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Russia’s surprising success at Sochi Games to be honoured at closing ceremonies

Fireworks light up the sky above the Sochi Olympic Park after the light of the Olympic Cauldron February 7, 2014 after the opening ceremony.

John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

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The Sochi Olympics closing ceremonies promise to be another celebration of Russian culture, but it's bound instead to evolve into a thunderous national romp in honour of Russia's huge – and surprising – success at the Games.

By Sunday morning, local time, with a couple of competitions to go, Russia was well on top of the medal heap, with 32, of which 12 were gold. A late surge – including three medals in the men's 50km cross country race – made Russia unassailable on the last day of competition. The tally more than makes up for its athletes miserable showing in Vancouver in 2010.

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Traditionally, Olympic closing ceremonies are parties that go light on technology and choreography and heavy on pop music and noise, as London's was two years ago. Sochi's creative director for the opening and closing ceremonies at Sochi, Konstantin Ernst, gave the impression that his closing will be more structured. It might be for a while, but when Russian athletes take the stage, the house may come down.

Ernst did not stint on the closing ceremonies, to be held in Fisht stadium. He recruited Italy's Daniele Fini Pasca, the creative force behind the fiery and fun closing ceremonies of the 2006 Turin games, to give the show momentum and flare. "We want to look at [Russian] culture through the eyes of a European," he said at a press conference.

His comment suggests that the ceremonies will ditch the blow-by-blow history review seen in the somewhat lacklustre opening ceremonies and take a "Hollywood" approach – Pasca's description – to some of the cheerier bits of Russian culture.

Pasca and Ernst did not provide a lot of details about the content of the ceremonies, which begin at 8:14pm local time, but there will be some carry over from the opening show. Lubov, the young Russian girl seen in the opening, will reappear as she threads her way through Russian culture.

One of the highlights will be a youth choir composed of 1,000 kids from 83 regions across Russia.

Russian ballet, fireworks and handover of the Olympic flag to the host of the 2018 Games, to Pyeongchang, South Korea, will be prominent parts of the ceremonies. Canadian gold medalist bobsledders Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse will carry the Canadian flag in the athletes' parade. But the audience won't much care about them; the closing ceremonies will be the Russian athletes' show.

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About the Author
European Columnist

Eric Reguly is the European columnist for The Globe and Mail and is based in Rome. Since 2007, when he moved to Europe, he has primarily covered economic and financial stories, ranging from the euro zone crisis and the bank bailouts to the rise and fall of Russia's oligarchs and the merger of Fiat and Chrysler. More

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