Games Over: Vancouver Extinguishes Olympic Flame The Vancouver Winter Olympics closed Sunday night with a ceremony celebrating the home country — quirks and all. It was one big indoor party with 60,000 people, including 2,600 athletes attending. International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge said they were "excellent and very friendly games."
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Games Over: Vancouver Extinguishes Olympic Flame

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Games Over: Vancouver Extinguishes Olympic Flame

Games Over: Vancouver Extinguishes Olympic Flame

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RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

Unidentified Man: Okay, Canada, let me hear you scream.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERS)

MONTAGNE: The closing ceremony of the Vancouver Winter Games was one big indoor party, with 60,000 people, including 2,600 athletes. And before the partying began, there were the standard Olympic rituals, as NPR's Howard Berkes reports.

HOWARD BERKES: The music was already playing when the closing ceremony officially began.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

BERKES: Vancouver Olympic CEO John Furlong tried to address that.

JOHN FURLONG: To the people of Georgia, we are so sad and so sorry for your loss. Your unimaginable grief is shared by every Canadian and all those who have gathered here. And may the legacy of your favorite son, Nodar Kumaritashvili, never be forgotten and serve to inspire youth everywhere to be champions in life.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERS)

BERKES: Furlong mentioned the weather challenges while thanking the blue-jacketed Olympic workforce, especially those who managed to haul and fly snow to Cypress Mountain, then keep it all from melting, despite warmth and heavy rain.

FURLONG: You took on a stubborn mountain with all your might. The final result: Blue Jackets: one, Cypress Mountain weather: zero.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERS)

BERKES: Weather delayed events at the Whistler ski venues. And there also was trouble with the ice at the speed skating oval. But the snow and ice shows did go on, eventually. Still, organizers may have been holding a collective breath when International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge took to the podium to give his assessment.

JACQUES ROGGE: BERKES Rogge's predecessor used the phrase best ever when describing the other Winter Games in Canada in Calgary in 1988, but Rogge avoids that phrase.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERS)

ROGGE: And now, in accordance with tradition, I declare the 21st Olympic Winter Games closed.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERS)

BERKES: And some in the crowd cried no. But right on schedule, Neil Young came out singing, as fake snow fell, and the Olympic flame died out.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

BERKES: Howard Berkes, NPR News, Vancouver.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

NEIL YOUNG: (singing) We've been through some...

MONTAGNE: This is NPR News.

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