Vancouver closing ceremony ends another eventful Olympics
Over the course of 16 days, the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics produced many emotional moments and stunning victories. Viewers heard of the tragic death of Georgian luger, Nodar Kumaritashvili, who was memorialized in the opening ceremonies; witnessed the pain felt by Canadian ice skater Jeannie Rochette, whose mother tragically died days before she was to skate; and rejoiced over the proposal of U.S. Nordic combined athlete Bill Demong to his girlfriend, Katie Koczynski.
Spectators shared in Canadian moguls skier Alexandre Bilodeau's capturing of the first Canadian gold medal, which he won for his cerebral palsy-stricken older brother and depending on who each was rooting for, either rejoiced or bemoaned Canada's gold medal victory over the U.S. on the day of the closing ceremony.
In a nod to the opening ceremony's torch "malfunction," the closing ceremony began with a mime mechanic attempting to raise the fourth leg of the torch. As the pantomime progressed and the fourth leg of the torch finally rose to join the other three, Catriona LeMay Doan, the opening ceremony torch-bearer and former speedskating medalist who was unable to light her faulty leg of the torch, finally got her chance. Amidst cheers of support, Doan completed the task and lit the torch.
As the Olympians reflected on their experiences, Neil Young performed a song and the Olympic flames were extinguished, bringing an official end to the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. A few Canadians, including actor/comedian William Shatner and actor Michael J. Fox, told of their perspective of being Canadian amongst a colorful projection backdrop.
The Canadian parade followed, with a party-esque atmosphere. Michael Buble sang as lavish costumed performers processed in, accompanied by Canadian Mounties, hockey players, and moose and beaver floats.
The hosting country traditionally reserves space in the closing ceremony to pass on the games to the next host. The next Winter Olympics will be set in Sochi, Russia. After the parade and lowering of the Olympic flag, the Russians ushered in their Olympics. They performed song and dance, while dancers in glowing balls, dubbed "Zorbs," rolled around.
Sochi is a summer resort in Russia with a population of 500,000. Russia hopes that the Winter Olympics will transform the region into a year-round tourist destination, though nearly all the Olympic buildings must be built from scratch in a very compact area.
With 14 gold medals, Canada held the top spot for the most gold medals in Winter Olympic history, though they did not fulfill their goal to "own the podium," or receive the highest number of medals. The United States left the Olympics with 37 total medals - a world record for the most number of medals by any nation in a Winter Olympics. Russia, usually a medal contender in the Winter Olympics, finished sixth, which prompted Russian president Dmitry Medvedev to call for the resignation of those in charge of the athletes' training.