Olympic 2014 Parade of Nations: Sochi Spectacle Provides Fresh Take on Old Event

Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistFebruary 7, 2014

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 07:  The United States Olympic team enters the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Fisht Olympic Stadium on February 7, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

The parade of nations is a longstanding Olympic tradition that the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia were able to revitalize with a breath of fresh air.

While an amazing spectacle where competitors from around the globe are able to convene under one roof and represent their country as the highlight of any Olympic Games, the festivities do have a knack for dragging on a bit too long.

That changed in Sochi.

Liz Clarke of The Washington Post explains the visionary behind the re-worked event and how it came to be:

But to Konstantin Ernst, creative producer of the Sochi Opening Ceremony, it was “one of the longest and more boring parts of the ceremony.” So he revised to make it more “dynamic,” giving a preview in a press briefing Friday.

Designed to appeal to the worldwide TV audience more so than the 40,000 spectators at Fisht Stadium, the Parade of Nations will be set against an image of Earth, projected on a giant screen, as seen from outer space. Each time a country is announced, the Earth will rotate so that particular country is in focus. Then, on the stadium floor, a ramp will open up, and that nation’s athletes will emerge from the heart of their homeland.

The results speak for themselves.

As is the custom, Greece came out first as the birth place of the Games, and the quickened pace was immediately noticeable as another tradition was upheld with countries coming out based on the Cyrillic alphabet.

Outside of the faster pace, over-the-top costumes kept things entertaining for the event now aimed at the spectators not in attendance. Busted Coverage provided one such example:

As did Ben Rothenberg of The New York Times:

The quicker pace was personified when the United States hit the stage:

GIF courtesy of B/R.

Perhaps the pace was too quick, as a member of Austria's convoy took an unfortunate spill on the biggest stage of them all, as captured by the Twitter account Sochi Problems (well played):

All things considered, the parade was a resounding success as around 3,000 athletes found their way from one end of the stage to the other in stunning fashion at a pace the world had never seen.

Other outstanding complementary pieces, such as performances, speeches and fireworks, helped to bring the reportedly $50 billion package together, but it was the sped up parade of nations that stole the show.

Just as the Games themselves must continue to evolve (the 2014 Games marks the first time women are permitted to compete in ski jumping), so too must the performances modernize to reflect the culture of the global community.

On Friday, that maturation was on full display as the nation's top athletes bound across the global stage before beginning the biggest Games to date.


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