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Vancouver bids Olympics farewell

Winter Olympic flame

Flame goes out on Vancouver Games

The Vancouver Winter Olympics drew to a spectacular close on Sunday after 17 days of intense competition.

Canada topped the medal table, with 14 golds, seven silvers and five bronze medals, while the United States won the most medals with 37 overall.

Amy Williams clinched skeleton gold to win Britain's only medal at the Games.

Olympic chief Jacques Rogge said: "This extraordinary embrace by the entire city is something unique and has given a great atmosphere for these Games."

The closing ceremony began with the comedic emergence of the Olympic flame's fourth ice crystal leg, which had failed to appear during the opening ceremony.

The show, which lasted more than two hours, featured the likes of Canadian actors William Shatner and Michael J. Fox poking fun at their country in a self-deprecating manner.

The Games, which featured 2500 athletes from 82 competing nations, had begun in the worst possible way with the death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili.

The 21-year-old was killed when his sled flipped and he hit a steel pole during a training run on the much criticised, high-speed Whistler Sliding Centre track.

Amy Williams

GB's Williams slides to skeleton gold

Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, admitted the death of Kumaritashvili had hit him hard, before going on to praise the efforts of the Games organisers who battled unseasonably warm, wet weather and a resulting lack of snow.

"It is clear that the death cannot leave you indifferent," said Rogge.

"It hit me very strongly from a personal point of view. I didn't sleep for two consecutive nights.

"In my profession (Rogge is a doctor) you are used to seeing people pass away, but for acceptable reasons - disease, age.

"But when you see a young athlete pursuing his dream at the Olympic Games end in such an accident, it hurts.

"I'm sure no-one will forget (the death), but you have to be fair to Canadians, to the athletes and the organisers and to judge the Games on their own merit without forgetting what happened before.

"The Games began with teething pains but I commend VANOC (Vancouver Organising Committee) for rapidly correcting that and from then on things went extremely well.

"So in all, I can say that the IOC is happy with the Games."

It took until day three, but when Alexandre Bilodeau won Canada's historic first home Olympic gold medal with his performance in the men's moguls, thousands of Canadians partied in the streets of Vancouver.

And the Canadians went on to become the most successful ever hosts of a Winter Olympics, thanks in part to their controversial 'Own The Podium' programme, which gave Canadian athletes more practice time at venues.

The men's ice hockey team provided a fairytale ending to the Games, with a 3-2 overtime victory over America to win the final gold medal in front of a wildly expectant crowd at Canada Hockey Place.

Elsewhere, American Shaun White lived up to his favourite's tag to retain his men's half-pipe title with the 23-year-old scoring 46.8 out of a possible 50, in a run which included his trademark double McTwist 1260.

The men's downhill, traditionally the blue ribbon event of the games, was won by Swiss skier Didier Defago, while Lindsey Vonn of the United States sealed the women's title.

After missing our four years ago, despite being tipped to win five medals, Bode Miller finally won gold.

The American became Olympic champion in the super-combined and completed his set with silver in the super-G.

Switzerland's Simon Ammann became the most successful ski jumper in Olympic history after winning his fourth individual gold, while Norway's Marit Bjoergen won two gold medals, taking the women's 15km pursuit after success in the women's 1.4km sprint classic and bronze in the 10km cross country.

America's Shaun White wins half-pipe gold

Half-pipe highlights - White soars to gold

The British team, which came home from Turin four years ago with only Shelly Rudman's skeleton silver, improved on that showing overall with Williams' gold.

But several medal prospects disappointed, with the men's curling team, the current world champions, one of them.

Britain failed to even reach the semi-finals of the event, eventually won by Canada, after a 7-6 play-off defeat by European champions Sweden.

The team, led by skip David Murdock described their exit as "heart-breaking".

Meanwhile, Britain's women's curling team, led by 19-year-old Eve Muirhead, also failed to make it to the semi-finals - with Sweden winning the gold medal.

And there was more frustration when world champion bobsleigh partnership Nicola Minichiello and Gillian Cooke crashed out on the third of their four runs - with the men's two-man and four-man teams also crashing out of contention.

The lack of medals won by Team GB, which consisted of 52 athletes, prompted Olympic legend Sir Steve Redgrave to suggest creating Britain's first long-track speed skating venue and housing other winter sports within it - an issue which may gather pace in the aftermath of the Games.

Learning lessons from Vancouver has been a key phrase from British officials throughout, not just in terms of sporting performance.

The national outpouring of support from the Canadian public has been noted, with the London 2012 organising committee (Locog) paying particularly close attention.

"The four 'S's we've identified - sport, service, stadia and sites - give us real food for thought and an added level of detail to our planning as we become the next taxi off the Olympic Games rank," said chairman Sebastian Coe

"Over the next two and a half years, we will use this information to ensure that we stage a Games for everyone in London."

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Latest medal standings

# Country Gold Silver Bronze Total
1. CAN 14 7 5 26
2. GER 10 13 7 30
3. USA 9 15 13 37
4. NOR 9 8 6 23
5. KOR 6 6 2 14
19. GBR 1 0 0 1

Full medal table

see also
Canada revel in record gold haul
28 Feb 10 |  Vancouver 2010
Team GB chiefs defend medal tally
25 Feb 10 |  Vancouver 2010
Williams slides to British gold
20 Feb 10 |  Skeleton
GB men's curlers out after defeat
25 Feb 10 |  Curling
GB women bow out with Canada loss
23 Feb 10 |  Curling
Gold for Canada as GB 1 crash out
25 Feb 10 |  Bobsleigh
Superb White dominates half-pipe
18 Feb 10 |  Snowboarding
Ski jump double for Swiss Ammann
20 Feb 10 |  Ski jumping
Miller secures first Olympic gold
21 Feb 10 |  Alpine skiing
Defago powers to downhill glory
15 Feb 10 |  Alpine skiing
Flawless Vonn seals downhill gold
17 Feb 10 |  Alpine skiing
What did we learn from Vancouver?
28 Feb 10 |  Vancouver 2010
Redgrave plans winter sports base
25 Feb 10 |  Vancouver 2010
Olympic luger dies after crashing
13 Feb 10 |  Luge
Olympics open after luge tragedy
13 Feb 10 |  Vancouver 2010

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