“…in what other place does the queen of silence show us more splendour…” - François-Xavier Garneau
With all lights out, I sat in front of a giant LCD LED HDTV with the surround sound turned up to decibels never before reached in this household to fully experience the festivities of the opening ceremonies of the 21st Winter Olympic Games. I mean, this is a one-night-only live show on which was spent 35 million dollars and the likes of which New York and Las Vegas shows can’t compare. With this killer system, it was nearly like being there… except I was in my robe instead of one of those white poufy parka-mini-skirts the help had on! And I didn’t get to bang a drum, darn it.
The lead up to the event included a wonderful reflection on Canadian-American relations and a lovely segment about carrying the torch near the arctic circle. Even the premier of the new version of the song “We Are the World,” recorded to benefit Haiti relief, was moving. But the main event was just getting underway!
I loved the visuals and the lead in with the sights of Canada and the snowboarder heading down the mountain and… into the arena. Really a great way to showcase the country’s beauty. One observation I had early on was when the Royal Canadian Mounted Police were carrying in the Canadian flag. I was slightly surprised and not a little impressed that of the eight holding the flag, five were women. It’s not the typical idea of an RCMP, but rather an exciting one I think. What an honor to be chosen, too, regardless of sex.
Watching all the athletes in their procession, I observed that there really are a lot of beautiful people in this world. Really. I thought the colorful giant paisley print pants of Azerbaijan get the award for most daring outfit, far outstripping the Bermuda shorts of the (duh) Bermuda delegation. I thought Russia’s jackets were by far the nicest looking. (But then, if you don’t yet know, I adore red!) I was excited that there was a woman competing for Iran for the first time in the Winter Games – AND she carried their flag.
But most of all I was moved when the dancers stopped and the audience gave a standing ovation for the entrance and procession of the Georgian delegation. Such a truly tragic – and horrific – thing to loose such a young teammate (21) the day his dreams were to come to fruition. Kudos to both the Chilean and Croatian delegations for wearing the black armbands as a sign of respect. How sad that none of the bigger countries, or at least all the other lugers, didn’t follow suit.
As to the ceremonies themselves, I was delighted. So many things stand out. That 16 year old Nikki Yanofsky singing their national anthem – wow! The entire fiddling & tapping sequence was outstanding, exciting, and inspiring – fully my kind of thing, and so much energy! k.d. lang was utterly amazing singing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” (I’ve never been a fan of hers, but that one performance caused me to want to be one.) And that slam-poet Shane Koyczan was phenomenal. Made me wish I was Canadian. Nearly. “…Don’t let your luggage define your travels – each life unravels differently…” Fantastic!
And then there was the torch lighting. But it’s a little hard for me to comment on it, as I was watching it via DVR (so as to skip commercials all night), so it cut out during the extended delay they had waiting for… I don’t know what. I missed it entirely – and was incredibly irked about it! Four and a half hours, and I miss the finale! I’m hoping it will eventually be posted online, but no luck so far.
I know it’s a bit silly to go on about this, but really it’s so thrilling to this child-like soul. I love the competition and the sport. I love the stories of overcoming personal struggles to just BE there. (Like that athlete from Tajikistan who didn’t qualify, but they let come be a part of it just for the experience – he won’t compete. He’s that country’s only athlete.) I love the spotlight on a city and country – in this case one of my favorite cities to which I’ve ever been. And I do love the pride of country that comes forth. It’s going to be a great two weeks.