Before we begin, a warning for those of you who haven't been able to watch the Olympic opening ceremony yet: SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT!
OK, now that we've gotten that out of the way for the American audience, we can get started.
As you might expect, Sochi's opening to the 2014 Games was full of flash, patriotism, symbolism and a whole lot of excited Olympians. Heck, they even had fake snow inside the venue. And a rendition of War and Peace. And even a giant hammer and sickle.
If you were looking for understated, well, that's just not what the opening ceremony is about. But it certainly was memorable.
Of course, things didn't quite get started according to plan, as Bleacher Report UK notes:
Whoops. Of course, these things happen, and much of the ceremony went off without a hitch.
Philip Hersh of the Chicago Tribune—who was a champion with his pictures on Twitter during the event—passed along two photos from the beginning of the ceremony:
First volcano in opening ceremony pic.twitter.com/sAh46Jk1js— Philip Hersh (@olyphil) February 7, 2014
Human version of Russian flag during anthem pic.twitter.com/zEJwzu0GEY— Philip Hersh (@olyphil) February 7, 2014
Meanwhile, Time.com and J. David Ake of the Associated Press shared their perspectives of Team USA.
Of course, the Americans couldn't match the ovation given to Team Jamaica, likely only surpassed by the reception for the home country's athletes. From Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times:
Biggest cheers for Jamaica...of course..coolest guys in the room, flag bearer dancing and posing...— Bill Plaschke (@BillPlaschke) February 7, 2014
Bleacher Report UK posted a picture of the Jamaicans making their entrance:
Feel free to reference Cool Runnings at any time.
Of course, the Russians entered in style, as Plaschke described:
With red, white and blue lights flashing in stands while music booms and fans cheer, Russia entrance surely one of most memorable ever— Bill Plaschke (@BillPlaschke) February 7, 2014
The Sochi Games haven't been devoid of controversy, and the BBC World Service noted a possible protest by the German team:
Germany's rainbow outfits are interpreted by some as silent criticism of Russia's anti-gay laws - Germany denies this pic.twitter.com/KIFfnGf46i— BBC World Service (@bbcworldservice) February 7, 2014
MoniKa Platek of CBC Sports made herself a furry friend on the way into the stadium:
It remains to be seen if any American athletes tried to sneak in some Chobani yogurt.
Before long, the Olympic mascots took the stage. From the official Olympics Twitter account:
Yes, they remind me of the evil toys from Toy Story 3 as well.
And then the real pageantry began. Here's a picture of the Russian Interior Ministry choir, via The Washington Post:
There were fake snowflakes that didn't seem to be particularly appreciated by those in attendance, as Plaschke noted:
It's now "snowing" again, this time entire stadium geting soaked...soapy flakes that stink.....burn eyes...really?— Bill Plaschke (@BillPlaschke) February 7, 2014
A history of Russia commenced, as told through dance, music and huge displays. We start with this picture from Hersh:
Bouncing st Basils pic.twitter.com/ZTAAiQvodC— Philip Hersh (@olyphil) February 7, 2014
Mashable passed along this little dance number:
There was the Baltic Sea, as Mike Wise of The Washington Post shared:
Entire stadium floor becomes a roiling Baltic Sea. pic.twitter.com/M8sCyYrT1v— Mike Wise (@MikeWiseguy) February 7, 2014
There was War and Peace and, later, a nod to Russia's communist past, as shared by Hersh:
Ballroom scene from War and Peace pic.twitter.com/PCuW70xx3x— Philip Hersh (@olyphil) February 7, 2014
Who said the hammer and sickle were consigned to the past pic.twitter.com/xpXkWhefGq— Philip Hersh (@olyphil) February 7, 2014
Eventually, the Olympic torch entered the stadium. For the play-by-play, we turn to Wise:
Maria Sharapova enters the stadium with the flame. She hands to....— Mike Wise (@MikeWiseguy) February 7, 2014
.......two-time Olympic pole vault champion....she hands to Alexander Karelin, the Greco Roman guy beat by Rulon Gardner in Sydney— Mike Wise (@MikeWiseguy) February 7, 2014
he hands to some other woman, then to a champion figure skater, then to....— Mike Wise (@MikeWiseguy) February 7, 2014
Tretiak, the guy pulled from goal against the Americans in 1980.. This is too awesome. They're putting him back in the game, 34 years later— Mike Wise (@MikeWiseguy) February 7, 2014
Oh my goodness, he is running out of the stadium Irina Rodnina. They light it together, boom! The flame is lit, the fireworks going off.— Mike Wise (@MikeWiseguy) February 7, 2014
Here's the torch being lit, via Jonathan Tannenwald of Philly Sport:
All in all, the opening ceremony sounded like a success. Perhaps Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal said it best:
Lots of talk about what Sochi lacks, readiness, etc. But this ceremony has been a fantastic tour through Russian history. #sochi— Brian Costa (@BrianCostaWSJ) February 7, 2014
Now, it's time for the Games to begin. Well, technically, for them to continue, since they already started before the opening ceremony. But, you know, now it feels like they are really beginning.
Here's hoping for a memorable and safe Sochi Games.