The Olympic opening ceremony is a tradition and an opportunity for the host country to show revel itself to the world. China spared no expense with the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics. China went as far as to impose restriction on traffic, change the weather with cloud seeding, and brought an army, literally, of performers. In contrast, the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics where a more tone down event plagued with technical difficulties.
It has to be said that the death of the Georgian luge rider Nodar Kumaritashvili could have been prevent. Nodar died during a practice run, the video of his death has been shared, tweeted, and commented online. There has been a large amount of luge crashes where luger sustained concussions and memory loss. I am no luge expert, loogie yes, luge no but I know that for many athletes just attending the Olympics and walking in the Parade of Nations is a highlight of their Olympic careers.
The Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics started with a count down. Then a snow border slides down the stadium and jumps through the Olympic rings to welcome everybody to the winter games. The Royal Mounted Police brought out a large Canadian flag. As the mounties settle in place, there was a procession of First Nations. The ceremony started out with four distinct Canadian first nations welcoming and greeting the audience to the Olympic games in their indigenous language. The four host first nations stood near four large ice totems. The number four is prevalent in the symbolism of the opening ceremony. The procession of indigenous nations included the Inuit, the first nations of the prairies, the first nations of the east. It felt like an Olympic Pow Wow as the members of the First Nations were dressed in full regalia and danced.
After the Parade of the First Nations, the Parade of the Nations begins. One red carpet aspect of the Parade of the Nations that I enjoy is seeing the different custom from each different delegation. The delegation from Azerbaijan had snow pants that looked liked someone threw up on a Hawaiian shirts. The Cayman Islands represented with one athlete. The whole of China with a population of 1.3 Billion has a contingent of 90 athletes. The Czech Republic brought 92 athletes with a population of a little over 10 million, they also won the gold medal with the worst outfit, beating Azerbaijan. Finland had what looked as a winter wonderland camouflage maze on their jacket. French were the most stylish, a white parka jacket with the team colors on the side. The Georgian wore black armband in memory of their fallen team mate Nodar Kumaritashvili who died crash his sled in a test run. India with 1.1 billion people only had 3 athletes and they were warring brown fez looking hats. The outfits of the Italian team were black Fascist looking coats with beige turtle necks underneath, I didn’t know if they were the Italian Olympic delegation of the secret police. The USA represented with 216 athletes strong wearing Ralph Lauren’s Polo parkas with beanies. The beanies had little motifs of mouses and small American flags.
After the Parade of the Nations, the opening ceremony was more poetic than spectacular. A single Native American wearing nothing but white clothes enters the arena. More First Nations people emerge in what seems like snow, like nomads in a storm in the Northwestern territories of Canada. Then the aurora borealis appeared, projected on a canvases that dropped from the ceiling. Then a giant polar bear, made of ice and lights, like a constellation emerges from the ground. Then the four totem poles become tree trunks and the aurora borealis become the branches of trees. At this point, modern Europeans dance contemporary dance as Sarah McLaughlin sings.
I thought the ceremony was over but then a blue and white canoe descended from the ceiling with a fiddler on the canoe casting a show on a image of a full moon. A fiddler in the canoe challenges his shadow casted on the moon to play the violin. Maple leaves litter the floor as violin players and dancer dance a la river dance. In the next scene, slopes emerge from the floor, three ring of skaters go endlessly around the what seems like representations of mountains. Skiers, snow boarders, and other athletes surf down the slope of the mountain that emerged from the center of the arena. Then out of the center of the mountain, a Canadian emerges and recites slam poetry… At the end of the ode to Canadian identity, torch bearers gather in the shape of a maple leaf… Oh, Please. Oh, Canada.
The 2010 Olympics Opening Ceremony can’t officially begin without boring speeches by the head of the International Olympic Committee. After some speeches and then more speeches the games officially begin. Four famous Canadian athletes emerge as torch bearer gather around the arena, with Wayne Gretzky being the last one. After a minute pause, three pillars emerge from the floor. Four should have emerged but due to technical difficulties only three emerged. The pillars move and join to form an ice crystal structure. The torch bearers light the cauldron and it lights up into a torch of fire and ice.