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Canada, after a slow start, set a Winter Games record with 14 golds and sparked public enthusiasm in Vancouver that veterans of multiple Olympics described as unsurpassed.
The comeback by the Canadian athletes was mirrored by the determination of the Vancouver Organizing Committee. It struggled with a series of glitches and weather problems early in the games, adjusted as best it could, and reached the finish line winning widespread praise for an exceptional Olympics -- albeit one tinged with sadness.
Right from the start of the closing show, there was a spirit of redemption as the producers made up for an opening-ceremony glitch in which one leg of the Olympic cauldron failed to rise from the stadium floor. On Sunday, the recalcitrant leg rose smoothly and former speedskating medalist Catriona LeMay Doan -- who missed out on the opening-night flame lighting because of the glitch -- got to perform that duty this time.
Later came the traditional handover ceremony, during which the Olympic flag was lowered and presented to the hosts of the next Winter Games in 2014.
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson handed over the five-ringed flag to IOC president Jacques Rogge, who passed it on to Anatoly Pakhomov, the mayor of Sochi, Russia. That was followed by the Russian national anthem and a presentation about Sochi featuring opera, ballet, ice skating and giant glowing spheres called "zorbs."
Other key moments in the closing:
The awarding of medals for the men's 50-kilometer cross-country ski race, won by Petter Northug of Norway.
The swearing-in of two new members of the International Olympic Committee chosen by their fellow athletes -- U.S. hockey player Angela Ruggiero and British skeleton racer Adam Pengilly.
The singing of the Olympic anthem by renowned Canadian tenor Ben Heppner.
A tongue-in-cheek revue of Canadian icons and symbols, featuring singing-and-dancing Mounties, tabletop hockey players, dancing canoes. and flying moose and beavers.
A segment in which Canadian actors -- including William Shatner and Michael J. Fox
-- made fun of national stereotypes.
Fox, who has Parkinson's disease, received a huge ovation.
"I lived in the U.S. for 30 years," Fox said. "But if the U.S. is playing Canada in hockey, I'm sorry, I'm wearing a maple leaf on my sweater."
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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