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© AFP / by Charles WHELAN | Norway's Marit Bjoergen won her second gold of the Games and a record-extending 15th Winter Olympics medals.


Winter Olympics legend Marit Bjoergen lifted Norway top of the final Pyeongchang medals table on Sunday, as Russia celebrated a dramatic men's hockey gold -- but also saw their flag barred from the closing ceremony over doping.

Bjoergen, 37, won her second gold and fifth medal at Pyeongchang in the women's 30km cross country mass start, extending her record Winter Olympics career tally to 15.

It was a fitting finale as it handed Norway their 14th gold to overtake Germany in the final medal count, after the German team won the four-man bobsleigh earlier on Sunday.

Germany also finish on 14 golds, but Norway take top spot with their record 39 medals overall to Germany's 31. Canada are third with 11 golds, while hosts South Korea are seventh.

Norway's celebrations capped a dramatic final day of competition that saw the Olympics Athletes from Russia beat Germany 4-3 in a sudden-death, overtime hockey thriller.

Kirill Kaprizov scored a thumping power-play goal 9:40 into the extra period to trigger wild celebrations and end a 26-year wait for the title to return to Russian hands.

The Russian players were heard singing the Russian national anthem on the ice -- apparently contravening rules governing their participation as neutrals, following a major doping scandal.

However, the International Olympic Committee had already voted to maintain Russia's ban pending the results of final dope tests from Pyeongchang, meaning the Russians cannot wave their national flag at Sunday's closing ceremony.

- Stinker for 'Garlic Girls' -

Altogether 168 Russian athletes including the ice hockey players were deemed "clean" and allowed to compete as neutrals in Pyeongchang, despite the suspension of Russia's national Olympic committee.

But two Russians tested positive for doping during the Olympics and IOC president Thomas Bach said as a result, the ban could not be lifted for the closing ceremony.

"This was hugely disappointing and does not permit the IOC to envisage lifting the suspension of Russia for the closing ceremony," Bach said, referring to the positive tests.

The men's ice hockey win brought Russia's total gold medal haul to two, far behind their dope-tainted haul of 13 at Sochi.

Then in the final event of the Games, Norway's Bjoergen claimed her second gold in Pyeongchang as she signed off from her record-breaking Olympic career in style.

The cross-country legend won convincingly, 1min 49.5sec ahead of ahead of Finland's Krista Parmakoski, with Stina Nilsson of Sweden taking bronze.

Bjoergen had already become the most decorated athlete in Winter Olympics history with her 14th medal on Wednesday, outstripping fellow Norwegian Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, who has 13 in biathlon.

However, the fairytale of South Korea's smash-hit "Garlic Girls" women's curling team ended in a stinker, as they lost the final 8-3 against Sweden.

by Charles WHELAN

© 2018 AFP