Sochi provided many Olympic heroes. A first among equals, however, has to be Norway’s Ole Einar Bjoerndalen.
Coming into his last Olympics, the 40-year-old biathlete needed two medals to become the most decorated Winter Olympian of all time. Bjoerndalen did just that, winning a first gold in the men’s sprint and a second gold medal in the mixed relay.
Belarusian Darya Domracheva proved that her nickname as the Grand Dame of women’s biathlon is well deserved. She clinched golds in the pursuit, the individual race and the mass start – becoming the first female in Olympic history to win three biathlon titles at the same Games.
Marit Bjoergen also won three golds – starting by leading a Norwegian sweep in the 30-kilometre cross-country. Norway’s dominance in women’s skiing was upset only by a disappointing 5th place in the relay.
The Dutch speed skating squad, led by Sven Kramer, achieved 23 podium finishes, including four ‘clean-sweeps’. In no other discipline is there such a clear superiority of one team.
Norwegian Alpine skier Aksel Lund Svindal, who nurtured gold medal ambitions in several events, including downhill and giant slalom, left Sochi without a single medal.
Svindal’s fellow Norwegian – cross country skier Petter Northug – also never had a chance to shine. The nine-time world champion took home no medals.
Known as the Usain Bolt of snowboarding, Shaun White was aiming for his third halfpipe gold in Sochi. But crashing out cost White not only a victory, but also a place on the podium.