SBD/February 24, 2014/Olympics

Sochi Closing Ceremony Showcases Russian Pride, But Lacks Block-Party Atmosphere

Sochi's Closing Ceremony included a reference to the Opening Ceremony glitch
The '14 Sochi Games ended yesterday with a "sparkling closing ceremony infused with Russian pride," according to Anton Troianovski of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. An "upside-down village reminiscent of Marc Chagall paintings floated over the arena while Schnittke's 'Polka' played." Pianist Denis Matsuev "performed Rachmaninoff surrounded by 248 performers dancing around 62 other pianos." There was "less bombast than the Feb. 7 opening ceremony and a few more intimate performances." Russia President Vladimir Putin "didn't speak," but IOC President Thomas Bach "thanked him for his personal support in putting on the Games and lavished praise on the organizers of the most expensive Olympics in history" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/24). In N.Y., Sarah Lyall in a front-page piece writes the event was "often loud, sometimes elegant, sometimes flashy, sometimes bewildering." It "hustled people on and off the stage so rapidly that it was sometimes hard to catch why they had been there at all." Lyall: "There were references to Kandinsky and to Chagall. There was music by Rachmaninoff, Rubinstein and Vladimir Horowitz. There were ballet dancers. Huge banners depicting some of Russia’s greatest authors -- Tolstoy, Gogol, Dostoyevsky, the dissident writer Solzhenitsyn -- were displayed as people ran around waving books in the air" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/24). In DC, Kathy Lally notes the scene was "set in a vast library, and suddenly gales of wind blew through, sending manuscript pages into the whirlwind of Soviet persecution," as a "voice recited some of their words" (WASHINGTON POST, 2/24). In Utah, Amy Donaldson writes the ceremony was "an entertaining, quick-paced journey that also included a beautiful hand-off to PyeongChang, Korea, host of the 2018 Winter Games" (DESERET NEWS, 2/24).

FROM START TO FINISH: In Minneapolis, Rachel Blount writes a country "typically viewed as dour and humorless showed it can even laugh at itself." The show’s opening segment "featured dancers forming Olympic rings; in a reference to the much-discussed Opening Ceremony glitch, when one ring failed to unfold, the dancers created only four rings before adding the fifth to wild applause" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 2/24). The GLOBE & MAIL's Eric Reguly writes the Closing Ceremony was "somewhat of an improvement on the plodding opening version, which bogged down in the mud of the athletes' parade smack in the middle of the show." But this time, the "mid-show athletes' parade worked because the audience at the Fisht Olympic stadium were there to celebrate their new sporting heroes" (GLOBE & MAIL, 2/24). In Chicago, Stacy St. Clair writes though the Closing Ceremony typically takes on a "block-party atmosphere with athletes dancing and singing together, the Sochi athletes spent the majority of the event seated quietly in the stands as if attending a college lecture." They "only left their seats at the very end of the ceremony, when English-language pop music was pumped through the sound system and they were invited to dance on the stadium floor" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/24).
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