Golden finale to the Olympics

The concluding two days of the Games propelled Team Russia to the top of the medal table. Over the weekend, Russian athletes won Olympic gold medals in biathlon, snowboard, cross-country skiing and bobsled.

In the men's 50 km mass start race, all three medals went to Russian skiers: Source: Reuters

Viktoria Kolesnichenko, for RBTH

On Saturday seven events were held, in which Team Russia won two gold and one bronze medals. On Sunday there were four events, in which Russia won two gold medals.

Biathlon

By the end of the Games, Russian biathletes at last delighted their fans with a golden victory. Alexey Volkov, Evgeny Ustyugov, Dmitry Malyshko and Anton Shipulin came the first in men's 4x7.5 km relay. It was Anton Shipulin in the final leg of the race who ensured an exciting and spectacular victory for the team, which put Russia at the top of the medal haul. The silver went to Germany, which lost 3.5 seconds to the leaders, and the bronze, to Austria.

The "golden" conclusion to the men's relay race was particularly symbolic given that the last time Russia won this event at the Olympics was back in 1988 in Calgary.

In an interview with R-Sport news agency, Evgeny Ustyugov said: "What other emotions apart from positive ones can one feel? After such a long interval, we have at last revived the tradition of victories in relay races. Although, to be honest, I do feel a certain emptiness too. On the one hand, everything is over and we have won and we are happy, but on the other, we have had very hard 20 days. We have only just started to feel the energy for future victories."

Speed skating

Russia's Olga Graf, Yekaterina Shikhova and Yuliya Skokova won the bronze in the ladies' pursuit finals. Having lost in the semifinals to the Polish team, the Russian trio managed to beat Japanese speed skaters by 2.84 seconds to come in the third place.

The gold went to the Netherlands, whose team not only brought their country its first gold medal in this discipline but also finished the race with an Olympic record.

Snowboard

In men's parallel slalom finals on Saturday, Vic Wild, an American performing for Russia, won his second gold medal at these games. He became the world's first athlete to win two gold medals in snowboard at the same Olympics. The silver went to Slovenia's Zan Kosir and the bronze, to Austria's Benjamin Karl.

Cross-country skiing

The day began with a triumph for the Russian team. In the men's 50 km mass start race, all three medals went to Russian skiers: Alexander Legkov won gold; Maxim Vylegzhanin, silver and Ilia Chernousov, bronze.

The Russians' claim to an impressive performance became clear in the second half of the 50 km race. But the most thrilling was of course the home stretch, when Alexander Legkov, Maxim Vylegzhanin, and Ilia Chernousov took the lead. Their only remaining rival at this stage was Norway's Martin Johnsrud Sundby, who gave up only in the last 150-200 meters. In the end, he lost just 0.2 seconds to Cheernousov.

"We did not really have team tactics, it emerged only in the home stretch. I was thinking only of myself, I did not see anyone around me. Am I a king of skis? I don't think so, not yet. I did not win the 30 km race, did I? After the biathletes' victory yesterday I could not imagine that I would come in second or third. I dreamt of Shupulin and Malyshko with their gold medals all night," Alexander Legkov said after the race.

Bobsled

After Alexander Zubkov's and Alexey Voevoda's victory in the two-man run, Russian fans had every reason to hope for an equally successful outcome of the four-man event. And Zubkov and Co. did not disappoint. "The magnificent four" led by Alexander Zubkov brought Team Russia its 13th gold medal at these games, further bolstering the country's domination of the medal table. The silver went to Oskars Melbardis' team from Latvia and the bronze, to the US quartet led by Steven Holcomb.

In an interview with the portal Championat.com, Alexander Zubkov said: "We should be able to overcome any situation. The Latvians did everything right and they were great at the start but the work that I have done proved that we are better. Today competition was tougher than in the two-man event. Here the teams' results were closer to each other and we realized that the result of each heat will have a big impact on the final standing. We tried to do our best in each heat."

The 39-year-old athlete, who was Russia's flag bearer at the opening ceremony, also shared some of his plans for the future: "Will I continue my sporting career? For the time being, I would like to take some rest and recuperate. I have never said that I intend to quit sport. Health permitting, we shall continue our sporting careers."

Another Russian team led by Alexander Kasjanov came in the fourth place, while Nikita Zakharov's quartet finished in the 15th position. 

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