Canada finishes fourth in medal count
Canada fell a medal short of "maintaining the gain" at the Sochi Olympics.
The host team's 26 medals four years ago in Vancouver set a new Winter Games standard.
Canada's 220 athletes departed Russia with 10 gold, 10 silver and five bronze for 25, compared to 14 gold, seven silver and five bronze in 2010. Their performance was capped by the men's hockey team defending the gold Sunday with a 3-0 win over Sweden.
Canada finished fourth in the overall medal standings and third in gold medals. The stated objective by Canadian sport leaders was to win more medals than any other country.
But it was host Russia that stormed the top of the table on the final weekend to finish with 33, ahead of the United States at 28 and Norway with 26. The Netherlands was fifth with all 24 medals earned in speedskating.
Beating or even matching the 2010 performance was going to be a tall order for Canada without home-ice and home-snow advantage. The Canadian team came close thanks to five medals won in new sports introduced in Sochi.
"We asked our athletes to contend," chef de mission Steve Podborski said Sunday. "Our athletes have done so. It's not easy. Sometimes it doesn't work very well at all. But they stood up. They stood together.
"I'm delighted with the performance they have offered us, and what they have done for themselves and for their teammates."
It was a talking point at the Canadian Olympic Committee news conference Sunday morning that Canada sat only four medals back of Russia in first place. But the gap was considerably larger by the end of the day.
Russia's final surge Sunday included a podium sweep in the men's cross-country race and another medal in bobsled. After a dismal 2010 with just 15 medals including three gold, the host team scooped up seven medals on the final weekend to claim the overall pennant.
"Russia nailed it," said Caroline Assalian, the COC's chief sport officer.
The Americans lost some ground in Sochi with nine fewer medals than in 2010. The Germans plummeted to 19 from the 30 that put them second behind the U.S. in Vancouver.
In the end, Canada finished nine medals out of first, instead of 11 back in 2010.
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