|Athletes march through a village during closing ceremonies for the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games in Whistler on Sunday, March 21. (REUTERS/Andy Clark)
WHISTLER - Canada’s Games are both history after a torch was literally passed to Russia at the 2010 Winter Paralympics closing ceremony Sunday night.
Three weeks since the Vancouver Olympics ended and 10 days after the Paralympics began, a group of six local youths lit a torch from the cauldron in Whistler Medals Plaza and handed it to six youths representing Sochi 2014. Kelowna, B.C.‘s Andrew Allen sang his ballad “Amazing” while images of the Paralympics flashed on the screen.
Cauldrons here and in downtown Vancouver were extinguished but fireworks and floodlights lit up the sky above the mountainside resort to end Vancouver’s Winter Games period.
Winnipeg singer/songwriter Chantal Kreviazuk and Nunavut throat singer Tanya Tagaq set the tone for the 90-minute pageant. The crowd of more than 7,000 gasped when two-time Paralympic wheelchair racer Kelly Smith of Vancouver left his wheelchair and was thrown high above the crowd before he was caught in a traditional Inuit blanket toss.
Saskatoon cross-country skier Colette Bourgonje and Japanese sledge hockey captain Endo Takayuki of Japan were awarded the special Whang Youn Dai achievement gold medals by International Paralympic Committee president Sir Philip Craven who declared the 10th Winter Games for athletes with a disability over.
John Furlong, chief executive of the Vancouver organizing committee, spoke earlier than scheduled so he could fly to Georgia for a memorial honouring luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, who died Feb. 12 in a Whistler training crash.
Whistler Mayor Ken Melamed joined Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson to pass the Paralympic flag to Sochi Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov via Craven.
The Black Sea resort near the Caucasus mountains used the sounds of Tchaichovsky’s “Waltz of the Snowflakes” and images of a sand artist’s animation to accompany an onstage skating performance by Paralympic swimming champion Olesya Vladykina and Olympic figure skating champion Ilia Kulik.