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Shiffrin out but not down as curtain set to fall on Beijing Games
Mikaela Shiffrin said her United States team-mates got her through a disappointing Beijing Olympics that ended on Sunday with her going home without a medal, as Finland's ice hockey players won the final gold of the Games.
There was a last-gasp gold too for Britain -- their first in the Chinese capital -- thanks to their women's curling team, and more German success in bobsleigh.
But this was a fortnight to forget for 26-year-old Shiffrin, who came into the Games as one of its biggest stars but leaves it without a medal of any description to add to her golds from 2014 and 2018.
The mixed team parallel was her last opportunity to salvage something from the wreckage of these Olympics, after she inexplicably misfired in the individual events, skiing out of three races and finishing out of the medals in two others.
Her US team were beaten to bronze by Norway, but Shiffrin said: "I am not disappointed.
"I have had a lot of disappointing moments at these Games, today is not one of them. Today is my favourite memory.
"This was the best possible way that I could imagine ending the Games, skiing with such strong teammates.
"My teammates are what carried me through this Olympics."
Austria won gold by beating Germany, capping a remarkable comeback for Johannes Strolz.
The 29-year-old went back to traffic police duties and even trained with the Germans after a string of poor results saw him axed from the Austrian team just seven months ago.
But he roared back to form and went on to win gold in the men's alpine combined and silver in the slalom in the Chinese capital, before rounding it off with more gold.
"I always believed in myself that I am able to compete at the highest level but three medals at the Olympics, two gold, one silver, I have never thought about that, that it would be possible for me just a year after losing the team spot," he said.
"It's just a dream for me."
- 'In the stars' -
There was redemption of sorts too for Team GB, who finally won a gold in Beijing, as their women's curling team thrashed Japan 10-3.
It was just Britain's second medal of the Games in total -- the other being silver for the men's curlers on Saturday.
Led by skipper Eve Muirhead, Britain's women had only just squeezed into the final after roaring from 4-0 down in Friday’s semi-final against Sweden before advancing in a nerve-racking extra-end shoot-out.
"To stand on the podium and get that gold medal around your neck is honestly a moment I'll never forget," said Muirhead, who shed tears of joy on the podium.
The win on Sunday was a triumphant end to a poor Games for Britain, whose small but well-funded Olympic squad fell below expectations.
There were no such problems for Norwegian cross-country skier Therese Johaug, who pocketed her third gold of this Olympics when she dominated the 30-kilometre women's mass start field.
Johaug was ruled out of the 2018 Winter Games after failing a doping test for a substance in a lip balm.
The Yanqing sliding track belonged to Germany in this Olympics and Francesco Friedrich made history by repeating his bobsleigh double from four years ago as the Germans signed off having won nine of the 10 titles in bobsleigh, luge and skeleton.
A jubilant Finland sealed the last gold of the Games, in men's ice hockey, with a 2-1 victory over defending champions the Russian Olympic Committee.
It was the first ever Olympic gold medal in ice hockey for Finland, one of the sport's strongholds.
After more than two weeks of blood, sweat, tears and more tears, Norway topped the medals table for a second Games in a row, with 16 golds.
Germany were second on 12, with hosts China on nine, one ahead of the United States, Sweden and Netherlands.
The closing ceremony starts at 8:00pm (1200 GMT) with Beijing handing over to 2026 hosts Milano Cortina.