The Olympic Torch is Extinguished
Las Vegas came to Salt Lake City Sunday night, with razzle-dazzle taking centerstage as athletes and spectators -- The New York Times numbered the crowd to be 44,929 -- bid farewell to the XIXth Winter Olympic Games. Athletes from all 78 nations marched into Rice-Eccles Stadium and then took their seats to watch the closing-night ceremony with the others. And what a show they got. 'N Sync sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" and two-time Olympic skating champion Katarina Witt ice-danced to the heavy metal of KISS, before Bon Jovi's "It's My Life" cued the biggest pyrotechnic display in American history, reports Reuters. Some 10,000 shells (including eight 24-inch howitzers, considered the Big Berthas of the fireworks world) zoomed into the Utah sky in a 4-1/2 minute display that spread out from the stadium and into the Salt Lake Valley. Helium balloons, huge white beach balls and canisters of fluorescent pastel paints dumped onto the ice all figured into the displays, as did a performance by Earth, Wind & Fire and a surprise guest, Willie Nelson, who sang a soulful rendition of Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water." "Olympians, volunteers, spectators, we will never forget these 17 days -- we did it," Mitt Romney, president of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee, told the crowd. In his speech, Romney alluded to the major talking point of the Games: a judging scandal that culminated with Canadian figure skaters Jamie Sale and David Pelletier being awarded belated duplicate gold medals alongside Russian pair Anton Sikharuldize and Yelena Berezhnaya. The mayor of Salt Lake City also passed the Olympic flag to the mayor of Torino, Italy, where the next winter games will take place, in 2006, and the Olympic flame was extinguished.
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