Big country big opening ceremonies.
As the world and most of Canada watched, the 21st Olympic Games were opened in Vancouver Friday evening. After a less than stellar performance at the Turino Closing Ceremonies in 2006 everyone was curious about what VANOC had planned and I was happy that we dropped the clichéd stereotypes from the ‘06 performance and created a beautiful Canadian tableau to be interpreted by the audience.
The Opening was kicked off by a beautifully sung, if uniquely arranged national anthem sung by Nikki Yanofski and a snowboarder shooting through the Olympics rings (inspiring a new life goal, I want to do the same thing!!).
The Four Host First Nations groups and four phallic giant totems welcomed the athletes into the ceremony. North and South Korea marched in separately for the 2nd Olympics in a row. Georgia walked in to a standing ovation with black armbands in honour of their fallen teammate. The lone athlete from Ghana marched in proudly. China, perhaps trying to curry some favour (?) or maybe just in honour of the host nation and a number of their coaches, waved Chinese and Canadian flags. Jamaica’s athlete walked in solo sans the bobsled team that didn’t qualify. Japan came in led by a five time Olympian who is also the first female to lead in their team. Tugba who was originally supposed to be the flag bearer for Turkey danced into these Olympics with her team. And then the Canucks appeared led by the amazing Clara Hughes. It’ safe to say the crowd went nuts and my heart swelled (even more) with pride. I tried to spot familiar faces and Joannie (Rochette) helped me out by going right up to the camera and waving.
The theme of the ceremony was the ‘Landscape of Canada” which began with a hymn to the north. Right away the beauty of The True North shone through and rang out with the ring of unity and The Northern Lights. Showcasing Canada artistically and through dance and song just goes to show how much heart this country posesses,. Glowing hearts? Check!
“A lifetime is not enough to explore this country. A man is too small to feel its size, the poet has not been born to sing its size, the painter to picture it” – George Vancouver, 1792 explorer of the North West Passage.
Usually I’m doing 3 different things at once but I became so captivated that I put everything down and just watched. I was enamoured by the story unfolding and the whole thing just seemed to fly by. The narration and the songs were so beautifully haunting, Joni Mitchell giving a voice to the vast prairies, the fiddlers singing the spirit of the east and how do you even describe Sarah McLachlan and KD Lang, they are Canada, that’s for sure.
There were many wonderful moments in the speeches themselves from the incomparable Governer General Michael Jean to John Furlong, CEO VANOC.
“…In life, as in sport, we should always give our best and never, ever, give up. You are our beacon of hope in the world so much in need of peace, healing, unity, generosity and inspiration…”
“…Many thousands have made tonight and the days ahead possible but the spirit and soul of all 33 million Canadians has been sewn into the fabric of these Winter Olympic Games…”
“…as the Olympic Cauldron is lit, the unique magic of the Olympic Games will be released upon us. Magic so rare that it cannot be controlled by borders. The kind of magic that invades the human heart, touching people of all cultures and beliefs, magic that calls for the best that human beings have to offer, magic that causes the athletes of the world to soar and the rest of us to dream. Tonight, in the glow and wonder of the flame we can all aspire to be Olympian…”
So many great people in the history of sport in Canada were on hand to bring in the Olympic flag and light the indoor cauldron. I thought that have a group light the cauldron was genius, too bad it didn’t go exactly as planned. I love Catriona and was so bummed that she didn’t get to light the flame. I do have to say I think the most ridiculous part of the ceremony was the drive through the streets, it looked a little Blair Witch but it was also fun to see people in the streets go nuts, especially when they were running through puddles. Ahh opening ceremonies debauchery, aren’t the Olympics fun?!
What I took away from the opening ceremonies was that in Canada, no matter who you are, regardless of size, colour, shape, you fit here and can have your own experience. The tableau created throughout the ceremonies let the audience put themselves here and find their own meaning in the landscape. We’re more than wide open prairies and mountain peaks but without those we wouldn’t be us.
Now I have to tear myself away from the Olympic coverage because we have tickets to see Little House on the Prairie but I can’t wait for tonight and the Pairs Short program. I’m especially pumped to cheer on Jessica Dubé and Bryce Davison, they are going to kick some major ass!! I grew up skating with Bryce so it’s extra thrilling to cheer them on. GO CANADA!