By: USA Today
February 24, 2014
SOCHI – For the U.S. team, the Sochi Games signified an end of an era. Goodbye, ice queens. Hello, flippie hippies. See you later, pucks and sticks. Nice to meet you, slopes and rails.
As 17 days of competition came to a close Sunday, this much was clear: The face of the Winter Olympics no longer wears skates. Twelve of the USA’s 28 medals came from freestyle skiing and snowboarding, including six of nine gold.
The U.S. Olympic team had never won a medal on every day one was awarded in the Winter Games, and through 14 days in Sochi, the Americans were poised to do that. But the men’s hockey team failed to show up in Saturday’s bronze medal game, losing to Finland 5-0.
If only the kids in baggy pants with a language all their own had competed in the Games’ final days, perhaps the USA could have gone out with more of a bang. Instead, Russia ended this cold war with a flourish — sweeping the podium in the men’s 50-kilometer cross-country ski race Sunday and winning gold in four-man bobsled to secure the top spot with 33 overall medals and 13 golds.
For decades, figure skating was the marquee event of the Games. In Sochi, the U.S. men and women figure skaters had their worst collective finish since 1936. Speedskating has been the USA’s most successful winter sport. But the short-track team left with one medal and the long-track team exited empty-handed, complaining about their suits.