CALGARY, FEB. 28 -- After 16 days, endless Chinook winds, 46 medal ceremonies and one momentous meeting between Alberto Tomba and Katarina Witt, the XV Winter Olympics ended tonight with Finland's upset of the gold-medal winning Soviet Union hockey team, a third gold medal for Dutch speed skater Yvonne van Gennip and a near miss by the U.S. four-man bobsled team.

The Games ended where they began, in front of 60,000 at McMahon Stadium. Hundreds of athletes followed their nations' flag bearers into the stadium for the closing ceremonies. Gold and bronze medalist Bonnie Blair carried the U.S. flag, double-bronze medalist Karen Percy carried the Canadian flag.

The center piece of the ceremonies was an ice rink on which past Olympic medalists performed. Spectators chanted "Eddy, Eddy," in honor of popular British ski jumper Eddy Edwards and drowned out a speech by IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch with a rowdy version of the wave.

The well-choreographed cermonies were in sharp contrast to the day's competition, which featured Finland's 2-1 hockey upset of the Soviets, their first loss in the Olympics since the United States upset them, 2-1, in 1980. Finland won the silver medal, Sweden the bronze.

The U.S.S.R., which has a 55-5-2 record in Olympic hockey, has lost to Finland in international or Olympic competition only four times in 125 games. This was the Finnish hockey team's first top-three showing of the Olympics or world competition.

Van Gennip won the women's 5,000 meters today to add to her gold medals in the 3,000 and 1,500. She is the only athlete to win three individual gold medals at the Olympics. Finland's Matti Nykanen won two individual golds and a third team gold.

The United States' best opportunity for a medal on the final day of the Olympics unexpectedly came on the bobsled run at Canada Olympic Park, where Brent Rushlaw of Saranac Lake, N.Y., had the fastest run of the final heat but finished two one-hundredths of a second behind Ianis Kipours of the Soviet Union for a bronze medal. Switzerland's Ekkehard Fasser won the gold and defending champion Wolfgang Hoppe of East Germany won the silver.

Rushlaw, at 36 a four-time Olympic bobsledder, started the day in fifth place but completed two smooth, fast runs in USA 1 with partners Hal Hoye, Mike Wasko and Bill White.

Had they won a medal, it would have been the United States' first in the sport since 1956.

The Jamaican bobsled team, a crowd favorite that became immortalized on T-shirts around town, did a 360-degree turn during the third heat and skidded to a stop on its side. No one was seriously hurt, but the team was disqualified.

These Games were dominated by warm weather; heros like Tomba, the two-time gold medal skier, and Witt, the women's figure skating champion; and by the Soviets.

The Soviet Union, with its gold medal in hockey, won 29 medals, 11 of them gold. Both totals were the highest at the Olympics. The Soviets had their best Winter Olympics here, surpassing their previous high of 27 medals in the 1976 Olympics at Innsbruck.

East Germany was second with 25 medals, including nine gold. Switzerland was next with 15 medals, five of them gold. Hippolyt Kempf won the final Swiss gold today in the Nordic combined.

The United States, which has never done particularly well in the Winter Olympics, had its worst showing ever relative to the total number of medals awarded. The United States won two gold medals, one silver and three bronze for a total of six. U.S. teams won only four medals in the 1924 Olympics and again in 1936, but there were only 13 events (39 medals) in the '24 Olympics and 17 (51 medals) in '36. There were 46 events in these Olympics, 138 medals in all.

For the first time since 1968, no U.S. skier won a medal in the Alpine events. An American skier finished in the top 10 only once: Edith Thys of Squaw Valley, Calif., was ninth in the super giant slalom. A sobering statistic was the number of U.S. skiers who finished races -- 22 -- compared to the number who did not finish -- 17.

For the second consecutive Olympics, the U.S. hockey team failed to reach the medal round and finished seventh, even though the 1988 medal round was expanded from four to six teams.

"There's no reason we can't do much, much better," said U.S. Olympic Committee President Robert Helmick. "Our athletes have the capability. What we're looking for is support, financially and with programs."

Helmick and others have been besieged by questions about the U.S. performance in these Olympics. In a way, that might help the cause.

"My main thought leaving Calgary is I'm thankful for the attention of the American public {concerning} where the United States stands in international competition," Helmick said today. "What's happened here, the news reports and all the analysis have made this a really big issue to the American public. Now, where do we go from here?"

The surprisingly strong U.S. bobsled finish, combined with Bonny Warner's sixth-place finish in luge, gives Helmick hope that Americans are getting better at sports few follow in the United States.

"Focusing on medals is a mistake," Helmick said. "What does count is competing and if we compete and compete well, medals will come. I hope now the American public and the media will follow a Bonny Warner season-by-season and year-after-year."