SOCHI, Russia – With a nod to Russia's Olympic past and 900 children carrying small flames, a giant bear huffed and puffed and blew out the Olympic flame of the Sochi Games.
The 26-foot (8-meter) bear blew his frosty breath on a flame sitting right in front of him. Moments later, the giant cauldron outside Fisht Olympic Stadium was extinguished, marking the end of the 17-day games. Then a single tear rolled down the bear's left cheek, one of the most touching moments of the closing ceremony.
It was a relatively quiet moment considering the circumstances — a packed arena and three giant animatronic mascots, with hundreds of children. Soft music was the same that played during the closing ceremony of the 1980 Moscow Games.
For a moment, the crowd treated it as a bittersweet gesture, after showing sadness when International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach declared the games closed.
But the sentiments were brief.
Soon, fireworks exploded over the stadium and athletes poured onto the arena floor to dance in front of a DJ, with screens showing an animated Olympic leopard mascot on the decks.
The message was clear: Competition's over, time to celebrate.
— By Oskar Garcia — Twitter http://twitter.com/oskargarcia
Associated Press reporters are filing dispatches about happenings in and around Sochi during the 2014 Winter Games. Follow AP journalists covering the Olympics on Twitter: http://apne.ws/1c3WMiu