2014 Winter Olympics: Opening Ceremonies

(Contributed photo)

(Contributed photo)

Russia had a lot of obstacles to overcome leading into the Sochi 2014 Winter Games — human rights violations, anti-gay sentiments, suspicions of corruption, terrorist threats, the poorly constructed/unfinished conditions in the hotels and the most expensive games to date were just a few of the things that made many skeptical of whether they would be able to pull it off.

If the opening ceremonies are any indication however, then Putin can breathe a sigh of relief because they were truly a sight to behold.

Although, the ceremony wasn’t without its share of hiccups, like the snowflakes transforming to the Olympic rings with one malfunctioning, the stunning visuals and sheer scope more than made up for it. Detailing the long and storied history of Russia along with its geography and athletic and artistic achievements, the show followed a nine-year old girl named Lubov as she lead the audience through it.

What was truly one of the major spectacles of the night was the stage itself with its floor visuals that were able to bring to life the varied landscapes of Russia as well as make the parade of nations that much more interesting. Having each country enter from a ramp in the middle of the stadium floor with a massive night time sky map of the country entering on the floor made for a much more visually stunning entrance than previous Olympics.

The ceremony then continued through Russian history and achievements over the years, with the Soviet era being a major spectacle point despite being an era that is not regarded as a positive by many. Nevertheless, the giant hammer and sickle symbolizing communism, the space race and industrialization showcased Russia’s entry into the modern era in spectacular fashion.

As the ceremony came to an end, it was time to bring in the Olympic torch, which was carried in by Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova. Pole vaulter Elena Isinbaeva, wrestler Alexandr Karelin and gymnast Alina Kabaeva were among the others who carried the flame before finally being handed off to hockey legend Vladislav Tretiak and figure skater Irina Rodnina to ultimately the torch atop the stadium.

All in all, these were one of the better winter opening ceremonies to date that really showed that Russia is ready for an event of this magnitude. Despite all the controversy surrounding the games, the next 17 days are ultimately about national pride, sportsmanship and the uniting of nations in the name of sport while we the viewer’s cheer on our athletes as they take on their dreams.

Not that these controversial issues should be pushed under the rug or forgotten, but that the games themselves deserve to be the spotlight and like new IOC President Thomas Bach said, “Olympic sports unite the people … embracing human diversity and great unity.”

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