Posted: February 23, 2014
After 17 days of the world's highest-level competition in winter sports, Sochi puts on one last extravaganza to mark the end of the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Pyrotechnics explode over dancers formed into the Olympic rings during the closing ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics on Sunday. David J. Phillip
Team Brazil athletes join the closing parade. The competitors' next stop: South Korea in 2018. Paul Gilham
U.S. athletes' outfits are a step up from their opening ceremony digs. NPR's Tamara Keith tweets: "Ugly Christmas sweaters replaced by tasteful blue and red coats." Ryan Pierse
Pyrotechnics explode over dancers formed into the Olympic rings during the closing ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics, on Sunday. David J. Phillip
This post was last updated at 1:40 p.m. ET.
The torch has officially been passed. The 22nd Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, are over with all the drama in the competition and not over safety and security during the 17 days of the events, as many had feared.
Outdoor fireworks rattled Sochi's Fisht Stadium as the Olympic flame was set to be extinguished Sunday. Winners and losers in the international competition now will have to look east to South Korea to test their Olympic mettle in the contest for medals four years from now, in 2018.
NPR's Tamara Keith tweeted from the stadium at 12:50 p.m. ET: "Official handoff to South Korea, host of the 2018 Winter Olympics has now happened. It will be colder there, for sure."
As the closing ceremony began, waves were projected on the bottom of the stadium as costumed dancers undulated like schools of fish through the stadium.
In a reference to the now-famous hang-fire when the last Olympic ring failed to ignite in the opening ceremony two weeks ago, Tamara says:
"Russia has a sense of humor. Glowing silver people form Olympic Rings with sad snowflake unopened. Then open it to laughter and applause."
The Associated Press called it "a moment of self-deprecating humor."
"A group of 700 dancers formed the five Olympic rings but, but delayed forming the fifth ring in a humorous nod to a pyrotechnic glitch during the opening ceremony. The crowd roared when the dancers spread apart to form the fully-shaped ring."
NPR's Vicki Walton says the performance involves 120 cast members, "including 10 brides suspended from clouds and 41 stilt walkers and jumpers."
With Russian President Vladimir Putin in attendance, the Olympic flag was raised and the Russian flag was carried in by some of the most successful Olympiads to the strains of the host country's national anthem, sung by a massive children's choir.
"Tonight the Olympic flame will be extinguished, bringing the games to a close, but the memories and friendships made at Sochi 2014 will live on," literature distributed to journalists for the closing ceremony reads.
"American closing ceremony outfits are a vast improvement. Ugly Christmas sweaters replaced by tasteful blue and red coats.
"Canada has awesome outfits...again. Wool ball caps. Red, black and white jackets. Gold medals also a nice accessory.
The final medal ceremony, for the men's 50 cross-country, skiing event, was appropriately a gold for Russia and was greeted with the familiar "Russ-eee-ahh" chants from the crowd.
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