Wow, this closing ceremony rocks. The opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics are always so different from one another; the opening is more about tradition and restraint, and the closing is just one massive party.
The closing always makes me melancholy. I'm such a fan of the Olympics; there is no other sporting event like it. It always feels sad when they take down the Olympic flag and extinguish the flame. This grand two weeks we anticipated for so long, that athletes worked toward for four years, is over. You just want it to go on forever.
The Canadians did themselves so proud with these Games. They were warm and welcoming. They seemed truly happy to have Vancouver overrun with thousands of people from all over the planet. They loved their athletes so, whether they medaled or not; sometimes they loved the ones who didn't medal even more. (The hockey teams would be the only exception to that.) Their national spirit was so stirring. This will be a hard act to follow.
Speaking of ... the next Winter Games will be in an even warmer place. It was 66 degrees a couple of days ago in Sochi, Russia, a resort town on the Russian Riviera that will host the 2014 Games. Sochi's climate is classified as "humid sub-troplcal'' ... seriously. It's known for its palm trees ... seriously. Apparently the mountains are pretty close to the coast and rise very steeply. It's a very remote city, more than 20 hours by train from Moscow. It will be interesting to see how the Russians handle those Games and how challenged they will be by the sagging global economy. I imagine Putin will be strongarming lots of people to get everything in place.
For now, I'm just enjoying the fabulous pageant of Canadiana. With tongue firmly in cheek, they've filled a stage with giant moose balloons guided by lumberjacks; dancing Mounties; Quebecois voyageurs in birchbark canoes; giant table-hockey players on wheels chasing a little kid dressed like a puck; and Michael Buble crooning "The Maple Leaf Forever.'' Gotta love a country that is secure enough to laugh at itself and invite the rest of the world to share the fun. Thanks and au revoir!