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Winter Olympic Closing Ceremony Held In Sochi


Russia put on a spectacular closing show for the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi last night, with fireworks, Russian music and dance, and a thousand children singing Russia's national anthem. As always, the games were full of the sort of drama and surprises that make them one of the world's great spectacles.

Sonari Glinton is about to turn out the lights in NPR's Sochi bureau, but before he does, let's get the low-down from him about the two-plus weeks of competition.

And, Sonari, there were a lot of concerns going into these games about whether Russia would be ready, whether the buildings would be ready, venues, and also terrorism and security. After all of that, what? I mean the games seem to have come off quite well.

SONARI GLINTON, BYLINE: Yes, they did come off well; there were no major incidents. The bar was set incredibly low for this Olympics and the Russians sort of jumped over it. You know, all the venues were in tip top shape even down to the ice. There were a couple of little snow problems up in the mountains. But other than that everything sort of went well. But the devil is in the details. There were problems with stray dogs roughing around town. There were some hotel problems with the, you know, cranky journalists when we got here that their hotels weren't finished.

But this was a great visuals. And there was also a lot of concern, on the Russian part, about customer service, so they worked really hard on customer service skills. And one of my favorite parts of the Olympics and the closing ceremonies was, as everyone was leaving, the volunteers formed a high five line on the way out the doors.

MONTAGNE: Well, let's get down to bronze, silver and gold. The Russians in the end - slow start - but they won the medal count.

GLINTON: Yeah, they got 13 golds and 33 medals overall. So they were the kings. Norway, they got 11 golds and 26, followed by Canada with 10 goals and 25, and the U.S. was in fourth place even though we sent the most athletes to these games. But this sort of - the Russian win, which is if you look through the medals, it's kind of all through the sports from long track to skiing, to all of the sports. They sort of hit almost every event and did well - something the Americans wish they had done.

MONTAGNE: And who were the standouts in these games?

GLINTON: The standouts were the Dutch. I mean they were - they conquered speed skating, 23 medals. And that shows that you can rebuild a team in four years. I mean the Dutch were nowhere near as dominant in speed skating before, and they sort of thought about it. They went, regrouped and they built their programs up from the bottom. And that was at the demise of the U.S. team which got zero medals in long track speed skating.

And there was sort of the sense amongst the skaters of American hubris. And that's, sort of, not only in the sport but in some of the other sports, that America came in thinking that they were going to dominate the games. And they sort of didn't dot every I and cross every T. They didn't do everything that they were supposed to do. And the good thing is there is four years anyone can make it up. And we can look forward to the next Winter Olympics in South Korea, and maybe the Americans can be the first on the leaderboard.

MONTAGNE: Sonari, thanks during much. Have a good trip home.

GLINTON: Thank you so much, Renee.

MONTAGNE: Sonari Glinton was a part of NPR's Olympic team, along with Tamara Keith, Robert Smith and Cory Flintoff.



(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.