The 2014 Winter Olympics officially began on Thursday, but the start of the Sochi Games feels much more real now that the Opening Ceremony has taken place and the Olympic Torch has been lit on Friday.
As per the Associated Press, figure skater Irina Rodnina and hockey goalie Vladislav Tretiak, a pair of three-time gold medalist, finally lit the cauldron in what was an amazing display of theatrics and pyrotechnical feats.
BREAKING: Hockey great Vladislav Tretiak, 3-time gold medalist Irina Rodnina light Sochi Games cauldron.— The Associated Press (@AP) February 7, 2014
While the conclusion was one of the best moments of an evening chock-full of memorable highlights, it’s worth it to take a minute and look back at all of the greatness that Sochi provided during the Opening Ceremony.
Let’s take a look at the top highlights from the big event, from the start all the way through the lighting of the torch.
Opening With the Alphabet
Russia showed the world its traditional Cyrillic alphabet and decided to go one step further by emphasizing all the wonderful feats that the men and women that hail from the country have accomplished.
Oksar Garcia of the Associated Press noted that composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and painter Wassily Kandinsky were just two of the many Russians featured during this segment of the event:
Ceremony kicking off with summary of Russian accomplishments set to each letter in the alphabet. Tchaikovsky, Kandinsky, etc. #Sochi2014— Oskar Garcia (@oskargarcia) February 7, 2014
Give credit to Konstantin Ernst, the creative director of the Opening Ceremony, for putting on a close to flawless show. However, there was a slight hiccup during the event.
Five large snowflakes ascended to the top of Fischt Olympic Stadium before beginning to transform into the five Olympic rings that symbolize these esteemed games. Unfortunately, one did not make the transition, and what would have likely been an awe-inspiring moment was quickly ushered out of the picture.
Russia has a very long and vast history, which was evident when a 600-year-old choir was brought up to sing the country’s national anthem.
The Sretensky Monastery Choir was brought out to serenade the globe with a stunning and beautiful rendition of “The State Anthem of the Russian Federation.”
To make the moment even grander, hundreds of people wore red, white and blue lights to form the Russian flag on the field of the stadium, as you can see in this photo courtesy of Michelle Kaufman of the Miami Herald:
Team USA Appears
The 2014 Sochi Games will feature the most athletes and most events of any previous Winter Olympics, so it’s no surprise that the United States sent a small army of participants over to Russian soil to compete.
Ken Fang of Awful Announcing pointed out that the BBC announcer called the Yankees’ Ralph Lauren-designed uniform “loud”:
BBC's Hazel Irvine says "This is the loudest knitware we've seen." pic.twitter.com/5dRymGXolj— Ken Fang (@fangsbites) February 7, 2014
It definitely sent a message that the U.S.A. is serious about competing this year and should be right at the top of the overall medal standings when all is said and done.
In one of the more humorous moments of the Opening Ceremony, an athlete from Austria took a tumble on the flat ground of Fisht Olympic Stadium.
SochiProblems, the hilarious Twitter feed that has been documenting the various comedic issues arising in Sochi, tweeted out a photo from The Guardian:
Mascots Make Debut
The official mascots of the Sochi Games are a leopard, hare and bear, all of which made a larger than life appearance during the Opening Ceremony.
The Olympic Games used its official Twitter account to send out a picture of the polarizing animals:
Bryan Armen Graham of Sports Illustrated believes that these mascots are terrifying, a viewpoint that some may share and others may not:
The creative team behind the Opening Ceremony clearly put a lot of hard work making Fisht Olympic Stadium into a piece of artwork.
As you can see in photos below from Dmitry Chernyshenko, Nicholas Buckland, Christopher Spring and Jason Blevins, the result was absolutely stunning:
Fireworks boomed overhead to close things out, as per Great Britain’s official Olympic Twitter feed:
The lighting of the Olympic Torch was definitely one of the best moments of the Opening Ceremony.
Make sure you tune in tonight when the tape-delayed version of the Opening Ceremony airs on NBC at 7:30 p.m. ET.