1 Mar 2010

Curtain falls on Excellent and Friendly Vancouver Winter Olympics

6:25 pm on 1 March 2010

The Vancouver Winter Olympics has closed in spectacular fashion with a closing ceremony that mixed traditional pomp with self-effacing humour and put the icing on 17 days of unrelenting drama and action.

The President of the International Olympic Committee Jacques Rogge declared the Games excellent and very friendly in a closing speech that also paid tribute to the Georgian luger who was killed in a training accident on the day of the Opening Ceremony.

Michael J. Fox and William Shatner mocked their countrymen's penchant for politeness while giant inflatable beavers and moose joined in a game of hockey that took an irreverent view of the country's obsession with the sport.

There were some more sombre moments.

The figure skater Joannie Rochette carried Canada's flag after winning a bronze despite still griving the sudden death of her mother

Millions of Canadians had already begun celebrating long before the closing ceremony began after the host-nation defeated the United States 3-2 in a heart-stopping end to the men's ice hockey competition to capture a record 14th gold medal.

Canada were already assured of finishing top of the standings for the first time at either a Winter or Summer Olympics but beating their American neighbours was the perfect ending for the hockey-crazy host nation.

The Canadian victory set a new record for golds won at a single Winter Games, surpassing the previous mark of 13 jointly held by the Soviet Union and Norway.

The U.S. also set a record for the most overall medals at a single Winter Olympics, finishing with 37, one more than Germany in 2002.