Sochi Olympics gold medal count: Russia surges to the top

Winter Olympics 2014 medal count: Russia now has 29 total medals, including 11 gold. Russia won gold medals in the men's biathlon and snowboarding on Saturday.

By , Staff writer

On the last full day of Olympic competition, Russia raked in the gold medals and rose to the top of the overall medal tally.

Newly minted Russian citizen Vic Wild took his second gold medal of the Games by winning the men's parallel slalom snowboarding event. 

The 27-year-old native of White Salmon, Wash., became a Russian citizen after marrying Russian snowboarder Alena Zavarzina in 2011. But it was more than his relationship with Zavarzina that brought the change in citizenship. The US Ski and Snowboard Association was pouring more money into the half-pipe and slopestyle events (where Americans did capture five medals at Sochi) than into slalom snowboarding.

Recommended: Lessons from the Sochi Winter Olympic Games

"I thought I had never reached my potential (in the U.S.) and I wanted to see how good I could get. That's why I'm a Russian," he told The Associated Press.

Apparently, Wild's move was the right one for him – and the motherland.

Wild and another adopted Russian, former South Korean short track speedskater Viktor Ahn, have won five of Russia's 11 gold medals in Sochi

Russia also won the 4x7.5-kilometer men's biathlon relay - it's first biathlon gold at Sochi, and the nation's 11th overall.  Since 1960, the Soviet Union and Russia have won 19 biathlon Olympic gold medals, more than any other nation.

Russia has 29 total medals at this point and is leading the four-man bobsled competition which concludes Sunday.

Norway picked up gold medal No. 11 - tied with the Russians - in the women's 30-kilometer mass start cross-country skiing event. Marit Bjoergen picked up her sixth gold medal (her third at Sochi) and becomes the most decorated female Winter Olympian, now with 10 total medals.

The Dutch added two more speedskating gold medals to their record haul by winning both men's and women's team pursuit races.

The US men's hockey team were routed by Finland, 5-0, and will leave the Sochi games with no medals.  Sweden and Canada will play in the men's ice hockey finals on Sunday.

The US won't finish at the top of the medal tally overall – or for gold – at Sochi.  The Christian Science Monitor's Mark Sappenfield points to the unrealized expectations in two sports: speed skating and figure skating.

This was "the worst Winter Olympics in history for American long-track speed skaters, tying the medal-less performances of 1984 and 1956."

And "US figure skaters had their worst Olympics since 1936. That was the last time the US won no medals in the men's or women's singles events, and it's clear that judging had no effect on that."

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