The Sochi 2014 Closing Ceremony, "Reaching the Impossible", which began at exactly 20:14 Moscow time at the Fisht Stadium, concluded Russia’s first ever Paralympic Winter Games. The Ceremony celebrated the astonishing Paralympic athletes and illustrated that the impossible can become possible, thanks to strength of spirit and persistent aspiration for excelling.
Wheelchair athlete Alexey Chuvashev, medal winner in the London 2012 Paralympic Games, played the role of the central hero. Using only his hands, he climbed a 15-meter rope and placed an symbolic apostrophe between the English letters "I" and "M", changing the "IMPOSSIBLE" (НЕВОЗМОЖНО) to “I’M POSSIBLE” ("НЕТ, ВОЗМОЖНО!") and proved once again that impossible is really possible.
For the duration of the entire ceremony, with the help of various elements, organizers emphasized that "impossible" is just a word, a barrier, that prevents people from looking to the future and making positive changing, while in reality the impossible is actually possible.
The Closing Ceremony for the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games involved over 460 artists, who tirelessly rehearsed throughout recent months.
The show of nine sections opened to the music of Russian composer Alfred Schnittke, with a choreographed dance from a group of performers with an impairment (members of the Russian Federation of Wheelchair Sport Dancing) and trapeze artists in distinctive illuminated costumes who formed abstract shapes in the air. This segment was directed by the creative duet of Konstantin Vasilyev, coach of world and European champions in wheelchair sport dance, and Phil Hayes, world-renowned aerial choreographer.
Raising the Russian Federation flag
The Russian flag appeared in the arena to Peter Tchaikovsky's Solemn Coronation march. After the flag was raised, the Russian Federation anthem was performed by the Children's Choir of the All-Russian Choral Society, under the direction of Alexey Petrov. The choir united 100 gifted children from choral and musical schools from various corners of Russia, including 35 young singers with an impairment, who performed the anthem a cappella.
Reaching the Impossible
The authors were inspired to create the central theme of "Reaching the Impossible" for the closing ceremony from the work of famous Russian artist and founder of abstractionism, Vasily Kandinsky, and classic computer games.
At the beginning of the section, spectators witnessed a projection of abstract lines and multi-colored strokes reminiscent of artistic works of abstractionism. These strokes "came to life" before the spectators' eyes with the help of 462 dancers in bright costumes, who became a part of the abstract art works. Then from under the stage, four metallic frame constructions rose into the air, each containing a trapeze artist, while four jugglers also arose with multi-colored clubs. The performers created shapes symbolizing winter sports.
After a moment the projection on the stadium floor moved the minds of the spectators to the streets of a metropolis, which were filled with dynamic performances of tracers, bicyclists, in-line skaters and skateboarders. The performers' dexterity as they slid along the ramps performing parkour and during their energetic jumps was spellbinding.
To the musical tableau "In the Steppes of Central Asia" for orchestra by Alexander Borodin and music from the ballet "Romeo and Juliet" by Sergey Prokofiev, large colorful blocks united, as the action of a giant computer game unfolded in the stadium. Following its rules, the blocks formed fantastic combinations. The moment when the last colored blocks reached the center of the stadium, the writing appeared: "Game over!".
Then the multi-colored blocks again began to move and soon they were arranged in the air in the shape of the word "IMPOSSIBLE". At that time, actors in multi-colored costumes built the Russian word "IMPOSSIBLE" ("НЕВОЗМОЖНО") in the arena. Then Alexey Chuvashev, wheelchair athlete and medal winner of the London 2012 Paralympic Games, appeared on stage. Using only his hands, he climbed a 15-meter rope and placed a symbolic apostrophe between the English letters "I" and "M", and artists on stage formed commas and changed the writing to "I’M, POSSIBLE!" ("НЕТ, ВОЗМОЖНО!").
Heart of the Paralympic Games
Paralympic athletes carried out the flags of participating countries in the Cyrillic alphabet order. According to tradition, the procession was completed by Russia - host country of the Games.
After the Whang Youn Dai (who contributed to the development of the Paralympic movement), the “For the achievements” reward was presented and spectators enjoyed the entertaining "Cossack Cloak" dance performed by a group of 200 Cossacks. Traditional music was then replaced with a modern sound and the Cossacks were joined by 30 dancers performing a break-dance. An open dance contest began, in which outstanding performers with an impairment participated, including Maksim Sedakov, Ivan Shvorob, Vladimir Krivulya, Daniil Anastasin and Viktor Kochkin.
After the dance, athletes handed flowers to Sochi 2014 volunteers - delegates from the volunteer team of eight thousand, which helped to organize the Paralympic Winter Games. Performers taking part in the mass choreography, dressed in red, blue and green ponchos and carrying torches formed the shape of the agitos - the symbol of the international Paralympic movement. Then they arranged themselves in a giant heart surrounding the volunteers and, at the finale, they formed the word "HOORAH!"
Passing the Paralympic flag
To a new arrangement of the Paralympic anthem performed by Oleg Akkuratov, a pianist who has been visually impaired since birth, the Paralympic flag was lowered.
The mayor of Sochi, Anatoly Pakhomov, passed the flag to the president of the International Paralympic Committee, Sir Philip Craven, who in his turn passed it to the mayor of Pyeongchang, Lee Seok-rae.
The flag of South Korea was then raised onto the flagstaff and above the stadium was heard the national anthem of the country receiving the baton of the Paralympic Winter Games.
As this section ended, the time came for "Together on the Journey" - a story about South Korea, the harmony and unity of Pyeongchang. An artist standing in the center of a snowy field began to draw the hopes and dreams of athletes, who will find their fulfillment in Pyeongchang. The illustrated dream came to life as a young girl performed a song and artists in wheelchairs danced.
Snow and Flame
A few minutes later, the deputy Prime minister of the Russian Federation Dmitry Kozak and president of the International Paralympic Committee, Sir Philip Craven, arrived on the ceremonial stage to give speeches dedicated to the closing of the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.
It was time to extinguish the Paralympic flame, which had burned for the last nine days at the Fisht Stadium.
A children's choir walked out onto the stadium field. Small lamps held by the children created a gleaming trail as they moved toward the Paralympic flame, burning in the symbolic Cauldron located in the center of the stadium field.
At that moment, four soloists – legendary Spanish tenor Jose Carreras, visually impaired Adyghe singer Nafset Chenib, Honored artist of the Russian Federation, Sochi 2014 Ambassador Diana Gurtskaya and the student of the Choral Art Academy Valeri Kozlovsky – performed the “Paralympic Chorus”. They were accompanied by singers from the All-Russia Choral Society. The Closing Ceremony displayed the principle of inclusivity in action, uniting all artists on one stage.
Snowflakes then began to spin slowly above them and the children blew out the lamps. The Paralympic flame was slowly extinguished in the arena, which led to the flame in the Cauldron in Olympic Park fading out.
After the farewell to the Paralympic flame from the enchanting atmosphere of snow, the spectators found themselves in an energizing world, embodying happiness and joy. At the stadium a captivating performance began, involving entertaining characters: performers inside big crystal balls, gymnasts, and people blowing large soap bubbles. Participants in the celebratory procession began the grand celebration of the closing of the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games. They formed the Russian phrase "NET, VOZMOZHNO” (“YES, POSSIBLE”) as a reflection of the "I'M POSSIBLE" writing floating in the air.
Notes to the Editor
The Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Sochi 2014 Games were some of the most innovative in history from a technological viewpoint. The creative dream of the organizers was brought to reality by original advanced technological decorations moved with the help of a complex harness system with a total length of 3.8km.
The Fisht Stadium stage has an area of more than 8,500sq.m equipped with 25 hoists and 40 lockable hatches for the decorations.
In all, for the Paralympics Closing Ceremony, more than 1,600 costumes were sewn and more than 1,500 decoration elements and props were produced.
Spectators of the Closing Ceremony again saw the unique "LED forest", which was a decoration made of 204 light tubes, each 12 meters tall. If all of the pipes used in the ceremony were put into one row, they would make a line almost 2.5km long.
The Autonomous Non-commercial Organization "Ceremonies Staging Agency" is a legal body founded by the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee. The Agency is responsible for providing the most effective implementation of measures for the organization and staging of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 2014 Games in Sochi in accordance with the requirements of the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee.