Yes, even in Sochi, Games inspire

"Hundredths of a second is always luck," Switzerland gold medalist Dominique Gisin said of determining a winner in such a close race. "But luck comes back once in your life. One time you're on one side, one time you're on the other. Maybe just once you're in the middle, like today."

Slovenia's Tina Maze also won gold in that downhill, one of the eight medals won by her small country. Slovenia also upset Slovakia 3-1 in men's hockey, prompting forward Anze Kopitar to say, "I hope they're not going to mix us up with Slovakia anymore."

Hey, it gets confusing keeping track of all the countries and just who is competing for them these days. In addition to snowboarder Vic Wild, South Korean gold medalist Viktor Ahn also competed for Russia. Many other passport Olympians competed for countries in which they or their parents might have been born but in which they haven't resided for years or decades. Halfpipe skier Peter Crook competed for the British Virgin Islands even though he hadn't lived there since moving to Wisconsin in 2001.

"My dad and I had to set up the British Virgin Islands' ski association. We pretty much are the ski association," Crook said. "When we first went to the BVI Olympic Committee, they thought I was talking about water skiing."

The old reliables were well represented, though. The Dutch -- and their ever-vocal, orange-clad fans -- dominated in speedskating, winning 23 medals, including five by Ireen Wust, who has eight in her career. Such was the Dutch success and the American disappointment (zero medals) that U.S. coach Kip Carpenter told reporters at the team pursuit, "The good thing about the team pursuit is that all the Dutch skaters are in one team, so they can only win one medal."

Russian figure skaters dazzled the home fans, winning gold in the pairs, women and new team competition. The team event was attended by Russia President Vladimir Putin, who surprised the U.S. skaters by stopping to congratulate them on their bronze medal.

"I think if President Obama tapped me on the shoulder and I turned around, it would be a shock," said American pairs skater Simon Shnapir, who was born in Moscow but moved to Boston as a young child.

The Russians, however, did not fare so well on the other ice rink. In a pseudo but decidedly lesser rematch of the 1980 game, Russia's millionaire NHL and KHL hockey players lost to our millionaire NHL players 3-2 in an overtime shootout that had more Americans tweeting about T.J. Oshie than about what they had for breakfast that morning.

Asked what a hockey gold medal would mean for Russia, Alex Ovechkin said, "It means gold costs only $50 billion."

Or maybe more. Despite the billions Russia invested in these Games, it did not win gold in the event it most wanted. Worse, the hockey team didn't even make it past the quarterfinals. (The gold medal was won again by Canada.) Told that his coaching predecessor had been eaten alive by the media after a poor performance in Vancouver, Russian coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov said, "Well then, eat me alive right now. Eat me and I won't be here anymore."

That might have been the best quote of these Games, but perhaps the most stirring moment of these Olympics was in the women's biathlon relay Friday.

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