Friday, February 12, 2010

Olympic Opening Ceromonies

Selected highlights from the start of the 2010 Games

Steve Nash takes part in final leg of Torch run
Wayne Gretzky leads flame lighting
Mechanical issues slow the lighting of the flame
Gretzky lights the main cauldron in the Vancouver city-scape

It would be very hard if not impossible to beat the opening ceremonies of the the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing. Vancouver is making a strong statement that the ceremonies don't have to be large to have an impact.

As the venues and dates of the previous games are announced to start the show, you are almost forced to remember that what we are seeing has been built on all the previous games.

Vancouver had to get the blessing of all the first inhabitants of Canada to even have the games. It seemed symbolic that representatives from all the tribes would welcome the athletes as they paraded into the stadium.

Greece in blue and white started the parade of athletes some of them with Canadian flags painted on their faces.

The parade is almost bitter-sweet for me. The Bahamas was attempting to have a competitor in the games in snowboarding. This would have been the first time. The snowboarder missed the cut but he still made the country proud just making a push. Maybe the next games in Sochi will be his breakout.

A sad moment during the parade of athletes got those packed in the stadium to their feet, even Governor-General of the Canada H.E. Michaƫlle Jean--the representative of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II.

Georgian athlete Nodar Kumaritashvili was killed during a luge training run at the controversial Whistler Sliding Center just hours before the opening ceremony. The 21-year-old lost control of his sled near the end of the run. He was thrown off the track and crashed into unpadded steel near the finish. Emergency crews tried to revived him and NBC showed bloodied pictures of the attempt.

As the Georgian delegation entered the flag seemed to almost limp in the bearer's hands, almost as if it knew the weight on the hearts of the rest of the delegation.

A black ribbon was tied near the finial of their flag. Delegation members wore black scarfs and black armbands. Some looked as if it took everything to not cry.

It must have been the toughest walk for some of them. But they really are the embodiment of the Olympic oath from back in 1924: "We will take part in the Olympic Games in a spirit of chivalry, for the honour of our country and for the glory of sport."

The Olympics have not been kind to Georgia. If you remember, the delegation from Georgia stayed and competed at the 2008 Beijing Games even as when Russia invaded their country.

On another note. A new version of the iconic song "We are the world" was released to during the games to support relief efforts in Haiti. It was ironic that the Head of State for these opening ceremonies was H.E.
Michaƫlle Jean because of her Haitian decent. Canada is a part of the Commonwealth of Nations which has its head Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. She was invited but could not attend. There for Jean took her place.

Now on to the opening ceremonies and the presentation. But first from a journalism point of view the producers must have just finished reading Al Tompkins book "aim for the heart"--because they said wanted to tell the story of the whole by concentrating on one character. Interesting.

A between 30 and 40 million dollars was spent on the production and everyone was a part of the show. Everyone in the stadium had a little light and was a part of the background.

The iceberg in the stadium was breathtaking even if it was simply lights on the floor. But seeing what seemed to be whales gliding across the stadium floor was amazing as producers combined lights with fog and bursts of air to make it seem as if the whales were clearing their blowholes.
"Just another miracle, just another ordinary miracle day," sarah mcglacsi sang to end the firs egmen

the next segment was full of very folksy music--fiddles, tap dancing and clapping. Most of the dancers wore plaid and maple leaves fell from the sky.

The cultural diversity of Canada was apparent. Many of the dancers were black, Asian and Hispanic. The country's culturual tolerance as also evident with many of the participants displaying their tattoos, non-traditional piercing and grunge-styled clothing.

The third segment was called: "Who owns the wind?" The character for this segment was a little boy and through the marvel of technology had him running on the prairie and then taking off in the sky. He even did air cartwheels with Joni Mitchell's song "Both sides now" powering the action.

"Peaks of Endeavor" was the next segment and meant to honor the candian rockies. Snow boarders and skies suspenved in the air as streaks of lights seemed to be pulled around them by inline skaters who represented ice-skaters.

"And yes we say ZED instead of Z," belted by a Canadian poet to end this segment was another reminder of the country's diversity and genteelness.

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