February 23, 2010

The Nation’s Third Oldest College Newspaper

Volume 80, Issue 10

Somber moments at the 2010 Olympic opening ceremony

Photo courtesy of Jeff Wilcox

Photo courtesy of Jeff Wilcox

Amidst some sadness, the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver officially started with the opening ceremony on Feb. 12. Georgian Nodar Kumaritashvili, a luger, died after crashing into a steel pole during a practice round only a few hours before the ceremonies.

In tribute to their teammate, the remaining Georgian team wore black armbands in the ceremony. Jacques Rogge, the International Olympic Committee chairman, briefly paid tribute to Kumaritashvili and led the stadium in a moment of silence for the athlete as flags were lowered to half-mast.

A few changes were made to the ceremonies from the usual format. This year's ceremony was held indoors, with the athletes processing in before the main show, thus allowing the show really to be primarily for the athletes and not just the general television audience.

Four torch-lighters participated this year, as opposed to the single torch-lighter usually used. The four Canadians chosen for this honor were hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, skier Nancy Greene, basketball all-star Steve Nash and speed skater Catriona LeMay.

Most of the evening went off without a hitch, except the torch-lighting portion. One of the four arms supporting the torch cauldron failed to rise from the ground, leaving only three legs to be lit. This made it so that only three of the four torch-lighters could help light the torch.

The arm closest to LeMay did not rise up, so she smiled and saluted the crowd with her torch.

The IOC has rules that the Olympic flame must be continually burning during the game and visible from all vicinities, so an external torch was lit after the ceremony by Gretzky.

Keeping with the spirit of entertainment for the athletes, each spectator was given a "fan participation kit," which included a white cloak, flashlight, Canadian flag, and drum. The idea behind the cloak was to use it as a backdrop for the Parade of Nations, as each section of the stadium had a different flag projected on it. The flashlight came with instructions to follow the "section leader" and flash it on and off to create a Northern Lights effect. The drum was used during the Nelly Furtado and Bryan Adams duet, and also came in handy before the ceremony.

The ceremony also included aboriginal Canadian dancers from the host first nations - the Lil'wat, Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh nations - along with a technical light show that utilized the whole stadium to showcase special effects. Musical and theatrical performances were staged in addition to a poetry reading and voiceovers of Donald Sutherland scattered throughout the presentation.

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