The XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi ended with a Closing Ceremony with Seamus O’Connor having the honour of carrying the Irish Flag into the Fisht Olympic stadium. The ceremony, which provided a bright and emotional conclusion to the Games, was dedicated to Russian culture. The audience was presented with a European vision of Russia, in a show directed by world-renowned director Daniele Finzi Pasca who became the screenwriter and director of the Sochi Olympics Closing Ceremony after joining the Russian team, which also included creative director Konstantin Ernst and executive producer Andrei Nasonovskiy.
“In order to present our culture objectively we decided to look at it through a European perspective, through the eyes of a man born in the very heart of Europe: prominent director Daniele Finzi Pasca. We wanted to see how Russian culture reflects in the world art context and which part of Russian culture has already become an integral part of world culture”, Konstantin Ernst said.
The Closing Ceremony featured such world-renowned Russian stars, as Sochi 2014 Ambassador, conductor and violinist Yuri Bashmet, Sochi 2014 Ambassador and conductor Valery Gergiev, pianist Denis Matsuev, singer Hibla Gerzmava and violinist Tatiana Samouil, as well as artists from the Bolshoi and Mariinsky theaters.
“This is the most ambitious Closing Ceremony in the history of Winter Olympic Games. Over 7,000 people took part in the performance, including a children’s choir hailing from 83 different regions in Russia, and more than 43,000 scenic elements were produced and an incredible mobile stage system was used. We wanted to show all the possibilities of the largest theater in the world,” said Andrei Nasonovskiy.
In the show’s finale, the Polar Bear, one of the mascots of the Games, put out the Olympic Flame to a remix of Aleksandra Pakhmutova’s song Goodbye, Moscow. This symbolic moment reminded spectators of the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, and brought together Olympic generations. The Closing Ceremony ended with a spectacular fireworks show and an exciting party hosted by DJ Kto.
Concept of the Closing Ceremony
The Closing Ceremony of the Olympic Games in Sochi presented “Reflections of Russia”, which described the cultural heritage of the country.
Spectators were accompanied on this journey by the little girl Lyubov (“Love”), who many are familiar with from the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi Olympic Games, as well as by her friends Yura and Valentina.
The storyline of the Ceremonies referred to Russia’s rich cultural heritage, which is reflected in works of art, music, ballet, literature and circus art. The performance consisted of 14 chapters, each of which was a show in itself.
During the ceremony, the best sporting moments were displayed on the screens of the Fisht Stadium, enabling the audience to once again experience the emotions athletes and fans were overwhelmed with.
The main decor element of the Games was a LED “forest”, which consisted of 204 12-meter high light tubes. If all the tubes used for the ceremony were placed in a row, they would form a line of almost 1.5 miles long. Throughout the entire show, the tubes changed color. The spectators in the stadium were also able to participate in the creation of the incredibly colorful picture of the Ceremony – before it began, they were given LED medallions to wear, which shimmered with different colors.
Participants of the Closing Ceremony
The leading performers included conductor and violinist, and Sochi 2014 Ambassador Yuri Bashmet, conductor and Sochi 2014 Ambassador Valery Gergiev, pianist Denis Matsuev, singer Hibla Gerzmava and violinist Tatiana Samouil, as well as artists from the Bolshoi and Mariinsky theaters.
Along with world-class stars, children from all over Russia took part in the Olympic Games Closing Ceremony. The National Anthem was performed by 1,000 children participants of the All-Russian joint choir directed by Valery Gergiev. Young classical musicians who were part of the First All-Russian Youth Symphony Orchestra directed by maestro Yuri Bashmet accompanied the dancers. 120 young circus artists demonstrated their skills along with professional circus performers.
More than 4,000 volunteers aged 6 to 43 also took part in the Ceremony, many of them residents of the Krasnodar Region.
Chapters of the Closing Ceremony
The Ceremony started with a countdown, with the numbers appearing on the screens above the stands. When the scoreboard hit “zero”, a LED forest in the center of the arena exploded into bright colors and a volley of fireworks illuminated the stadium roof.
On the first chapter, “The Sky and the Sea”, Lyubov, together with the ceremony’s main characters, invited the audience on a magical journey. Together, they reflected on the past few days, and thought of the athletes who had made the Games so memorable, before turning to the more distant past and paying tribute to the rich cultural heritage of Russia. 700 actors dressed in mirror-like costumes created a choreographic composition with waves, shapes of giant sea creatures, and symbols of stars and infinity. The pattern gradually took the shape of the five Olympic rings.
The Russian flag was then carried to the stage to be raised, and the All-Russian Choir rose from their seats behind the ceremonial stage, mirroring Russia’s contours on the world map and, conducted by the world-famous conductor Sochi 2014 Ambassador Valery Gergiev, performed the national anthem of the Russian Federation. At this time, the Russian flag was raised.
2,856 athletes representing 88 National Olympic Committees and independent countries took part in the Parade of Nations, the traditional ending of the Olympic Games. Since 1956, during the Closing Ceremony parade, athletes do not parade in teams, but pass through the Stadium in mixed groups, symbolizing the unity of humanity.
Continuing the tradition of the Winter Games, the winners in the women’s 30 km cross-country skiing and men’s 50 km, held earlier in the day, were presented with their medals at the Fisht Olympic stadium.
The chapter “The World of Malevich, Kandinsky and Chagall” was dedicated to Russian art. Canvases by world famous artists, such as Chagall, Malevich and Kandinsky inspired the director in the design of the stage space and the design of the projection. All the spectators were immersed in a world of fantasy and aspiration for new horizons.
In the “Music” chapter, one of the most gifted pianists, Denis Matsuev, played Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto, and 62 performers circled his grand piano.
During the “Theater” chapter, a red and gold “Bolshoi” and a blue and gold “Mariinsky” theater appeared before the audience. 48 corps de ballet dancers were gradually joined by other characters from the Diaghilev Russian Ballet – Golden slave, Sobeide, Roseand The Dying Swan.
The dances were accompanied by mesmerizing music performed by the First All-Russian Youth Symphony Orchestra, which included the best young classical musicians, winners of a competition organized by Sochi 2014 Ambassador maestro Yuri Bashmet. The orchestra brought together 83 musicians aged 9 to 21 from 28 different Russian cities.
The next chapter, “Literature”, took guests of the Ceremony to the land of Russian literature, with Russian poets and writers laboring over their desks in offices: Alexander Pushkin, Lev Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Nikolai Gogol, Ivan Turgenev, Anton Chekhov, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Anna Akhmatova, Marina Tsvetaeva, Joseph Brodsky, Mikhail Bulgakov and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. The audience were presented with characters from such classic literary works as War and Peace, Three Sisters, The Master and Margarita, Idiot and The Government Inspector.
“Circus” completed the Russian culture chapter, with more than 200 professional performers and 120 students from circus schools all over Russia demonstrating their skills in six circus arenas.
Flag Handover Ceremony to the host city of the next winter Games, the city of PyeongChang
As per tradition in the Closing Ceremony, the handover of the Olympic flag to the next host city began with the raising of the Greek flag to the national Greek anthem, signifying a tribute to the country where the ancient Olympic Games were born.
The Olympic flag was lowered to the sound of the Olympic anthem. Anatoly Pakhomov, mayor of Sochi, handed it to Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee, who in turn handed the flag to the mayor of the city of PyeongChang, Seok Rae Lee. Following the tradition, each mayor then waved the flag four times, before the flag was taken away.
Then the Aegukka [“Patriotic Song”], the national anthem of the Republic of Korea, which will be the next country to host the Winter Games, was played. The anthem was performed by a boy and a girl as the Korean national flag was being raised.
After that, PyeongChang, the 2018 Winter Olympics capital, was presented to the audience and the spectators then saw fragments of the five-millennium old Korean history. During the presentation, the sounds of a gayageum, a traditional Korean musical instrument, were heard.
The Closing of the Olympic Games of 2014 in Sochi
A few minutes later Dmitry Chernyshenko, President of the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee and Thomas Bach, IOC President went onto the ceremonial stage to deliver their speeches devoted to the closing of the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
The culmination of the Ceremony was the extinguishing of the Olympic Flame. The Sochi 2014 mascots, the Polar Bear, the Hare and the Leopard, as well as Lyubov, Yura and Valya, crossed the frozen sea on skis, skates and a snowboard in search of the Olympic flame. After a short while, the travelers came to a mirrored wall and found that the flame was hidden in a block of ice, its reflection dancing in the mirror.
After 16 days of exciting sporting events and festive atmosphere, it was time for the Olympic flame to be extinguished. The Polar Bear blew out the flame at the stadium, prompting the flame in the Olympic Park to die out. The flame was extinguished to the sounds of a remix of Eduard Artemyev’s and Aleksandra Pakhmutova’s famous “Goodbye, Moscow!” song. This emblematic moment reminded spectators of the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, symbolizing the connection between the Olympic generations.
At the end of the ceremony, the Polar Bear, the Leopard and the Hare were joined by nearly 3,000 children with mimosa branches in their hands, turning the stadium into a yellow blooming meadow.
The Closing Ceremony ended with a fireworks show and a vibrant party with DJ Kto.