Sochi 2014: The Opening Ceremonies

What a night! I had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attend the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Winter Games last night

What a night! I had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attend the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Winter Games last night and it was totally thrilling from beginning to end.

The site of the ceremonies was the Fisht Olympic Stadium, a massive structure located in the coastal Olympic village.  After filing in, spectators received a program for the night’s events, and an LED medal that flickered on and off in various colours over the course of the evening. The pre-show entertainment included the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs police choir performing a rendition of Daft Punk’s Get Lucky and an appearance by pop duo Tatu. Interesting choices, don’t you think?

Without a doubt, the best part of the night was watching the Canadian athletes enter the stadium. What a proud moment! There were so many Canucks in the audience’everyone was on their feet and cheering. I think we surprised the Russians sitting behind us with how loud we were!

During the evening, I had the pleasure of sitting next to Cheryl Simundson, mom of Olympic gold medallist Kaillie Humphries (that’s Cheryl pictured below with Kaillie’s dad, Ray). The night before, at the opening of the P&G Family Home in the Olympic Village, Simundson had been surprised with a ticket to the opening ceremonies, as part of P&G’s ‘Thank You Mom’ program. (P&G is also hosting me at these Games). Although this is Humphries’ third Olympics, it was the first time at an opening ceremony for her mom. ‘I’m unbelievably proud, as a mother first, and then as a Canadian,’ said Simundson. ‘I wasn’t just waving at the TV, I was waving at Kaillie!’

Once the athletes took their seats, the spectacle continued. The theme was the history of Russia as seen through the eyes of a girl named Lyubov (meaning ‘love’), played by an 11-year-old from Krasnodar, the capital of this region. The show had a bit of everything: a twinkling Russian troika’a chariot drawn by three horses’floating across the stadium carrying the sun; colourful Russian folk arts and a street circus; Peter the Great’s mighty fleet sailing over the stage; and a ballroom scene from War and Peace showcasing Russia’s infamous ballet dancers.

We then moved forward to the 20th century, through Russian painting, architecture and science. Another highlight was the end of the show, when the stadium was lit up with giant, glowing sculptures depicting a skater, skier and hockey player flipping and twisting across the stadium.  Then, when the cauldron was lit, there was an explosion of fireworks inside and outside the stadium. It was magical.

Let the Games begin!

–Joana Lourenço