at the top.

Though, funnily enough, this result was predicted in an insidethegames poll last year.

Russia top the final medals table of Sochi 2014 ©ITGRussia top the final medals table of Sochi 2014 ©ITG



10:39 We will turn our gaze back on the Closing Ceremony at some point today but apparently there has also been some sporting action going on in Sochi over the last 16 days.

Closing Ceremony review

10:27
The only aspect of the Ceremony which has been praised less strongly was the Pyeongchang 2018 section. Too dry and unmemorable, many have called it - although it is very difficult to pull off a successful show in five minutes...

Surely the presence of PSY and Gangnam Style would have been the answer though? It would have blown the roof off!

The Pyeongchang 2018 section of the Closing Ceremony ©McClatchy-Tribune/Getty Images


IOC members tweet their reaction

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They did well, now you know why there was a rehearsal. Thank you to all amazing volunteers of #Sochi2014 !!!
- IOC Athletes' Commission chair Claudia Bokel focuses on the role of the volunteers.

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What a show!
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Sometimes the simplest reactions are the best. Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski of the Philippines tweets her approval.

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Congratulations to Russian President Putin and IOC President Bach for a successful Winter Olympics.
- Zimbabwe's Kirsty Coventry sends her thanks

A statement from Scott Givens – executive producer of the Sochi 2014 Opening and Closing Ceremonies and President of FiveCurrents

Quote graphic
"FiveCurrents is delighted to have contributed to the success of these magnificent Olympic Games with tonight's showcase of this culturally rich nation. The Closing Ceremony was a triumph of the best of Russia working hand-in-hand with the best live production experts in the world. It was an honor collaborating with talents of the caliber of Konstantin Ernst, Andrei Nasonovskiy and Daniele Finzi Pasca on this seminal project.

"The vision, ambition and technical excellence of Olympic Ceremonies means they are now at the forefront of the global events industry. Having become the first company to serve as Executive Producers for the Ceremonies of back-to-back Games,
FiveCurrents is delighted to have been the driving force that helped put them there. This is the end of FiveCurrents' wonderful journey with the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee and Russia's Ceremonies Staging Agency. We are proud that our work has been watched by a global TV audience of billions over the last fortnight."

09:53
What did you make of the two speeches as well? By Sochi 2014 chief Dmitry Chernyshenko and International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach.

Bach, remember, departed from the tradition of using a few words to rate each Games at the Closing Ceremony, instead declaring his first Olympics as President as the "athletes' Games."

The Closing Ceremony satirically acknowledged the technical glitch of the Opening Ceremony ©Getty Images

09:46
What did you think of the Closing Ceremony? 

To us it continued and rounded off the spectacle that has been Sochi 2014 in the best possible way - combining a cultural story with energy, efficiency and humour.

Reporter Nick Butler described it as grand yet light-hearted while, in his latest blog, insidethegames Olympic historian Philip Barker saw it as a "tour de force"

What did you think? Tweet @insidethegames with your views

Memories of Misha the bear from Moscow 1980 were evoked when the Sochi 2014 mascots helped bring the curtain down on the Closing Ceremony ©Getty Images

09:20 The Games may have been declared closed last night with the Closing Ceremony, but we are going to spend one more day reviewing and wrapping up all of the action from Sochi over the last three weeks. 

Judging by the emptiness of the press centre this morning it doesn't look like too many others have had the same idea - as the mass exodus from Sochi begins.

Even the McDonalds in the Main Press Centre has now closed - until March 4 and the Paralympic Games anyway...

09:00 Good morning and welcome to the final edition of the insidethegames Sochi 2014 live blog.