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Sochi 2014: Small country is true Olympics winner, at least for its citizens

By Richard Allen Greene, CNN
February 24, 2014 -- Updated 1615 GMT (0015 HKT)
Sidney Crosby celebrates after scoring Canada's second goal during the men's ice hockey gold medal match against Sweden on Sunday, February 23. Most of us know the Winter Olympics through the power of television, as a spectacle in constant motion. Seeing the Games through still photography is a different experience altogether. Here's a look at the most compelling images from the word's best photographers at Sochi 2014. | <i>More photos:</i> <i><a href='http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/08/worldsport/gallery/falling-down-in-sochi/index.html'>Falling down in Sochi </a></i> Sidney Crosby celebrates after scoring Canada's second goal during the men's ice hockey gold medal match against Sweden on Sunday, February 23. Most of us know the Winter Olympics through the power of television, as a spectacle in constant motion. Seeing the Games through still photography is a different experience altogether. Here's a look at the most compelling images from the word's best photographers at Sochi 2014. | More photos: Falling down in Sochi
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Russia took 33 medals, only 0.23 per million people
  • USA's 28 medals give it 0.09 per million people
  • Who won the most medals per capita? It's a perennial powerhouse

(CNN) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin is no doubt leaving Sochi with a smile on his face: True, his beloved men's hockey team crashed out of Winter Olympics competition before medals were up for grabs, but the host nation claimed 33 medals overall, the most of any country at the Games.

But then, Russia was one of the very largest countries competing in Sochi, with 143.5 million people. And when you take its medal count per capita, it's not such a great haul.

In fact, Team Russia won just 0.23 medals per million Russians, which wouldn't even put the host nation in the top 10 on the medal table. It would be joint 12th with Croatia, Germany and France.

Meanwhile, if you consider the size of the countries competing, some smaller nations would rocket in the standings.

The Czech Republic's eight medals would put it in eighth place, with 0.76 medals per million Czechs.

Iconic images from Sochi
Sochi's farewell
Looking ahead to Pyeongchang 2018

Finland's five medals would earn the nation seventh place, since there are only 5.4 million Finns.

Tiny Latvia would shoot up to joint third place with Austria, each country managing to bring home two medals per million citizens.

Mighty Canada would tumble to ninth place, its 25 medals averaging out to 0.72 medals per million Canadians.

But Team USA would fall much farther than Canada. There are about 314 million Americans, so the country's 28-medal total works out to 0.09 medals per million people -- putting the United States 21st in the medal table, below South Korea and Poland, each of which claimed 0.16 medals per million.

Who comes out top of the medal table per capita?

The answer won't surprise veteran Winter Olympics fans: One small country is already the most successful nation in Winter Olympic history, claiming the largest number of gold medals and the largest number of medals overall. This year, there was even an event (a women's cross-country ski race) where all three medals went to that country.

It is, of course, Norway, which took home 26 medals from Sochi, the third-highest medal total overall. Only Russia and the United States had a larger haul.

But Norway has only 5 million people. That means it claimed 5.2 medals per million, far more than Russia and the Americans, and knocking little Slovenia into second place, with four medals per million.

Here's the whole top 10 (actually 11) Sochi Games medal based on population size:

1. Norway 5.2 medals per million people

2. Slovenia 4.0

=3. Latvia 2.0

=3. Austria 2.0

4. Sweden 1.58

5. Netherlands 1.43

6. Switzerland 1.38

7. Finland 0.93

8. Czech Republic 0.76

9. Canada 0.72

10. Belarus 0.63

Population source: World Bank, 2012

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