Written by Matthew Gephart
SOCHI, Russia – In a spectacle of light and sound, the Paralympics of Sochi 2014 has come to a close in the same manner it has endured during the weeks of competition, sensational.
The anticipation began as volunteers took the stage to form a perimeter of smiles and dance, inviting all the athletes on the floor to take their seats for the exhibition that was about to be fore taken. As each country came to take its place, spectators invited them as they had all week during competition.
An elaborate dance number was arranged using wheelchairs and light to start, synchronizing moves around center stage. Those in wheelchairs were then joined by dangling acrobats where spinning and flipping became a demonstration of light, forming a harmonized flow of display between numerous aerialists.
Vladimir Putin and Sir Phillip Craven, President of the Russian Federation and President of the International Paralympic Committee, had taken their seats as the Russian flag was raised in memorandum of the games that took place here in Sochi. The Russian State Children’s Chorus Assembly presented the national anthem while Russian spectators sang along from their seats.
As we learned the theme for the evening of ‘I’mPossible,’ the elaborate dance numbers and song had captivated all as they watched.
Including the theme of Tetris and blocks forming a mini Tetris match on stage which ended with a ‘Game Over’ projection, the blocks were then raised to reveal the word Impossible above center stage.
After an enduring stunt of rope climbing by Aleksey Chuvashev, straight from wheelchair to Tetris block, a feat which ended with an extended reach and transition to form the apostrophe making Impossible, I’mPossible. In bright Technicolor, I’mPossible was the apparent premise of the night, bridging the gap between being impaired and enduring through adaptive sports, just as the athletes have proven time and time again during the events in Sochi. The strength and courage that it takes for each and every athlete to be where they are today was shown gracefully and vigorously through this one act of valor that was undertaken by Chuvashev climbing seventy five feet into the air.
Next, volunteers and special athletes were acknowledged during a dance movement showing the Paralympics symbol and a heart, adhering to the celebration of those whose exceptional endeavors and commitments captured the hearts and minds of many.
The presentation of the Korean flag was a special time where the torch was passed onto the next winter games to take place in PyeongChang in 2018. With a short segment from the South Korean ensemble showing the perseverance of an artist who has prosthetic arms, painting a large mural on center stage while dancers in traditional fashion were strewn about around him. The pure determination was enough to keep all eyes fixated on the presentation at hand, giving an outlook into what to expect from PyeongChang in another four years.
Following speeches from Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, Dmitriy Kozak, and President of the IPC, Sir Phillip Craven, the Paralympic flame was extinguished in center stage as Craven declared the games official closed for Sochi in 2014. As the ‘Paralympic Chorus’ had rung out once again from the Russian State Children’s Chorus Assembly and other international singers, then began the joyful finale of the evenings cast, in a frivolous celebration of the games that had taken place, and the accomplishments of the athletes.