build bridges with the West, with which Moscow has had uneasy relations under Putin.
"The friendly faces, the warm Sochi sun and the glare of the Olympic gold have broken the ice of scepticism towards the new Russia," Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak, also Putin's Olympics organiser, said at the weekend.
The medals tally was an unexpected bonus after Russia mustered just three golds in Vancouver four years ago to place 11th in the rankings.
The only regret for Russian fans was that the men's ice hockey team progressed no further than the quarter-finals.
Victory gave Canada a sweep of the ice hockey gold medals for a second consecutive Olympics. The women stormed back from 2-0 down in the last four minutes against the United States to break American hearts on Thursday.
The world's gaze then turned to the final act of the Feb. 7-23 Games, the closing ceremony, which painted Russia in far softer colours than the muscular, assertive opening spectacle.
The show's producers deliberately replicated the embarrassing technical hitch from the opening ceremony, when one of five Olympic rings failed to open.
In similar fashion, while dancers in shimmering silver tops formed four perfect rings, one group remained in a tight formation, and only opened to complete the symbol when spectators had cheered the joke loudly.
The sense of national pride at the home team's achievements was palpable as huge roars erupted for the Russian team as they paraded past the crowds.
"Well done!" chanted tens of thousands of Russians as Legkov, Maxim Vylegzhanin and Ilia Chernousov received their gold, silver and bronze medals won in the Caucasus Mountains high above Sochi earlier in the day.
After a rousing rendition of the national anthem by a choir of 1,000 children, the ceremony took viewers on a journey through Russia's rich heritage of visual arts, music, literature and dance.
A deafening volley of fireworks from the stadium's rooftop lit up the sky, and the Olympics were over.