The 2014 Winter Olympics will officially draw to a close on Sunday, with the closing ceremony in the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi, Russia.
These Olympics got off to a rather ignominious start, with multiple complaints from athletes and journalists about their living conditions. All of this despite Russia spending somewhere around $50 billion to transform Sochi into a city capable of hosting an event of this grand scale—the most ever spent on one Olympics.
Once the competition actually began, though, most of the ancillary storylines gave way to the athletes' performances. Sure there were some complaints about the course conditions in snowboarding, but that's par for the course, as you can find issues like this during any Games.
Over time, the 2014 Winter Olympics will likely be remembered fondly, and the organizers can accelerate that feeling of goodwill with an impressive closing ceremony. You always want to leave a great lasting impression.
When: Sunday, Feb. 23, at 11 a.m. ET
Where: Fisht Olympic Stadium, Sochi, Russia
Watch: NBC (tape-delayed at 8:30 p.m. ET)
Not much is known about how the closing ceremony will unfold.
Konstantin Ernst, who created the program for the opening ceremony, is the creative director for the finale as well. He did a great job of illustrating Russia's deep history through song and dance, providing plenty of cultural references as well.
Had it not been for that one snowflake, many would have considered it a nearly flawless program.
Danny Boyle's opening ceremony for the 2012 Summer Olympics set the bar for future Olympics to come, and while Boyle opted for a more self-effacing take, Ernst was more refined. He didn't quite reach the quality of London, but it was pretty darn close.
So the question is what Ernst has as a follow-up.
Minneapolis native Michael Shann is helping to produce the event; however, he remained tight-lipped when discussing the possible agenda for Sunday night's spectacle, per Rachel Blount of the Star Tribune in Minneapolis: "Details of the Closing Ceremony are as tightly guarded as a Russian state secret, but Shann said it will include nods to the country’s traditions in music, dance and circus arts."
The one thing that fans can count on seeing is the ceremonial handover to the next Winter Olympics host, which in this case is Pyeongchang, South Korea. Pyeongchang beat out Munich, Germany and Annecy, France for the honor.
Once this is done, the clock will be ticking on the South Korean city, and the country as a whole, to ensure that everything is in place four years from now. The biggest lesson to be learned from Sochi is that long-term planning is the best way to attack hosting the Olympics.
Saving everything for the last minute will only blow up in your face.
Jerry Ling, one of many South Korean Olympic officials, is doing his homework, as they've been in Sochi speaking with the Russian organizers to get a firsthand look at the logistics behind the Winter Olympics, 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.
Seeing the handover is always neat to watch, but it's yet another aspect of the closing ceremony that will likely be overshadowed by what promises to be a beautiful event saluting Russian culture. It's a great way to close the curtain on the 2014 Winter Olympics.