VANCOUVER, British Columbia—The 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancvouer have come to an end. But not before the city passes the torch to Sochi. It’s been a wild and historic 16 days for both the U.S. and host Canada. Join me as I blog live from the ceremony at BC Place.
5:30 pm: The ceremony opens with a Canadian mime, poking fun at the cauldron malfunction from the opening ceremony. The crowd is eating it up. One thing Canadians have never been accused of is lacking a sense of humor. Well done Canada, well done.
5:40 pm: Whoa-oh-oh Vancouver! I’ve never seen so many snowboards in my life. I mean, that’s a lot of snowboards.
5:46 pm: Carrying the flag for the U.S. is Billy Demong, who won America’s first gold in Nordic combined. Carrying the flag for Canada is Joannie Rochette who won bronze in ladies’ figure skating. They both had amazing personal stories that unfolded over the course of the past two weeks.
5:46 pm: And here come the rest of the athletes, led by some members of Team USA, then Germany. The nations are broken up into clumps because, as my program says, they are now “one nation of athletes.”
5:53 pm: The Russian team is wearing Sochi jerseys. Sochi is in southern Russia on the Black Sea.
6:03 pm: Nikki Wanofsky, Derek Miller and Eva Avila perform “Let’s Have a Party.” Um, I don’t think that will be a problem tonight. I’m pretty sure there’s a party happening in the streets of Vancouver right now. As I was leaving the hockey stadium, the event directors were helping people exit by saying, “Exit up the stairs. The party is up the stairs!” I’m not kidding.
6:09 pm: How lucky are the 50km cross-country mass start guys that they get to receive their medals at the closing ceremony? That’s pretty clutch. Or “weird,” as Shaun White would say. He might also call it “saucy.”
6:15 pm: These are the newest members of the IOC Athlete Comission, which helps the “Olympic Movement” by evaluating candidate cities, reviewing the games sport programs and fighting against doping. Angela Ruggerio of U.S. women’s hockey is among them.
6:17 pm: Wow, lots of standing for national anthems. First Canada, then Norway, now Greece.
6:19 pm: And just as I sat down again, we’re told to stand for the Olympic Anthem. Lots of pomp and circumstance. I wonder who started the tradition of standing for anthems?
6:25 pm: And now we’re rising again for the Russian Federation national anthem. It’s like doing squats.
6:29 pm: Is it just me or was that a really long anthem. The Sochi delegation was sitting to my left and they were all singing along.
6:31 pm: Nice, it looks like they’re zorbing. I guess it can’t be called zorbing unless they’re rolling downhill in the bubble balls, but it still looks fun.
6:33 pm: Few things are more Russian than ballet. Lovely.
6:35 pm: The skaters in the video footage are the 2006 Olympic ice dancing champions Tatiana Navka and Roman Kostomara. Yup, they’re Russian and the stars of a popular Russian TV show called “Ice Age.”
6:37 pm: The electronic sled is a modern version of a troika. Singing atop it was Maria Guleghina, a world-renowned Russian soprano who has performed at La Scala and the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
6:41 pm: John Furlong, the Vancouver Organizing Committee CEO, is doing an admirable job saying his speech in French, which obviously does not flow off his tongue. And I like that he just threw in an “Eh?”
6:49 pm: A standing ovation for Georgia, Nodar Kumaritashvili and his family.
6:57 pm: Neil Young, another performer I had no idea was Canadian. Is there a Canadian witness protection program in the U.S. or something?
6:58 pm: An interesting musical choice, especially considering this is airing on NBC in the U.S. Neil Young was Conan O’Brien’s last musical guest on his short lived Tonight Show stint, when NBC yanked the show from him and gave it back to Jay Leno. Young also performed “Long May You Run” then, and O’Brien said Young was the first person to call him and offer him support.
7:02 pm: Bye bye Olympic flame. The “snow” falling on the audience is actually tiny white pieces of paper.
7:05 pm: Shatner! During the opening ceremonies, I was wondering where he was. I mean, he’s only the most famous Montrealer ever. This guy is a riot. Oh, William Shatner.
7:07 pm: Like I said, Canadians have a sense of humor. Witness Catherine O’Hara and her curling entrance. She is hilarious in “Best in Show” and all the other Christopher Guest movies. Gross, a pee in the snow joke. I can’t believe they slipped a potty joke into the closing ceremony.
The “I’m sorry” video montage was really funny!
7:11 pm: Wow, a standing ovation for Michael J. Fox. Who knew he was most beloved Canadian ever? Poutine, yum. The U.S. could use more poutine, aka french fries covered in cheese curds and gravy.
7:14 pm: Hmmm, Martin Short was in the program but not in the show. I wonder what happened.
7:15 pm: Now Michael Buble is singing a cappella wearing a Canadian Mountie uniform. And they just ripped it away to reveal a white tuxedo.
7:17 pm: The Royal Canaian Mounted Police, aka the Mounties are marching. There are 28,000 active Mounties in Canada. I have to say, those are fabulous uniforms. Canada may have had the worst uniforms of the games (speed skating, ak!), but they also have the best in the Mounties.
7:19 pm: And it wouldn’t be Canada without an ode to hockey. Thank goodness for their sakes that they won both men’s and women’s gold. Wow, Mounties, hockey players and maple leafs all at once. And canoes and beavers! All that’s missing are the moose. Oops, here they come. It’s every single Canadian stereotype at once. We have red plaid clad lumberjacks too. Now we need a great big bottle of maple syrup to pour on top of it all, along with a french fur trapper and an igloo.
Audience members are wearing moose antlers that were distributed at each seat.
7:25 pm: If that wasn’t the finale, I don’t know how they could top it.
7:28 pm: The top it with a half hour concert feauturing Canadian rock stars like Nickelback., Avril Lavigne and Alanis Morissette.
7:30 pm: They’re letting the athletes file out of their seats and onto the floor in front of the stage.
7:35 pm: Ooh, Alanis gets centerstage. Takes me right back to 1996 and “You Oughta Know.”
7:43 pm: Now Simple Plan sings their big hit, “Your Love is a Lie.”
7:45 pm: More indoor fireworks like at the gold medal hockey game. I wonder if they would have still set them off if the U.S won.
7:47 pm: Hmmm, am I the only person who has never heard of Hedley? Maybe I’m not not up on what the kids are listening to these days.
7:51 pm: Marie-Mai is a pop star in Quebec. I think Canada may be the only country in the world where both languages of the Olympics—French and English—are official languages as well.
7:55 pm: Here comes the finale featuring k-os and hip hop dancer groups XXS and NON, wearing funktified neon outfits. It’s very So You Think You Can Dance or America’s Best Dance Crew. And that’s a good thing.
7:58 pm: The little kid dancers are from fresh, a competitive hip hop team.
8:00 pm: We can hear the fireworks going off outside. And that’s all folks. The Olympics went out with a bang in an explosion of hip hop and hockey.
See you in London in 2012!
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