HOT AND COLD
WOMEN'S SKI JUMP
After years of lobbying for inclusion in the Olympics, women ski-jumpers finally had their day in Sochi when the first competition was held.
Ninety years after the first male ski-jumpers competed at a Winter Games, women were finally granted the chance to prove their mettle in one of the ultimate sporting tests of power, technique and sheer daring.
A top issue before the Games with militants threatening to attack the Games and concerns over how Russian security would tackle the large influx of foreign visitors, athletes and reporters.
The Russian hosts clearly won a gold medal as the tens of thousands of officers blended into the crowds of fans and volunteers with security generally soft-handed.
The teenager had no problem slipping into absent Lindsey Vonn's boots as the new poster girl of American Alpine skiing.
With an Olympic gold medal at the age of 18, Shiffrin (left) is pure gold dust. Known on the circuit as the "Mozart of Skiing", she produced a high-speed waltz through the gates to become the youngest Olympic slalom champion.
OLE EINAR BJOERNDALEN
The Norwegian took his tally of Olympic medals to 13 to become the most decorated Winter Games athlete.
Bjoerndalen, 40 (right), edged ahead of former cross-country skier Bjorn Daehlie and alongside his compatriot as the all-time leading Winter Games gold medallist with eight.
There were 12 new events with snowboard slopestyle kicking off proceedings and captivating audiences the world over with sensational gravity-defying tricks.
Ski slopestyle followed suit as did snowboard parallel slalom, women's ski jumping, biathlon mixed relay, a new figure skating team event and a luge team relay.
The Belarusian (right) dazzled in Sochi, becoming the first woman to win three biathlon titles at the same Winter Olympics when she claimed gold in the 12.5km mass start, the 12.5km pursuit and 15km individual titles.
Germany may have failed as a team to equal their gold-medal haul from Vancouver but there was no sign of failure for the country's lugers who completed a clean sweep.
Men's and women's events were easily won by Felix Loch (right) and Natalie Geisenberger respectively, as was the inaugural team relay.
Rarely has a nation dominated a sport so thoroughly. The Dutch won 21 of 30 individual medals and four medal sweeps, turning the Adler arena orange. They topped their sensational performance by also winning the men's team pursuit.
A traditional winter sports powerhouse, Germany had set out to repeat their successes in 2010 when the country finished in the top three in the medals table along with Canada and the United States.
Of the targeted 30 medals, German athletes collected just 19 to finish sixth overall. They also had to send biathlete Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle (right) home after she was caught doping.
Speculation was rife even before the tournament started that NHL players may not make the trip back to the Olympics again, given the clash with league dates and the 2018 Winter Games to be held in South Korea's Pyeongchang.
They may not be really missed following flat displays. The United States lost 5-0 to Finland in the bronze-medal match while Russia's big names also disappointed, with the hosts crashing out in the quarter-finals, also to Finland.
Rotten tomato instead of flying tomato as the greatest snowboarder of his generation fell flat on his face in Sochi.
He skipped the new slopestyle event to focus on the halfpipe and was instantly accused of playing it safe.
The gamble did not pay off as he left Russia with no prize.
The Americans went home without a medal for the first time since the 1984 Sarajevo Games, despite proclaiming their team of 17 skaters could match the feat of the 2002 squad who won a record eight medals in Salt Lake City.
Even a switch of their hi-tech suits midway through the competitions could not avert their flop.- Reuters.
Russia rejoices at the end
The 2014 Winter Olympics closed with all the elegance of a Faberge egg, a glittering evening tucked full of tributes, opening to reveal carefully crafted surprises, jokes and memories.
"We did it," Dmitry Chernyshenko, president of the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee, told a cheering crowd.
This, he added, was a great moment in Russian history. "This is the new face of Russia, our Russia."
The Sochi organisers showed their sense of humour.
The opening ceremony was stained slightly when one of the five snowflake-like figures that opened into Olympic rings failed to unfold.
On Sunday night, dancers first darted and streamed like fish in the nearby Black Sea.
Finally, they formed into five flower-like clusters. Four opened into Olympic rings. One hovered, unattached, as if unable to open.
Then it did, and the five rings were perfect. The audience laughed and applauded.
Russian athletes made their country proud, stacking up the most medals - 33, 13 of them gold, although there were accusations of bias at the figure skating event.
In the end, security was tight. No one slept on the street despite criticism over unfinished hotels. The snow held up, though sometimes just barely. - Reuters