Beautiful opening, talking about Russia’s size, and what it has done over the years, and its arts and crafts. A fascinating country. I have always thought it might be an interesting place to visit. Never on the top of my list, and I expect there will be some controversy over these games, particularly if the Russian athletes don’t win everything they have entered themselves in. Already I know they are pressuring the Russians, especially in ice skating, to win it all. They also have the attitude already that whether they win the hockey, or lose, there is nothing else so important.
Bob Costas speaks about how politics play such a large spot in these Olympics, but I do not appreciate that. I think the Olympics should be about the athletes, the competition, the youth that come from all over the world to compete with their bodies perfection in their training. I fear, however, some things that might happen due to terrorists and rules against who Putin wants in his country. They cannot already leave off the boycotts of the games in Moscow, and then in Los Angeles, all under Reagan’s regime. That is the first step towards making us all think about politics and a malevolent world of uncaring people. My hope is that the feeling of camaraderie among the athletes themselves will show foolishness for what it is.
Costas interviewing Obama. The delegation to Sochi includes Brian Boitano and Janet Napolitano; Billie Jean King had to cancel because of her ill mother, who today died. But there are several representatives who are homosexuals. While that may seem to be daring, asking for problems, I agree that the largest athlete contingent from America has the right to show our ability to accept that these people should not be discriminated against. Now the question arises as to whether it will have any bearing in future negotiations between Putin and Obama.
I have heard a rumour that Putin is going to allow his girlfriend to light the Olympic flame. I surely hope this is just a rumour, but we will, of course, know by the end of the evening. If so, I really think it will be a slap at great athletes everywhere.
I appreciate that Obama mentioned the silver and bronze medalists along with the gold. Not everyone can be a winner of a medal. As far as I am concerned, I think everyone who gets to the Olympics and tries their best is a winner. Even the young lady who broke her leg yesterday in the beginning skiing, who when she woke up, asked if she was still an Olympian. She is going to march in the parade of nations tonight on crutches. I believe she is definitely an Olympian, and a winner, and though disappointed for her that she won’t get to compete, she has already proven her mettle to me.
Maria Sharapova, tennis great who came from Sochi, and Mary Carillo, who is a fave of mine – I look forward to her reporting from every Olympics – are sharing a walk around Sochi. Mary always goes for foods to talk about. They went to the circus that has been performing there for 40 years. I am expecting Mary to show me on television many sights from around Sochi and nearby sites.
First TV shot of the ugly sweaters. Calvin Klein should be ashamed. But at least they are made in the USA. Mary interviewing some of the athletes, Shani Davis, Gracie Gold, saw a shot of Shaun White, who really looks hugely grown up, and quite handsome, J. R. Celski, either hockey or speed-skating, who looks up to Apolo Ohno.
This is an open stadium. Meredith Veira who is co-hosting the opening with Matt Lauer, said it is really cold inside. Everyone is wearing jackets – I wonder why she isn’t. Lovely black top, but vanity should come second when it is cold. Some great scenes of past winners biting their medals. Too bad it’s a McDonald’s commercial. Ceremonies finally starting. A video put together by Russia touting some of its wonders and offerings to the world. Lake Baikul, Gagarin, Catherine Empress of Russia, Tschaikovsky, Nabokov, MIR space station, Diaghilev’s Russian Ballet, Sputnik, Tolstoy, Ushanka, Fisht, Khokloma, Tsiolkovsky, Chekhov, Chagall, Schusov, Pushkin, We, Lubov/Love, Eisenstein, Parachute, Russia. I didn’t get every reference, but the little girl was going down the Russian alphabet. I took a semester of Russian at UTexas, and love what I can remember. An eleven-year-old girl is standing in the middle of the arena, and is supposed to be representing Russia through a series of dreams. There are nine time zones in Russia, and it takes ten hours to fly from one end to another.
Stranger in Paradise being sung in Russian; seven fast sets coming in to represent the different landscapes of Russia, or I think this is probably more the Soviet Union. Politically, it no longer exists, but I think most of the people’s call themselves citizens of Russia. I wonder if the same anthem will be played for all Russian gold medals. Reindeer, Siberian Husky. This is truly glorious. I hope most of my readers will have seen this. This little girl is floating high in the air, and singing. Wonderful costuming. Lots of Doctor Zhivago scenery. Snowflakes, five of them, four opened out into Olympic rings. First glitch. But who cares, it is gorgeous.
I cannot write it in Russian, but Sdrasdvitya is hello, Pajalsta is please, Spaseba is thank you.
Putin is now being introduced. Everything is being spoken in Russian, English, and French, the official language of the Olympics. Russian anthem. This is the anthem I remember as being sung in The Hunt For Red October, the movie. Being sung by a men’s choir from a monastery. It amazes me how many national flags are the good old Red White and Blue. Cosmonauts raised the flag. People in red, white, and blue lighted costumes moved in ways to cause the flag on the floor to be furling.
March of the nations is next.
Largest gathering of winter Oylmpians in Winter Olympics ever.
There is a huge map lighted, and it will appear that each the athletes of each country will be coming up out of their country. The map itself will be moving around to the entrance. First in is Greece, of course, because the Olympics began in Greece. They don’t have a huge number, but they apparently have some in the skiing events. Australia; Austria; Azerbaijan; Albania; Andorra; Argentina; Armenia; British Virgin Islands; Belarus; Belgium; Bermuda; Bulgaria; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Brazil; Macedonia (they are using the Cyrillic alphabet and Russia names); Great Britain (mostly Scots, according to announcers); Hungary; Venezuela; Virgin Islands US; Germany (prettiest uniforms so far); Hong Kong; Georgia; Denmark; Dominica; Zimbabwe; Israel; Iran; Ireland; Iceland; Spain; Italy; Kazakhstan; Cayman Islands; Canada (they look slick); Cyprus; Kyrgyzstan; China; Latvia; Lebanon; Lithuania; Liechtenstein; Luxembourg; Malta; Morocco; Mexico; Moldova; Monaco; Mongolia; Independent Olympic Participants (has a man from India involved); Nepal; Netherlands; New Zealand; Norway; Pakistan; Paraguay; Peru; Poland (looking good); Portugal; South Korea; Romania; San Marino; Serbia; Slovakia; Slovenia (pretty uniforms); United States (and ugly sweaters); Tajikistan; Thailand; Chinese Taipei (Taiwan); Timor-Leste; Togo; Tonga (uniforms nice, but won’t win best); Turkey; Uzbekistan; Ukraine (bright yellow/gray/blue); Philippines; Finland (great colour blue); France; Croatia; Montenegro; Czech Republic; Chile; Switzerland; Sweden; Estonia; Jamaica; Japan; Russia. 87 countries by my count. Several of the countries you wouldn’t expect for winter Olympics have just one entrant, and almost all of them are entered in Alpine Skiing. Russia has some people in long fur-lines red or white coats, some athletes in shorter dark jackets, all wearing bright red pants. Canada was dressed in red jackets with black highlights and black pants. Germany has rainbow coloured jackets, but not for the gays, just what they wore. Ukraine wore gray jacket and slacks, snowflake designs, bright yellow scarfs, and blue hats. Several others were notable, but these are the ones I remember.
Some sort of video showing the building of Russia’s superstructure; Meredith says they are all well-known actors in Russia, that they people there will recognize them, if not the world. Now the Olympic Stadium. And more theatrical showings on the floor of the arena. Animatronic white lighted horses galloping through air in stadium. Beautiful onion domes representing Russian Orthodox church. St. Basil’s Cathedral of Moscow. Sorry, I don’t understand all of the representations, but it is very pretty and interesting. Loving the Russian dancers. Tumblers. Still the little girl representing dreaming. I keep wanting to yell “tovrich”, which means “comrade” (I think).
NBC apparently left out some stuff for their commercials, and lack of time, but there is a bit about Peter the great. Ships on water. I am hearing a lot of what is being seen is some sort of computer images being projected on the arena floor. Many of militant images through the ages. Real people acting on images and maps that move across the floor. Great ballroom scene from War and Peace now being portrayed. Now the ballet, a scene from Orpheus. So different from gray Moscow. Beautiful people instead of what we read about big women with mustaches and fat men literally throwing their weight around. I think this is still representing the times of Peter the Great.
Now revolution comes to Russia. Revolts against the Tsars. Still being shown through ballet. Revolt against Imperial Russia. 20th century Russia. Industrialization. Uniformity. Propaganda. Lenin. WW I. Turmoil. WW II. Stalin. Siege of Leningrad/St. Petersburg. Russia lost 20 million people in WW II. The Iron Curtain. The Cold War.
I do not wish to comment further on this part of the show. I have opinions of how all this came about that would not be popular among many/most Americans. Perhaps we don’t understand the loss of the breakup of the Soviet Union. But those countries that broke off and became states are now very much like it is in our own country. Many countries with their own presidents are very like our own US, with many states and their own governors, wanting to break away from a central government. And play by their own individual rules and laws, and foregoing a great nation.
But these are the Olympic Games, and I want to stick with the athletes and their competitions, and leave off the politics.
Welcome of the world to Sochi, by president of Olympics organization in Russia. Thomas Bach, President of IOC, welcomes the athletes and the world to the 22nd Winter Olympic Games. Thank yous to everyone who put the games together for Sochi. Have respect for the ideals of the Olympics – tolerance, peace, etc. Leave politics to political meetings. Vladimir Putin opens games. Red white and blue lights and fireworks.
Symbolic Dove of Peace. Swan Lake music. Floating cages dancing, whirling, over women dressed in white feathery dresses, now representing birds in flight.
The Olympic flag is being brought in. Carried by assorted Russian dignitaries. Listing of names too brief for me to catch them all. Cosmonauts, sports figures, not sure who all they are.
Now the Olympic Hymn, sung by a Russian soprano, Anna Netrebko, from St. Petersburg, with male backup. They are all in white, she is in a beautiful blue gown. She is singing in Russian. The language does not matter. I get goose bumps every time I hear it. The athletes are all standing for it, taking pictures.
Another interlude called Olympic Gods, white lighter skaters on blue ice. Patterns. And atomic nucleus glowing above. Lights in the air portraying various Olympic winter sports participants. They really are looking like huge constellations in the sky. This is amazing technology; I heard there are things being done here that are new to science. Lights are flashing in time to some great musical bits.
The Coca Cola that raised so much hob during the Super Bowl is being aired right now. It is great.
The Olympic torch is being brought in right now. Maria Sharapova brought it in. Hands it off to Yelena Isinbeyeva; to Alexander Karelin; to Elina Kabayeva (apparently Putin’s girlfriend); to Irina Rodnina and Vladislav ???). Irina Rodnina and Alexander Zeitsev were Russian pairs skaters, and two of the first Russians champions I’ve known since I started watching the Olympics. She and Vladislav ??? are carrying the torch to the cauldron outside the stadium. They are both lighting it. Lovely. Anyway, all of the names are of Olympic champions over the years, and I guess that makes Putin’s girlfriend one of them. And I have just been informed by the announcers that the stadium is closed – not open as I thought at the beginning. Now the ring that had the glitch at the beginning has been fixes, and they just burst into something. Fireworks.
OK, that is the end of the opening ceremony. During the games, I will not be posting on a nightly basis, blow by blow, as I have done tonight. I will post every few days with highlights I remember, and medals counts. Probably also a few personal athlete stories I hear. Thank you for staying with me – one of my longest blogs ever. Peace out, and love to you all.