An Olympics that began with the death of a luger ended tonight with an exuberant celebration of Canada, reflecting a determined comeback by the host country's organizers and athletes. A festive crowd of 60,000 jammed into BC Place Stadium for the closing ceremony, many of them Canadians abuzz over their men's hockey team's overtime victory hours earlier, which gave the host nation a Winter Olympics record of 14 gold medals. The mayor of Vancouver passed the Olympic flag to his counterpart from Sochi, Russia, the 2014 Winter Games host.
The gaiety contrasted sharply with the moment of silence at the opening ceremony Feb. 12 for Nodar Kumaritashvili, the 21-year-old luger killed in a crash that day. "These games started out with a nightmare and ended up with a golden dream," said an IOC member from Australia. Canadian officials selected figure skater Joannie Rochette as flagbearer. Her mother died last Sunday, but Rochette chose to carry on and won a bronze medal. "It's been a tough week for me," she said. "But I walk tonight into that stadium with a big smile on my face. I accomplished my goals, and I want to celebrate with my teammates."