Winter Olympics

Olympic Opening Ceremony 2014: Most Exciting Features of Traditional Event

Fireworks are seen as spectators arrive for the rehearsal of the opening ceremony at the Fisht Olympic Stadium at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
David Goldman/Associated Press
Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistFebruary 5, 2014

There are few events in the world that come with as much spectacle as the opening ceremony of the Olympics. Millions of dollars and thousands of people will help create the biggest live show of the calendar year, and it is certain to be a good one.

Sochi will attempt to dazzle the world with a show of its most talented performers. This will be followed by the traditional features of the opening ceremonies that make the event so inspiring to watch every two years. 

Of course, we could go without the long speeches that do nothing but make us want to change the channel.

Still, the event has enough to make everyone follow along. Here is a look at the important information followed by the best parts of the celebration.

 

What: 2014 Olympic Opening Ceremony

When: Friday, Feb. 7 at 11 a.m. ET

Where: Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi, Russia

TV: NBC, 7:30 p.m. ET

 

Main Show

BEIJING - AUGUST 08:  Performers take part in the the Opening Ceremony for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games at the National Stadium on August 8 in Beijing, China.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Ever since the incredible show put together by China at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, the opening ceremony has become a chance to one-up the prior host nation. The bar is set high for Sochi, but the organizers will attempt to top it.

The show will feature 3,000 performers putting together an event entitled "Welcome to Sochi." Lukas I. Alpert of the Wall Street Journal provides details about what to expect:

A fleet of ships under the command of Peter the Great, scenes recreated from Nikolai Gogol’s masterwork “Dead Souls” and a variety of Russian fairy tales will be part of a special effects-laden event that will also feature plenty of ice, reports Russian newspaper Izvestia.

Besides the main act, the organizers will also bring in some top talent from around Russia, as reported by Viktoria Ivanova of the Daily Telegraph:

The Russian Ministry of Culture is expected to announce more details about the organisation of the event next month, but it already seems likely that big stars, such as viola player Yuri Bashmet and conductor Valery Gergiev, will appear.

[...]

Pianist Denis Matsuev also announced his involvement, saying: “For sure, I am participating in the Olympics. But how? I will not disclose secrets. Naturally, I will play the piano and root for our athletes.”

At the end of the singing and dancing, fans will see a brilliant fireworks show to wrap things up. Matt Galloway of CBC caught a sneak peek of the rehearsal:

The expectations are high for this show, so it will be up to everyone putting it together to live up to the high hopes from everyone watching at home. 

 

Parade of Nations

ATHENS - AUGUST 13:  Flag bearer Nicolas Gill leads the delegation from Canada as they walk during the parade of nations, part of the opening ceremonies for the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games on August 13, 2004 at the Sports Complex Olympic Stadium in A
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The parade of nations is one of the things that make the Olympics so great. The idea is that it does not matter if you win seven gold medals or come in last place in your event, everyone who reached this stage should be proud of their accomplishments.

Greece will start the parade as they always do as the originators of the modern Olympics. This is an honor that will never be taken away from them after hosting the event in Athens in 1896. 

The rest of the nations involved will follow in alphabetical order, with the exception of Russia which will come through last as this year's host.

Somewhere along the way, the United States will make their entrance wearing some interesting sweaters made by Ralph Lauren. Bobsled driver Jamie Greubel posed with the manikins in her wardrobe:

Then there is Shaun White, who managed to look at least a little cooler in his outfit:

It is unknown who will have the honor of holding the flag for the United States at the parade, but that will also be a prestigious designation for one deserving athlete. Still, everyone who walks in front of the fans deserves quite a bit of recognition.

 

Lighting of Olympic Torch

David J. Phillip/Associated Press

The Olympics cannot officially start until the torch is lit, a tradition that dates back to the ancient games.

On the way to Sochi, the torch traveled throughout Russia and reached great heights (literally). RIA Novosti provided a look at climbers taking the flame up Mt. Elbrus:

Eventually, the fire will be lit on this official torch outside of Fisht Olympic Stadium:

It is not yet know who will light the flame, but it is certain to be one of many popular athletes of Russian origin. What we do know is that the lighting of the torch will be enough to officially begin the two week spectacle that is the Olympics.

While it might seem like a silly tradition to some, it is one thing that links a rich sports history throughout the world. This makes it an exciting event and one to make sure you do not miss on Feb. 7.

 

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

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