Live from Vancouver, it's the Winter Olympics closing ceremony
8:00: The show is over. One of the best closing ceremonies you will ever want to see. Well done, Canada. Thank you, Vancouver, for your hospitality and personal warmth. I consider myself part Canadian now.
7:55: Hip-hop dancers XXS and NON , along with freshh, Scrap Arts Music, Beat Nation Drummers, and Hip Hop of Vancouver close out the show.
7:50: Marie-Mai sings "Emmene-moi".
7:46: Hedley sings "Cha-Ching". The closing ceremony is ending with six notable Canadian musical acts singing. If the Games had been held in the U.S., what six would you choose?
7:42: Simple Plan sings "Your Love is a Lie". An interesting song title for an Olympics program. The athletes are holding on to each other on the arena floor. They must know the Games are almost over and it's almost time to say goodbye.
7:38: Alanis Morissette sings "Wunderkind". Alanis Morissette > Avril Lavigne.
7:31: Avril Lavigne sings. She doesn't seem to be enjoying herself. She sang "My Happy Ending" and "Girlfriend".
7:28: Time for Nickelback to sing, as the show ends with a 30-minute concert featuring notable Canadian singers. The athletes flood the arena floor and dance to the music. Truly a wonderful sight. Nickelback sang "How You Remine Me" and Burn It to the Ground" and really lifted the energy in the arena.
7:20: Now a really weird part of the show, featuring giant inflatable mounties, giant plastic beavers, giant cardboard moose, and lumberjacks. It looks more like a show you'd put on if you wanted to make fun of Canada.
7:15: Michael Buble sings "Maple Leaf Forever". If you hate maple leaves, this is not the place for you.
7:11: Michael J. Fox comes out and gets a standing ovation. He says everyone who visits Canada is a Canadian from then on. He's right. This has been a great closing ceremony.
7:09: Catherine O'Hara comes out to give a brief slideshow review of the Games, poking fun at how polite Canadians are. Very funny.
7:04: Now a cultural display of Canada, hosted by William Shatner.
6:57: Neil Young hits the stage. Now we're talking. He sings "Long May You Run" as the Olympic flame is extinguished. Artificial snow falls from the ceiling as the flame goes out and the pillars retract back into the floor. Really beautiful.
6:50: The speeches are still going on. Make yourself some popcorn.
6:40: Everyone's favorite part: The speeches by VANOC CEO John Furlong and IOC President Jacques Rogge. Or as it is more commonly called: the bathroom break part of the show.
6:29: Now, performers from Sochi put on a presentation that includes giant inflatable snowballs, projected clouds, a "magic ball" and the Bolshoi ballet. Seriously. You can't make this stuff up.
6:24: The singing of the Russian national anthem. It would be great if they brought former WWE superstar out to sing it. Howard Finkel could say "Mr. Volkoff asks that you please rise...."
6:20: The Olympic flag, which has flown over the Games for 16 days, is officially lowered and handed to Anatoly Pakhomov, the mayor of Sochi, Russia, which will host the next Winter Olympics in 2014.
6:18: The flag of Greece and its national anthem sung. Greece is the birthplace of the Olympics.
6:15: They officially recognize the volunteers who made these Games run so smoothly. Amen to that. Many of them stood for hours in cold and rain to make the Games enjoyable for athletes, visitors and media.
6:07: They are having the medal ceremony for today's cross-country ski race at the closing ceremony, which is really nice. It's probably the biggest crowd the three guys have ever been in front of, and is a nice moment for athletes whose sport is usually ignored in the U.S. The medalists: Gold: Petter Northug, Norway; Silver: Axel Teichmann, Germany; Bronze: Johan Olsson, Sweden.
6:03: The athletes have made it to their seats, and now Nikki Yanofsky, Derek Miller and Eva Avila are singing. As the winner of "Canadian Idol", Eva Avila is sort of the Carrie Underwood of Canada. Derek Miller is an Aboriginal singer-songwriter and Nikki Yanofsky sang the Canadian national anthem in the opening ceremony.
5:48: In Olympic tradition, all the athletes enter the arena at the same time, no longer separated by country, but together as one nation of athletes. This is the last moment of glory for many of these people, most of whom devoted most of their lives training for the Olympics. The joy on their faces is evident. And our hearts go out to the people in Chile and Georgia, for the tragedies they suffered during these Games.
5:45: Back to chanting Vancouver over and over again.
5:41: Now it's time for the always exciting arrival of the official party.
5:40: Now what is billed as "1,000 youth of Canada" (I only counted 998) come out and chant "Vancouver" for way too long. And they are all carrying snowboards.
5:30: Remember in the opening ceremony how one of the four pillars carrying the torch wouldn't raise up from the floor? Well, the closing ceremony opens with a clown coming out from the hole in the arena floor where the pillar is. He is carrying a wrench and pantomimes pulling the pillar into place. The pillar slowly rises into place, and Catriona LeMay Doan , who didn't get to light he torch in the opening ceremony, comes out and lights it. That may have been the best closing ceremony moment of all time. Just a beautiful and spot on way to open, poking fun at themselves. Well done.
Before the closing ceremony begins, let me just take the time to thank the people of Vancouver for a wonderful 19 days. The people here couldn't be nicer, from the volunteers who make sure the buses run on time, to the citizens walking the streets, to the athletes and people from around the world who were here.
Being from L.A., I was sort of hoping the U.S. would win today's hockey game, but after seeing what joy Canada's victory brought to so many people here, after watching the fans in the hockey arena give U.S. goalie Ryan Miller a lengthy ovation during the medal ceremony, and after watching them applaud the U.S. team in unison when it skated off the ice, I am happy that Canada won.
If any people deserved a moment to celebrate, it was the people here in Vancouver who worked so hard to make the Games a truly enjoyable experience. Thank you, Vancouver.
-- Houston Mitchell in Vancouver, Canada
Photo: The Olympic caldrom is finally complete. Credit: Cameron Spencer / Getty Images.