The results are in: Examining the final medal table
The sporting events at this year's Beijing Winter Olympics have reached their conclusion. Each athlete has put forth maximal effort, and those most talented and fortunate competitors have had the privilege of earning medals for both themselves and the countries they represent.
Winning an Olympic medal, regardless of its color and composition, is an unforgettable honor for anyone who is able to achieve it. For many, it is the pinnacle of their sporting careers, and for others, it serves as a launching point for further accomplishments and a gateway to national and international stardom.
Let's take a brief look at some of the most successful nations at this year's Games and those who made significant breakthroughs in their quest for dominance in winter sports.
Norway sits atop the table as the winner of the title for both most gold and overall medals at the Games. This comes as no surprise as not only was Norway last year's champion as well but tied for the title in 2014. The Scandinavian nation is the only country to earn at least one gold medal and every rendition of the Winter Games dating back to its inception in 1924.
Norway, by garnering 16 gold medals, established a new record for most golds at any Winter Games. The previous high mark was 14, shared by Canada, Germany and – of course – Norway itself. Combined with their eight silver and 13 bronze medals, the nation amassed a total of 37 medals.
The Norwegian athletes were especially brilliant on skis, with 15 of their 16 gold medals this year earned in ski-bound events like biathlon, cross-country skiing and ski jumping.
The second-place spot was claimed by the German athletes, as they accumulated 12 gold medals and a total medal count of 27. The European nation succeeded in multiple disciplines at this year's event but particularly excelled in sliding sports like luge, skeleton and bobsleigh.
Historically, the German team has been dominant in luge, and this year is no exception, sweeping all four gold medals in the sport. The country's men's bobsledders pulled off a rare podium sweep in the two-man event, securing all three medals – gold, silver and bronze.
In third place, of course, comes China – the country's highest finish yet in terms of medals at the Winter Games. The Chinese athletes performing in their home country won nine gold medals out of a total of 15. Impressively, the medals were spread throughout a number of different sports, including skiing, snowboarding, figure skating, speed skating, as opposed to previously earning a large number of prizes in just one or two events
Newly minted superstar Gu Ailing took home two golds and a silver, and young phenom Su Yiming picked up one of each as well. In addition, Gao Tingyu set a new Olympic best time in the 500-meter speed skating event. It was inarguably a shining success for the host nation atop the snow and ice.
The athletes from the United States occupy the fourth position on the table with eight gold medals and a total count of 25. Though the country missed out on both the men's and women's ice hockey golds, an accomplishment that many thought might come to be, they still were able to capture the top prize in several events, including snowboarding medals. Star figure skater Nathan Chen was also able to take home gold in the men's singles event.
Sweden just edged out the Netherlands for fifth place, with both countries earning eight gold medals and five silvers. The Swedes collected five bronze medals to the Dutch athletes' four. Both countries set Olympic records in the speed-skating events, with the skaters from the Netherlands setting five new Olympic marks and Sweden's Nils van der Poel breaking two Olympic records and one all-time world record.
Austria, Switzerland, the Russian Olympic Committee and France rounded out the top 10. Canada took a total of 26 medals, fourth-most of any country, but only four were of the golden variety, placing them 11th on the final list.
New Zealand was able to pick up two gold medals; the first two the island nation has ever earned in the Winter Games.
Congratulations are certainly in order for all participants in the Games, but especially for those who were able to earn a spot on the podium and a shining symbol representing their outstanding success. Their home countries and all fans of sports worldwide should be proud.