Olympics Opening Ceremony 2014: Breaking Down What to Watch in Celebration

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistFebruary 4, 2014

Fireworks are shot over Fisht Olympic Stadium, right, and Adler Arena, left, at the conclusion of a rehearsal for the opening ceremony at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
David Goldman/Associated Press

The opening ceremony for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia will take place Friday, Feb. 7 at Fisht Olympic Stadium.

Of course, deeming it the opening ceremony may be a bit misleading for these Olympics because it won’t actually be the first night of coverage. Fans will be treated to prime-time coverage Thursday, Feb. 6 of actual events, including snowboarding with Shaun White and team figure skating.

David Goldman/Associated Press

As for the opening ceremony, Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira will serve as “hosts” for Americans tuning in on NBC, with Bob Costas anchoring the ceremony from the International Broadcast Center.

What: 2014 Olympics Opening Ceremony

When: Friday, Feb. 7

Where: Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi, Russia

TV: NBC, 7:30 p.m. ET

Now that the essentials are out of the way, what exactly should we be watching for during the celebration?

As expected, the event’s organizers have kept most of the details under close wrap, but some information has trickled out in the days leading up to the Olympics. Here is what you should be watching for when you tune in to the opening ceremony for the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Fisht Olympic Stadium

One of the best parts of taking in the opening ceremony is the chance to get a first glimpse at the primary stadium that will be used in action for the following two weeks.

David Goldman/Associated Press

The centerpiece of the Olympic Park in Sochi will be the Fisht Olympic Stadium, which seats 40,000 people.

It is specifically designed to give spectators a clear view of both mountain peaks in the north and the sea in the south.

Per the official Sochi Winter Olympics website, the designers of the stadium had Russia in mind: 

The design of the "Fisht" Olympic Stadium in Sochi is unique across Russia. For the first time in the construction of a large-scale structure, a translucent polycarbonate roof will be used which will give the building an appearance of snowy peaks, ensuring it sits in harmony with the landscape of the Imeretinskaya Valley and the Caucasus Mountains.

Callum Ng, a senior writer for Olympic.CA, gives us a glimpse of the stadium:

The Spectacle Race

Ever since the Beijing Olympics in 2008, it has almost seemed like an arms race between countries to put on a bigger spectacle in the ensuing opening ceremony.

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 02:  Detail of the Olympic Basketball Arena at dusk at Olympic Park on August 2, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Don’t expect the Sochi event to be any different.

Viktoria Ivanova of The Telegraph reports that audiences should expect distinctive stars to don the various stages throughout the night: 

Big stars, such as viola player Yuri Bashmet and conductor Valery Gergiev, will appear.

Members of the British team that helped stage the successful Isles of Wonder show at the London 2012 Olympics are also reportedly involved.

All participants have been sworn to secrecy about their involvement in the opening ceremony on February 7. But Gergiev in effect confirmed his participation in September during a meeting of the All-Russia Choral Society, which he oversees.

There were reports then of a performance at the opening ceremony by the children’s choir and casting started in Russia’s regions for an Olympic choir of 1,000 singers.

Ivanova also reported that 40 million roubles will be spent on staging the actual event, and 15 buildings, six locomotives and six bridges will be built on the stage of the stadium. 

Expect there to be plenty of Russian culture during the performance, which would parallel other host countries demonstrating to a worldwide audience some of the treasures of home. It should be quite a spectacle.

Parade of Nations

Aug 12, 2012; London, United Kingdom; The athletes of the nations parade in around the cauldron during the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

The grand finale of the opening ceremony is always appointment viewing, as the athletes from every country in the event file out in front of a cheering audience.  

It will be our first glimpse at the majority of the athletes, but perhaps more importantly, it will be an opportunity to see the outlandish uniforms many will have on.

As Lolo Jones of the U.S. bobsled team points out, don’t expect the American uniforms to win any fashion awards:

Regardless of the amusing uniforms, the parade of nations is a symbolic demonstration of what the Olympics are supposed to be about. The whole world will be watching.

Let me know if you are excited about the opening ceremony on Twitter:


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