|Confetti fly over the national flags of South Korea, left, and Greece during the closing ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. The Greek flag is raised to honor the origins of the Olympic Games and South Korea will host the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. (AP-Yonhap)|
The 2014 Winter Olympic Games in the Black Sea resort town of Sochi drew to a conclusion on Sunday, as the host Russia rediscovered its dominance on snow and ice.
The closing ceremony took place at Fisht Olympic Stadium, the same site of the opening ceremony for the 17-day winter sports extravaganza.
Under the slogan "Hot, Cool, Yours," the Sochi Olympics brought together nearly 3,000 athletes from a Winter Games record 88 countries, who competed for 98 gold medals in 15 disciplines in seven sports.
Russia led all nations with 13 gold medals and 33 medals in total, topping the Winter Olympics medal table for the first time since 1994. It was a nifty turnaround for a country that was held to only three gold medals in Vancouver in 2010.
Five of Russia's 13 gold medals were won by athletes born outside of Russia. South Korean-born Viktor Ahn grabbed three short track titles while the American-native Vic Wild won two gold medals in men's snowboard.
South Korea had its largest Winter Olympics delegation ever with 71 athletes, competing in every sport except for ice hockey.
It came up just short of its stated objective of winning four gold medals for a top-10 finish in the medals. With three gold medals -- one by speed skater Lee Sang-hwa and two by short tracker Park Seung-hi -- along with three silver and two bronze medals, South Korea ended in 13th place.
South Korean athletes will have more to look forward to at the next Winter Games in 2018, which will be held on their home ground in PyeongChang.
The east coast alpine town will stage South Korea's first Winter Games. The Olympic Flag switched hands during the closing ceremony, as Anatoly Pakhomov, mayor of Sochi, presented the symbolic baton to his PyeongChang counterpart, Lee Seok-rae. The flag will be kept in PyeongChang over the next four years.
During the closing ceremony, PyeongChang had the center stageto itself for the eight-minute long performance entitled "A Journey Together" reflected PyeongChang's hope of bringing the world together at the Olympics. Yoon Ho-jin, executive director of the performance, said the show offered a modern interpretation of South Korea's traditional cultural heritage, and showcased the country's unique beauty and its potential for globalization.
Sochi put together a costly Olympics with a reported budget of US$51 billion, having had to build the majority of the venues from scratch. Sochi organizers were criticized for construction delays.
The warm weather, which prompted some cross-country skiers to compete in shorts, also didn't help.
PyeongChang, on the other hand, has completed many of its venues. It won the bid to host the Winter Gam in its third try, and began building Olympic venues several years ago for its earlier bids. PyeongChang officials say it would cost around $2 billion to stage the Olympics in 2018, with an additional $7 billion for infrastructure, including a high-speed railway connecting Seoul and PyeongChang. (Yonhap)