So Long, Sochi

The 2014 Olympic Winter Games come to a close

Feb 24, 2014 | By Cameron Keady with TIME and AP Reporting
JOHN BERRY—GETTY IMAGES

A giant rabbit, polar bear, and leopard bid goodbye after the Olympic flame is extinguished at the Closing Ceremony in Sochi.

The Olympic torch’s flame has gone out. Sunday night marked the conclusion of the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. The host country came out on top, with 13 gold medals and 33 medals overall. The United States took home nine gold medals, and a total of 28 medals overall.

 
Fireworks explode over Olympic Park during the Closing Ceremony on February 23.
AL BELLO—GETTY IMAGES
Fireworks explode over Olympic Park during the Closing Ceremony on February 23.

A Colorful Closing

The 17-day competition ended with a festive closing ceremony at Fisht Olympic Stadium. The performances celebrated the talent and dedication of the hundreds of athletes from around the world who took part, as well as Russia’s rich history of music, art and literature. Faces of famous Russian authors were projected onto large screens. Performers wearing puffy white wigs pushed 62 pianos in a dance around the stadium floor. Dancers moved across the stage in a traditional Russian ballet. And a giant mechanical bear, one of Sochi’s mascots for the past two weeks, lumbered onto the stage to put out the torch’s flame. It even shed a tear as it bid Sochi goodbye.

Medal Count

While 2014 was not a spectacular year for American athletes, Team USA had good reason to celebrate. The U.S. placed fourth in gold medals, and second place in overall medals. Though that was fewer than the U.S. took home at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games, there were plenty of performances that made this year’s Olympics memorable for Americans.

Mikaela Shiffrin was responsible for one of those memorable moments. On February 21, the 18-year-old became the youngest athlete to ever win an Olympic slalom gold medal. “Today was one of the most special days of my life,” she said following her win.

Partners Meryl Davis and Charlie White became the first Americans to win gold in the ice dancing event, after skating together for 17 years. And snowboarders Sage Kostenburg and Jamie Anderson each won gold in the Olympic debuts of, respectively, men’s and women’s slopestyle.

Though the 2014 Winter Olympics are over, Sochi is preparing to welcome a whole new wave of athletes. The Paralympic Winter Games will run from March 7 to 16, giving athletes with disabilities a chance to compete.