CALGARY, FEB. 29 -- They cried, "No, no," when the ceremonies came to an end Sunday night. They did not want the Olympic flames to go out. They did not want the eyes of the world's television cameras to shift from Calgary. They did not want the 16 days of winter athletic games and nonstop partying to be over.
During the closing ceremonies of the XV Winter Games, Canadian broadcasters joked that feisty Mayor Ralph Klein just might refuse to surrender that Olympic flag he was clutching so tightly.
The airport was clogged today with departing athletes. The roar of the crowds had died out. The Canadian organizing committee began shutting down the Main Press Center at Calgary Stampede Park, as this little metropolis began to return to normal.
"It's sad," said organizing committee president Bill Pratt. "You look forward to it being over and when it's over you are not so sure anymore."
"PERFECT," was the self-congratulatory banner headline on the front page of this morning's Calgary Herald. The games finished on time and in the black. This morning ABC-TV turned over to organizers the check for the balance of the record $309 million fee for television rights. Organizers were predicting a surplus of roughly $30 million for these Games, which were funded with a mix of corporate and public contributions.
Some uncooperative weather, scams and the favored treatment for corporate sponsors when it came to getting tickets to the most popular events cast a small cloud. But scalpers up from New York and Los Angeles learned a civics lesson about law and order when many were arrested by undercover police and fined.
The rampant commercialism of Coca-Cola, VISA, Campbell Soup, Merrill Lynch and other corporate sponsors who plastered their label on virtually everything in sight bothered some. That was tempered, however, by the personal warmth and friendliness of the 9,400 Calgary citizens who served as volunteer Olympic hosts, exuding a kind of country-western charm in this oil company headquarters city.
The news clip that was run again and again on Canadian television today was of International Olympic Committee President Juan Antonio Samaranch telling residents at the closing ceremony, "In spite of your famous Chinook, you have managed to produce the best organization of the Olympic Winter Games ever."
With only two silver medals and three bronzes, Canada ranked 12th in the medal count. But, Canadians were not particularly disappointed, unlike some of their American counterparts, who did slightly better with two golds, one silver and three bronzes, which was far less than the Soviets and East Germans.
The Canadian hero of the day was figure skating silver medalist Elizabeth Manley, who beat favorites Katarina Witt of East Germany and American Debi Thomas in the long program Saturday night. Manley told reporters she woke up at least four times that night to touch the medal.
City boosters also were trying to hang on to some of the magic. The lasting legacy of the Games is the facilities built for them. There is the Saddledome, now the home of the Calgary Flames hockey team, and new skating, sledding and skiing facilities. Part of the profits from the Games has been set aside for their operation. The fond wish here is that Calgary will become a center for international winter sports competition. Already, there is talk about a festival each winter on the scale of the 10-day Calgary Stampede held every July.
Mayor Klein said he feared there might be a bit of a letdown but he was determined to keep the excitement going. "Now we'll win the Stanley Cup," he told a news conference. "Then we're into the Stampede and then we're back to normal by September."