Olympics Opening Ceremony 2014: Memorable Moments from Sochi Curtain-Raiser

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 7, 2014

Fireworks are seen over the Olympic Park during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Friday, Feb. 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Julio Cortez/Associated Press

If you live in the United States and are waiting to watch the opening ceremony for the 2014 Olympics, you should read no further.

For the most part, the opening ceremony for the Winter Olympics isn't as grand as its summer brethren. That didn't stop Russia from dazzling fans with an impressive array of musical numbers and playacting.

Rather than showing the event live, NBC is opting to present the opening ceremony in prime time on Friday night, so American viewers' only taste of the event is what they can read online.

For those who watched the opening ceremony or want to know what to look forward to, read on to see some of the most memorable moments.


History of Russia

Matt Dunham/Associated Press

Danny Boyle did a great job with the opening ceremony for the 2012 Olympics. It was both a great homage and send-up of Great Britain's history and pop culture.

Konstantin Ernst didn't follow the exact same blueprint, but he did try and fit a compact history of Russia into the Sochi opening ceremony.

There was music from Russian composers Igor Stravinsky, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Alexander Borodin and Georgi Sviridov. Elegant dance numbers also littered the ceremony. Fans were also treated to iconic images and reference points from throughout the country's history.

Some may bemoan the fact that the opening ceremony was merely an advertisement for Russia and only focused on the good things that have happened in the country.

David M. Herszenhorn of The New York Times made note of this:

Notably, Mr. Ernst designed a show that like Mr. Putin is not shy about embracing certain aspects of the Soviet past. Some of the most striking sketches involved an artistic view of the 20th century, glossing over some of Russia’s darkest times, with a focus instead on industrialism and the avant-garde.

Mr. Ernst had acknowledged ahead of time that the ceremony would approach the Russian Revolution and its bloody aftermath in this regard, rather than dwell on the more gruesome history.

“Russian avant-garde and the revolution are very close to each other,” he said at his news conference. “Emergence of avant-garde predicted revolution; afterward the revolution killed the avant-garde.”

But isn't this what you earn when you host the Olympics? Russia aren't the first, and they won't be the last to use the Olympics as a public relations platform.


Parade of Nations

Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

This is always one of the best aspects of the opening ceremony. Seeing the athletes from every country drive home what the Olympics are about. The competition isn't immune from politics or other outside influences, but at the end of the day, it's about figuring out who are the best athletes in the world.

You can't help but feel that little bit of patriotism when you see your country enter the stadium.

Particularly impressive was the Tongan Olympic team, who may have had the best outfit among all of the nations, per The New York Times' Ben Rothenberg:

You can't forget about the Jamaican bobsled team, either:


Flame Lighting

Matt Slocum/Associated Press

The question of whom will light the flame is always a hot topic going into the opening ceremony.

There was a funny rumor making the rounds that Alina Kabaeva—whom some believe to be Vladimir Putin's girlfriend—would have the honor.

As good a story as that would've been, Kabaeva only carried the torch right up until the final leg. Slate's Josh Voorhees has a nice breakdown of the torch's final journey.

Ultimately, Irina Rodnina, a three-time gold medalist in pairs figure skating, and Vladislav Tretiak, legendary goaltender for the Soviet Union hockey team, lit the torch. The two were appropriate choices, as they're two of the most decorated Russians in Olympic history.


Follow me on Twitter @JosephZucker.