60,000 Attend Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony

Moose balloons float during the closing ceremony of the Vancouver ... Reuters

An Olympics that began with the death of a luger ended Sunday with an exuberant celebration of Canada — reflecting a determined comeback by the host country’s organizers and athletes.

A festive crowd of 60,000 jammed into BC Place Stadium for the closing ceremony, many of them Canadians abuzz over the overtime victory by their men’s hockey team earlier in the day to give the host nation a Winter Olympics record of 14 gold medals.

The gaiety contrasted sharply with the moment of silence at the opening ceremony Feb. 12 for Nodar Kumaritashvili, the 21-year-old luger killed in a horrific training-run crash on the sliding track in Whistler just hours before that ceremony.

“These games started out with a nightmare and ended up with a golden dream,” said Kevan Gosper, an IOC member from Australia who was in the stadium crowd Sunday evening.

Canadian officials ensured there would be some poignancy at the closing ceremony, selecting figure skater Joannie Rochette as their flagbearer. Her mother died of a heart attack hours after arriving in Vancouver last weekend, but Rochette chose to carry on and won a bronze medal, inspiring her teammates and fans around the world.

“Yes, it’s been a tough week for me,” she said before the ceremony. “But I walk tonight into that stadium with a big smile on my face. … I accomplished my goals, and I want to celebrate with my teammates.”

Her entire team was greeted with a mighty roar when they joined the fast-moving, informal parade of athletes into the stadium. Among the cheerleaders was Prime Minster Stephen Harper, wearing a Canada jacket.

The U.S. flagbearer was Bill Demong, a veteran of four Olympics who won a gold and silver medal in Nordic combined.

There were plenty of reasons for Canada and the United States to celebrate after 17 days of competition. The U.S. won 37 medals overall — the most ever for any nation in a Winter Olympics.

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 resilience 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. (AP)

Performers move giant table-hockey players and "Mounties" ... Reuters


Rules for the Curling Challenged

I found this graphic on LA Times. Thank God. Otherwise I would be totally lost as to how to play it.

Sounds fun. Now I just need to find a place near Reno where curling games are held.

Conan’s Tweet: He’s Talking to Animals

Conan O’Brien is experiencing talk-show withdrawal pangs.

He tweeted Wednesday that he interviewed a squirrel in his backyard, then tried to go to a commercial.

In the bio section of the account that’s verified by Twitter as accurate, O’Brien wrote: “I had a show. Then I had a different show. Now I have a Twitter account.”

His January exit deal with NBC bars him from interviews or TV appearances for several months, so tweeting is another way O’Brien can communicate with fans.

He left “Tonight” after NBC tried to bump him to a midnight slot to move Jay Leno back to late-night. Leno will reclaim “Tonight” on Monday.

Under his NBC agreement, O’Brien can start another show in September. Fox has expressed interest in the comedian.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

Lucky Number Reason for Toyota Spelling Change

Americans may be wondering: why does the president of Toyota spell his name with a “d?” Turns out, it’s a matter of luck.

When Akio Toyoda’s grandfather started the company in 1937, he replaced the final consonant of his surname with a “t” to soften the last syllable.

But sounding better wasn’t the only reason. It takes eight brushstrokes to write the company name, while it takes ten strokes to write the founder’s name. Eight is a lucky number in Japan.

The way it’s written, the wider base of the characters symbolizes growth and prosperity in the future.

Also, the founder’s name literally means “fertile rice fields.” And, the company wanted success through innovation and manufacturing prowess.  

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

NBC Announces Leno’s Tonight Show Guest List

Jay Leno

Jay Leno returns to hosting The Tonight Show on March 1, and his first two weeks on the job will include a lot of A-list names, as the guest list below indicates. But will the star power be enough to wipe the slate clean after this winter’s bitter late-night debacle?

NBC debuts new Tonight Show with Jay Leno promos

Monday, March 1: Jamie Foxx, Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn and a musical performance by Brad Paisley
Tuesday, March 2: Sarah Palin and Olympic snowboarder Shaun White
Wednesday, March 3: “Jaywalk All-Stars” with the cast of Jersey Shore, Chelsea Handler, Olympic speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno and a musical performance by Avril Lavigne
Thursday, March 4: Matthew McConaughey and Jason Reitman
Friday, March 5: Morgan Freeman and Meredith Vieira
Monday, March 8: Simon Cowell
Tuesday, March 9: Christoph Waltz, animal expert Dave Salmoni and a musical performance by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
Wednesday, March 10: Kristen Stewart and Guy Fieri
Thursday, March 11: Dana Carvey, Kim Kardashian and a musical performance by Colbie Caillat
Friday, March 12: Dakota Fanning and Judd Apatow


In Plushenko’s Mind (and Website), he’s the Platinum Medal Winner

Evgeni Plushenko‘s long, delusional journey continues. Just days after the silver medalist for men’s figure skating denied that Evan Lysacek is the true champion of men’s figure skating, he has apparently awarded himself a platinum medal. From his official website:

It reads, “Silver of Salt Lake, Gold of Torino, Platinum of Vancouver.” What’s impressive here is that not only has Plushenko’s website team fabricated an Olympic medal, it designed a platinum medal, too. Bravo. That’s commitment to a delusion.

Previously, Plushenko ripped gold medalist Evan Lysacek for not attempting a quad jump, and even Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin weighed in on the controversy, saying Plushenko “performed the most accomplished program on the Vancouver ice.” Lysacek responded to the criticism with class, but Plushenko clearly hasn’t come to grips with the fact that the gold medal eluded him in Vancouver.

(found on yahoo!)

J.D. Fortune Will Sign With INXS at Winter Olympics

INXS.gif image by dash007

J.D. Fortune will be singing with INXS at the Olympics.

Fortune has posted on his web site he will perform with the band during the victory ceremony on February 24 in Vancouver.

INXS found Fortune through the TV show “Rock Star: INXS” in 2005. He later claimed the band dumped him at a Hong Kong airport after touring for two years and he had been forced to live out the truck because he was broke.

INXS disputed that story.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)