Only hours remain until the curtain officially drops on the 2014 Winter Olympics, and Sochi, Russia, will look to make a lasting impression with the closing ceremony.
Things started off with a bang in Sochi, as the Russian city presented a beautiful opening ceremony that celebrated the country's history with a perfect mixture of song, dance and cultural interludes. Creative director Konstantin Ernst put on a great show, even with that one rogue snowflake.
With the closing ceremony, it's likely that Ernst will go a more subdued route, as it's nearly impossible to top what the fans saw on Feb. 7.
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)
As was the case with the opening ceremony, American viewers will be unable to watch the closing ceremony live. NBC has determined that tape-delaying is the way to go with all of the high-profile events.
Although the closing ceremony takes place at 11 a.m. on the East Coast, NBC won't be showing the event until 8:30 p.m. ET. The network is streaming the event through NBC Olympics Live Extra, but unless you have Comcast, you'll still be out of luck.
In terms of what to expect, the plan for the closing ceremony remains under wraps. Michael Shann, a veteran American producer, is in Sochi to help with the event, and he offered little to Rachel Blount of the Star Tribune in Minneapolis.
She wrote, "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."
Ernst did reveal a little to Russian television station Channel One.
"To portray our culture in the most objective way, we decided to look at it through the eyes of a European," he said, per RIA Novosti (via The Hollywood Reporter). "[We will look at it] through the eyes of a person born in the very center of Europe, renowned theater director Daniele Finzi Pasca. [The ceremony] is to be low-key, art-house but, I hope, interesting."
Should Ernst opt to tone down the closing ceremony from the more opulent opener, it would provide a nice contrast and a fitting conclusion to the Winter Olympics.
You can expect to see the parade of athletes, a ceremony which will be the last time many of them take part in any sort of Olympic event.
Carrying the flag for the closing ceremony is one of the biggest honors an Olympic athlete can receive.
Women's ice hockey star Julie Chu got the nod for the United States. She was caught off guard when she heard the news of her flag-bearer duties, per Amanda Manci of TeamUSA.org:
"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," Chu said. "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."
Another of the events you can pencil in is the official handover of the Winter Olympics to the next host, which in this case is Pyeongchang, South Korea. The city will have a lot to learn from what went wrong in Sochi, and it's likely the Russian organizers can't wait until the clock is officially ticking on Pyeongchang to get everything in order for 2018.
Although some American viewers may be turned off by the idea of having to wait to watch the closing ceremony, it will almost certainly be worth it, as Sochi attempts to tie a ribbon on the 2014 Winter Olympics.
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