Only days remain before the curtain closes on Sochi, Russia, and the 2014 Winter Olympics. It seems like just yesterday that everybody was complaining about unfinished hotels and nonpotable water.
As bad as things were to start, the event itself has largely gone off without a hitch. There were some complaints about the conditions for the halfpipe and questions about the judging for figure skating, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a single Olympics where some athlete didn't complain about some sort of course/field condition. Plus, rumors of crooked judging is as old as the Olympics.
Over time, the 2014 Winter Olympics will likely be remembered fondly. All of the problems before the events started will likely become a footnote and secondary to what actually happened.
All in all, the last few weeks have been a lot of fun, and it's a shame it's nearly all over already.
Until Sunday, though, there's still a little bit of time to relish the moment. Once the closing ceremony is over, though, that's all she wrote.
When: Sunday, Feb. 23, at 11 a.m. ET
Where: Fisht Olympic Stadium, Sochi, Russia
Watch: NBC (replay shown at 8:30 p.m. ET)
What to Watch
How Will Russia Top the Opening Ceremony?
For the most part, the opening ceremony is the bigger spectacle. After all, it is supposed to be the curtain-raiser for the entire Olympics, and you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Having an extravagant opening ceremony can set the stage for a thrilling month of competition.
The closing ceremony, on the other hand, is a great way to put a button on the Olympics and send fans a lasting image of the event.
For the opening ceremony, creative director Konstantin Ernst opted for an opulent scale, recounting Russia's history and putting some of their best cultural innovations on display.
How Ernst follows that up will be interesting to see.
Parade of Athletes
Some Olympians have already headed home. You can't blame them, either. Once you're done competing, it's only natural to want to be back and celebrating with your friends.
For those who stuck around, the closing ceremony is a last chance to bask in the glory that is the Olympics. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many athletes, so they'll want to wring each and every second out of the experience that they can.
Some, including the United States' Julie Chu, though, have been here plenty of times before. The 31-year-old helped the U.S. women's hockey team earn silver in what was her fourth Winter Olympics.
This time is a little different. Chu was selected by her peers to be the flag bearer on Sunday.
"I’m completely humbled and kind of in shock. I never imagined that this would happen, especially knowing how strong the U.S. delegation is," she said, per TeamUSA.org's Amanda Manci. "Our team has so many inspiring athletes who I’ve gotten a chance to root for. This is special and I don’t take it lightly."
For Chu and those who will carry the flags of their countries, the closing ceremony will be the biggest highlight of Sochi.
The Handover to Pyeongchang
As Sochi's time in the spotlight ends, the microscope on Pyeongchang, South Korea, will only grow. The city hosts the 2018 Winter Olympics, and the official handover will take place during the closing ceremony:
Today marks 3 days to go until PyeongChang becomes the host city of the next Olympic Winter Games! pic.twitter.com/TYDxZJBd1a— PyeongChang 2018 (@2018PyeongChang) February 20, 2014
Given the amount of problems Russia faced in the weeks leading up to these Olympics, it's never too early for South Korea and the city of Pyeongchang to get things done.
Jerry Ling, member of the 2018 Olympic committee, has been in Sochi to learn everything he can from what has gone right and what has gone wrong in the past months and years, per the Associated Press (via The Salt Lake Tribune):
Ling said the Koreans were finding their trip to Russia very helpful as they study best practices and try to ready themselves for their turn in the spotlight. It will be the first Winter Games in Korea and a chance for a city to introduce itself to the rest of the world.
They brought 154 people to Sochi to examine all aspects of the games.
For many of the athletes and journalists that helped make #SochiProblems one of the biggest talking points of the Olympics, the event can't be handed over to Pyeongchang soon enough.