Flushed with pride, Russia celebrated just 17 days of the most expensive Olympics yet. On Sunday the farewell show ended, handing off the Winter Games to their next host, Pyeongchang in South Korea.
Spectators chanted as they were surrounded by multi-colored fireworks ad carried through a surrealistic panorama of Russian history and culture. “This is the new face of Russia — our Russia,” said Dmitry Chernyshenko, head of the Sochi organizing committee. He called the games “a moment to cherish and pass on to the next generations.”
The Sochi organizers made a joke on their expense at the ceremony, forming dancers into four rings. This was a call to their technical glitch in the February 7th opening ceremony, when one of the five Olympic rings failed to open.
The nations $51 billion investment—topping Beijing’s estimated $40 billion layout in 2008 Summer Games—transformed a decaying resort town to a household name. While security was a potential problem going it, it appeared to be a big success coming out: Feared attacks by Islamic militants didn’t materialize on threats.
Russia’s athletes topped the Sochi medals table, both in golds and total — 33. That represented a huge turnaround from the 2010 Vancouver Games. There, a meager 3 golds and 15 total for Russia seemed proof of its gradual decline as a winter sports power since Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Russia’s bag of Sochi gold was the biggest-ever haul by a non-Soviet team.