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Sochi 2014

Day 9 | Alpine skiing moment of the day | Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games

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The best action from the final day of the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games. To see the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games schedule, results, medals table and details of where to watch on TV, please visit http://www.paralympic.org. For details on Paralympic classification, please visit: http://www.paralympic.org/classification

Impressions of Sochi 2014

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As we say 'farewell' to the Sochi 2014 Winter Paralympic Games some of the athletes give us their impressions of these games.

Day 9 | Cross-country skiing moment of the day | Sochi 2014 Winter Paralympic Games

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Russia's Vladislav LEKOMTCEV seals a superb individual games by helping Russia to another clean sweep in the cross country (this time the men's 10km free standing) Aleksandr PRONKOV 23:59.9 RUS Vladimir KONONOV 24:00.7 RUS Vladislav LEKOMTCEV To see the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games schedule, results, medals table and details of where to watch on TV, please visit http://www.paralympic.org. For details on Paralympic classification, please visit: http://www.paralympic.org/classification

UNBELIEVABLE scenes from the closing ceremony of the Sochi 2014 Winter Paralympic Games

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Some of the most memorable scenes from the amazing closing ceremony of the Sochi 2014 winter Paralympic Games.

INCREDIBLE cossack dance at the closing ceremony of Sochi 2014 Winter Paralympic Games

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The stuinning Cossack dance at the closing ceremony of the Sochi 2014 Winter Paralympic Games.

Record-breaking Sochi 2014 Paralympics close in celebration of possibility

Sochi 2014 featured a spectacular Closing Ceremony showing the world the realm of possibilities.

Impossible 'I'm possible' is spelled using Tetris tiles during the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games Closing Ceremony. © • Getty Images
By IPC

“Attitudes toward people with an impairment have changed among Russian society. The Paralympic Winter Games have become a catalyst for our efforts to create a barrier-free environment in Russia. The Games are over, but we promise that this important work will continue throughout our vast country.”

The Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games – which were record-breaking in terms of athletic performances, ticket sales and media coverage – came to an end on Sunday evening (16 March) at Fisht Stadium with a spectacular Closing Ceremony.

Through the theme of “Reaching the Impossible,” the Closing Ceremony illuminated how dreams can be achieved through strength and passion to change the perception of “impossible” to “I’m possible.”

IPC President Sir Philip Craven addressed the stadium during the Closing Ceremony, saying:

“The Paralympic Spirit has united and infected us all. Proud Paralympians – your inspirational athletic performances have redefined the boundaries of possibility.

“You have shown the world that absolutely anything is possible and that life is about amazing capabilities and not perceived deficiencies.

“With record numbers of highly enthusiastic spectators supporting you all, you have shown what real grit and determination looks like. Through record TV audiences and media coverage, you have opened up the eyes of the world to what the human spirit can achieve.”

The Closing Ceremony started with a group of wheelchair dancers moving gracefully across the field of play, joined by luminous aerialists overhead. All 30 Sochi 2014 gold medallists from the host nation carried the Russian flag into the stadium as the Russian State Children’s Chorus Assembly sang an a capella version of the national anthem.

Abstract artwork was brought to life by a centre stage cast of 462 performers dressed in bright colours who formed geometric shapes to display different images, including illustrations of various winter sports.

A man in a wheelchair then appeared on the scene, faced with the challenge of climbing a 15-metre rope. When he accepted the challenge and reached the top of the rope, he became a flying apostrophe between the letters ‘I’ and ‘M’ in ‘IMPOSSIBLE’ to create ‘I’M POSSIBLE,’ with a spectacular fireworks display celebration the transformation.

The Sochi 2014 Paralympics certainly showcased that motto, as Russia topped the standings with 30 golds and 80 total medals at the Games.

Russia’s Deputy Prime Minster Dmitry Kozak spoke, saying: “These Games have gone far beyond sports competitions. They showed what people from different countries and nationalities different cultures and traditions are capable of when they are united by a single goal and an inspired dream.

“Attitudes toward people with an impairment have changed among Russian society. The Paralympic Winter Games have become a catalyst for our efforts to create a barrier-free environment in Russia. The Games are over, but we promise that this important work will continue throughout our vast country.”

Also in the Ceremony, the Whang Young Dai Award was presented to Australian alpine skier Toby Kane and Dutch snowboarder Bibian Mentel-Spee for not only achieving sporting excellence, but also for exemplifying the spirit of the Games by inspiring and exciting the world.

Norway’s Eskil Hagen, Finland’s Katja Saarinen and Russia’s Mikhail Terentiev were introduced as the new members of the IPC Athletes’ Council before the 8,000 Sochi 2014 Paralympic volunteers were recognised as heros of the Games. Soon after, a cast of performers in red, blue and green transformed the Paralympic Agitos into a giant heart, embracing 51 volunteers at its centre.

Visually impaired pianist Oleg Akkuratov played the Paralympic Anthem as the Paralympic Flag was lowered and passed on to the Mayor of PyeongChang before the South Korean flag was raised and the PyeongChang 2018 Games performers gave a magical performance.

An enchanting cast filled the stage for the Closing Ceremony finale, putting on a huge dance sequence that included four international voices – Jose Carreras –Nafset Chenib, Diana Gurtskaya and Valeriy Kozlovsky – and ended with a large fireworks display across the entire Olympic Park.

Impossible

Impossible

Sir Philip gives 'high five' to Sochi 2014 volunteers

The IPC President honoured all the Paralympic Winter Games volunteers during the Closing Ceremony.

IPC President Sir Philip Craven with Ekaterina and Elizaveta Gulina IPC President Sir Philip Craven with Ekaterina and Elizaveta Gulina, his assistants in Sochi during the Olympic and Paralympic Games © • Lieven Coudenys
By IPC

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be on stage with the IPC President representing all the volunteers. We were delighted to accept even though we were very, very nervous.”

IPC President Sir Philip Craven has hailed the 8,000 volunteers who were instrumental in the success of the Sochi 2014 Paralympics by saying Die pyat volonteru – Russian for "high five" to the volunteers – during his closing ceremony speech.

On stage with Sir Philip during his address to receive "high fives" were volunteers Ekaterina and Elizaveta Gulina, twin sisters from Moscow who for the last six weeks have acted as the IPC President’s assistants in Sochi during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The 20-year-olds who are studying Business and Culture at the International University in Moscow, at first did not believe it when Sir Philip invited them to join him on stage during the ceremony.

“I thought he was kidding us.” explained Ekaterina. “Then all I wanted to do was call my mum and my friends and tell them the good news.

“My mum then told me to call our gran as she was kept looking out for us on TV during the Games.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be on stage with the IPC President representing all the volunteers. We were delighted to accept even though we were very, very nervous.”

“I think the TV audience was probably huge as we called all our friends and told then to watch,” joked Elizaveta who added that by wearing the Sochi 2014 volunteers’ uniform it was relief not to have to worry about an outfit for her appearance on the world stage.

Like thousands of others, the twin sisters applied to be Sochi 2014 volunteers after being involved in a number of other major sporting events, including last year’s Universiade in Kazan, to gain valuable work experience.

They then first met Sir Philip at the 2013 Chef de Mission seminar and put forward their names to be his assistants during the Olympics and Paralympics.

“For the Olympics he was an IOC member, and then one week later he became the IPC President. But he never changed. He’s so relaxed and so easy to work with him. He’s very kind. We had no problems with him,” added Elizaveta

Sir Philip Craven: 'The Paralympic Spirit has united and infected us all'

Read the entirety of the IPC President's Closing Ceremony speech from Sochi 2014.

Sir Phillip Craven, IPC president speaks during the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games Sir Phillip Craven, IPC President, speaks during the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games. © • Getty Images
By IPC

Together with the athletes, the staff and the officials, you really are the Sochi 2014 Change Makers.

Athletes, Officials, Distinguished Guests,

Paralympic sport fans from all over the world,

Dobriy vecher!

Tonight, I simply want to say thank you.

Thank you to each and every one of you for making these Games so special, so memorable and so compelling that not one of us wants them to end.

In 2007 we started this journey together; a journey that has seen Sochi transformed into a barrier free city and a blueprint for accessibility and inclusivity throughout Russia.

Thank you to President Vladimir Putin and the Russian Federation for showing a willingness to change, and, most pleasingly, an even greater desire to implement further change.

Thank you to Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak for your unfaltering seven years of support. Thank you to Dimitry Chernyshenko and the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee for delivering a Games that have smashed many records and broken down even more barriers.

At last week’s Opening Ceremony, I called upon you all to have barrier free minds.

But how are your barrier free minds feeling tonight?

Do you sense a greater degree of liberation whether here in Sochi, in the wider Russia or throughout the world? I certainly do!

The Paralympic Spirit has united and infected us all.

Proud Paralympians – your inspirational athletic performances have redefined the boundaries of possibility.

You have shown the world that absolutely anything is possible and that life is about amazing capabilities and not perceived deficiencies.

With record numbers of highly enthusiastic spectators supporting you all, you have shown what real grit and determination looks like. Through record TV audiences and media coverage, you have opened up the eyes of the world to what the human spirit can achieve.

I want to congratulate Olympic Broadcasting Services for their scintillating imagery and must pay special thanks to the extraordinary alpine, biathlon and cross-country skiing course preparation staff and volunteers.

But what of the Sochi 2014 volunteers? No matter what the weather, you have always melted our hearts with your most natural of smiles.

Die pyat volonteru.

Together with the athletes, the staff and the officials, you really are the Sochi 2014 Change Makers.

I thank you all and say with great pleasure - Sochi 2014 – the best Paralympic Winter Games ever – a Games that showed miracles know no borders.

Finally the time has come for me to declare the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games closed and I call upon Paralympic athletes all over the world to meet again in PyeongChang, Korea in four years time, where once again, you will inspire and excite the world with your sporting excellence.”

Spasibar Sochi, Spasibar Russia, Spasibar the world.

Spasibar, Spasibar.

Anna Schaffelhuber completes quest for five golds

For the second straight Winter Paralympics, a female skier won five alpine golds.

Anna Schaffelhuber Germany's Anna Schaffelhuber celebrates her fifth gold medal at Sochi 2014, having won the women's giant slalom sitting event on the final day of the Games. © • Getty Images
By Justin A. Rice | For the IPC

"I knew that I could reach gold in every discipline, but I have never believed that I would do that."

Anna Schaffelhuber won her fifth title in the final women’s sit-ski event on the closing day of the Sochi 2014 Winter Paralympics on Sunday (16 March) at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Centre.

The German sit skier won the women’s giant slalom sitting class with a combined time of 2:51.26 to become the second straight woman to sweep all five alpine events at the Paralympics.

Canadian Lauren Woolstencroft won five gold medals on her home soil in Vancouver four years ago in the standing class.

"I knew that I could reach gold in every discipline, but I have never believed that I would do that," Schaffelhuber said.

Schaffelhuber — who was second at the 2013 IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships in La Molina, Spain, in the giant slalom — also won gold in downhill, super G, slalom and super combined in the women's sitting class in Sochi. She won the slalom after originally being disqualified in the first run of the event only to have that ruling overturn.

"The highlight is not the five gold medals, the highlight is staying together with the whole team after the whole disqualification,” she said. “I felt we are a team and everyone is working for everyone.

"It's amazing, I can't believe it. I'm looking forward to the dream becoming reality because until now I haven't realised it."

Austria’s Claudia Loesch, who is the reigning world champion in the event, finished in second place with a time of 2:55.91 while Schaffelhuber’s teammate Anna-Lena Forster won bronze in 2:59.33.

After Sunday’s first run, Schaffelhuber sat in second with a time of 1:31.60 behind Canadian Kimberly Joines (1:30.44). The USA’s Alana Nichols (133.49) was third after the first run five days after crashing in the super-G and receiving medical treatment.

"I feel so fortunate to leave the hospital with no broken bones, just a few stitches on my chin,” Nichols (3:00.24), who finished fourth despite doing a full spin on her second run, said after her first run. “But that's part of life."

Coming into Sochi skiing speculators predicted it would be France’s world champion, Marie Bochet, going for five golds since she swept all five events at last year’s World Championships.

The 20-year-old stumbled in Wednesday’s slalom but still managed to win her fourth gold on Sunday by clocking a combined time of 2:38.84 in the giant slalom standing class.

"I'm happy I had the chance to live all this,” she said. “But I'm also happy that this has come to an end because it has been an exhausting experience. I'm happy for all the medals I have won."

Bochet’s rival, Andrea Rothfuss of Germany, who won silver in the event four years ago in Vancouver, finished second with a time of 2:39.70.

After Rothfuss dropped a tough time of 1:14.34 in her second run and after Bochet stumbled a bit midcourse but still managed to hang on for a time of 1:13.86 in her second run.

"On the steep portion after the jump, I thought I was going to ski off,” she said. “I was really scared. It reminds me of the slalom. The second run has been tricky to the last gate. I didn't have a big advantage over Andrea.”

Bochet’s teammate, Solene Jambaque, was third with a time of 2:46.81.

In the women’s giant slalom visually impaired class, Slovakia’s Henrieta Farkasova (2:48.63) beat Russia’s Aleksandra Frantceva (2:54.91), while Australia’s Jessica Gallagher (3:02.11) was third.

Going into Sunday’s final day of competition, Frantceva had already won gold in slalom and super-combined, along with silver in super-G and bronze in downhill. She also won the giant slalom at the World Championships and the gold medal in Vancouver for years ago.