Sochi 2014 Opening Ceremony Recap


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Feb 7, 2014; Sochi, RUSSIA; Fireworks explode during the opening ceremony for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games at Fisht Olympic Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

One never knows what to expect at any Olympics Opening Ceremony, when part of the objective is to go above and beyond what previous hosts did.

And, there is likely something that will go horribly wrong. Look at what happened four years ago in Vancouver when its internal cauldron at BC Place Stadium partially malfunctioned. Luckily, they also had an external cauldron which was ready to go.

The Sochi Opening Ceremonies from the Fisht Olympic Stadium (part of Sochi 2014’s coastal cluster) officially began the Games with a bang. But, someone in Sochi apparently forgot that the Olympic logo has five rings instead of four.

Part of the ceremony included the appearance of four giant snowflakes that were supposed to change themselves into Olympic rings. But, only four of the five did so with the one on the top right remaining a snowflake.

In addition, it was also reported that it was not the only flub up involving the rings. The five rings were also supposed to shoot off fireworks after they had converged. NBC, surprisingly, showed the footage of the fail.

You wouldn’t know this if you were in Russia and were watching the Opening Ceremony on Russian state television, which was hosting the show last night. They showed footage of the snowflakes successfully converging into the five Olympic rings.

It was rehearsal footage and Russian officials admitted to using the faux footage, not what really happened. Talk about your Sochi problems.

By the way, speaking of performances, it did include musical numbers from T.A.T.U, Tokio, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs. No, that’s not the name of a Russian boy band. The ACTUAL choir from the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs.

The song they sang—“Get Lucky” by Daft Punk and Pharrell.

By the way, that part NBC cut. Spoilsports…

Other than that, the Opening Ceremonies were explicitly Russian. The musical performances, the appearance of Peter the Great who was influential in making Russia into an empire, the Soviet-era imagery, Vladimir Putin, Russian Odyssey, floating trains, the Moscow and Red Square images, etc. The whole thing screamed Siberia!

It was a nice journey throughout Russian history—without the parts of Russian history that the state broadcasters probably wish we didn’t know about. It was about the idea of a reinvented Russia, but Beijing sold us the same story too about a reinvented China in 2008.

Fittingly enough, one of the stray dogs that Sochi officials have been killing off throughout the city—wandered its way as well into the Opening Ceremony.

And speaking of animals, Sochi’s three official mascots, a leopard, a rabbit, and a bear were all seen in a king sized format….skating. Auditioning for the Russian women’s hockey team, I guess…

The three top dignitaries of these games all spoke—Putin, Thomas Bach, the new IOC president, and Dmitry Chernyshenko, the Sochi 2014 chairman.

As for the Parade of Nations, it was based on the Russian alphabet, hence the reason why countries such as China and Canada were seen after Iceland, Iran, and Italy. So, for those used to the traditional A-B-C order of the Parade of Nations, you were thrown a Tim Wakefield-style knuckleball last night.

Or, yesterday afternoon depending on where you were.

It was rumoured that when the Opening Ceremony reached its end, that Alina Kabaeva, the girlfriend of Vladimir Putin, would light the Olympic cauldron. Actually, those honors were given to Vladislav Tretiak and Irina Rodnina, both three time gold medal winners in hockey and figure skating, respectively. Tretiak’s golds came in 1972 (Sapporo), 1976 (Innsbruck), 1984 (Sarajevo). He also won silver in 1980 in Lake Placid—the same year as the 1980 Summer Games in…Moscow.

Rodnina won her gold medals in ’72, ’76, and ’80 and is currently a member of Putin’s United Russia party, the equivalent of the Republicans in the states. Immediately, her previous controversial Twitter photo of her holding a banana in front of a picture of the Obamas went viral.

The cauldron, which surprisingly resembles Stade Olympique from 1976 in Montreal, was eventually lit, fireworks exploded from the Stadium and in the waters near the Black Sea, and the Games officially began.

By the way, there a lot of things we can say about Sochi, but at least it was the town that gave us Maria Sharapova, who herself also carried the Olympic torch at one point at yesterday’s Ceremony. She will be working with NBC throughout the two weeks of the Games and has said she’ll be cheering for Russia throughout these Olympics.

If for nothing else, thank you Sochi.