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Importance of hockey gold inflated

Russia's return to dominance was to signal global ascendancy -- now what?

Updated: February 20, 2014, 4:00 PM ET
By Brett Forrest | Special to ESPN.com

SOCHI, Russia -- The Olympic flame flickered high above Sochi's Olympic Park, emitting a telling odor. It smelled as if something was burning. The Russian men's hockey team had just lost to Finland in the quarterfinals, ending its tournament run before the medal round. So much for happy endings.

The $50 billion-plus that Russia spent preparing for these Games were assigned for a single outcome: a hockey gold medal. It would be symbolic of the Olympics' larger success. Dominant ...

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