Dreams of Russia: Sochi 2014 Opening Ceremony

Apr 04

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Sochi 2014 Opening Ceremony

First up for me was the Sochi 2014 Opening Ceremony! After spending five days in Moscow, I finally made my way to Sochi for the 2014 Olympic Games. I have been planning this event for four years; I made the decision to attend the Sochi 2014 Olympics after having a great experience in Vancouver for the 2010 Olympics. I then attended my first summer games in London. Sochi is my third Olympics in a row; I will be skipping Rio 2016 but am consider Pyeongchang 2018.

Olympic Rings, Olympic Park, Sochi, Russia

Olympic Rings, Olympic Park, Sochi, Russia

I did not have a ticket for the Opening Ceremony in Vancouver nor London so I made sure to do whatever it took to get the Sochi 2014 Opening Ceremony ticket. I had no problem and while I had to spend a great deal of money, it was worth it to see the show that the Russians put on for the world. It was spectacular.

Opening Ceremony, Sochi Olympics 2014

Opening Ceremony, Sochi Olympics 2014

I wish my flag wasn’t so wrinkled.

The Sochi 2014 Opening Ceremony started by reciting the Russian alphabet and a famous landmark or Russian. I LOVED the showcasing of the Cyrillic alphabet and listing prominent Russians such as Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Pushkin, Catherine II the Great, Tchaikovsky, Gagarin and many others. The Russian poets and writers are some of the best in history; I wish more people would pick up a Tolstoy novel or a Pushkin poem.

Five large snowflakes appeared and expanded to create the Olympic rings. Oops, one snowflake didn’t open and the rings could not be illuminated by fireworks….not really a big deal but apparently while the spectators in the stadium and many around the world saw the mistake, those watching on Russian television did not as the Russians hastily replaced this section with one that worked from dress rehearsal. I had my camera at the ready and snapped the infamous mistake. 🙂

Snafu at Opening Ceremony, Sochi Olympics

Snafu at Sochi 2014 Opening Ceremony

Aside from the snowflake snafu, the remainder of the Sochi 2014 Opening Ceremony was flawless. From a men’s choir singing the Russian National Anthem to hundreds of volunteers dressed in their flag’s colours, it was beautiful.

The troika is a three horse carriage and the traditional method of transportation for Russians in the 18th century; it is also a literary and cultural symbol that was used in Gogol’s Dead Souls, a Russian masterpiece.  Missing from my photo: the troika was pulling the sun. If you look at the bottom left, you can see miniature St. Basil’s Cathedrals that would inflate and be used in the next section.

Troika, Sochi 2014 Opening Ceremony

Troika, Sochi 2014 Opening Ceremony

And the best moment of any Opening Ceremony: the Parade of Nations!! Greece enters first and Russia as the host nation last; the rest enter according to the Russian Cyrillic alphabet. Canada (or Канада in Russian) entered 35th (out of 88), lead by four-time (three at the time) Olympic champion Hayley Wickenhauser, the Queen of women’s hockey!

Team Canada, Opening Ceremony, Sochi Olympics

Team Canada, Opening Ceremony, Sochi Olympics

Sochi 2014 Opening Ceremony had a large focus on classical music, including art, music and ballet as well as history. A tribute to Peter the Great and his construction of Russia’s first navy (bottom right in the collage below); Peter was a reforming visionary who modernized his country, taking it from a medieval and superstitious country to a modern and rationalist Empire.

Fourteen columns rose from the floor while classical music played as a tribute to Tolstoy’s War and Peace. The columns disappeared and the dancers left the stage. Enter the hammer and sickle; the Opening Ceremony covered the Russian Revolution as well as the Soviet period of industrialization.

Sochi 2014 Opening Ceremony

Sochi 2014 Opening Ceremony

The Olympic flag then entered the stadium carried by Khamatova, Skoblikova, Popova, Tereshkova, Fetisov, Gergiev, Enileev, and Mikhailov. And the grand finale, the Olympic torch FINALLY entered the stadium. I was very glad to see it as those seats were NOT comfortable at all. I was slightly disappointed that the torch relay around the stadium included so many summer Olympians. I really wanted them to focus on the Winter Olympians.

Olympic Flame, Sochi Opening Ceremony

Olympic Flame, 2014 Sochi Opening Ceremony

Tennis star Maria Sharapova brought the Torch into the stadium, handing it off to pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva, then gymnast Alina Kabaeva, and finally to figure skater Irina Rodnina (controversial after her tweet on Obama which she originally defended as freedom of speech and later claimed she was hacked) and hockey player Vladislav Tretiak who jogged out of the stadium to light the torch.

It was a bit annoying not to have a cauldron inside to light (as they did in Vancouver) as well as one outside. A big fireworks display occurred next while Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker score played but once again, the spectators inside the stadium did not see any of that.

A great three-hour show (it felt like five). It also included the Russian police choir singing Get Lucky and Russian pop duo t.A.T.u. in the pre-show. The event lived up to my expectations; it even exceeded them. The Russians put on a great show and I could not wait for the Olympic events to get started. Bring on the Canadian gold.

You might also be interested in:

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Behind the Kremlin wall in Moscow

Sochi 2014 Men’s Figure Skating Long Program

Speed Demons: Alpine Skiing at Sochi 2014 Olympics

4 comments

  1. I watched the opening ceremony on TV. It looked wonderful. I wonder how amazing something like that would be in person to experience. Any advice on the lottery for US citizen? Is there a website where you can start planning today? I tried, but I was not able to find anything.
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    • It was such a fun experience. I want to go to another Opening Ceremony. 🙂 The place to start is with cosport.com (nothing is listed on the website yet). That is how I got all my tickets originally for Sochi and London either via lottery or straight out buying: they are the official reseller for US and Canada (and several other countries) as the home country gets their tickets through the main Olympic website (sochi2014.com or whoever is hosting). They normally start selling tickets about 1.5 yrs before the Olympics. Sochi did have a reseller website that they opened up to everyone (as did Vancouver but London did not). Attending an Olympics is a lot of work and research but soooo worth it. 🙂

  2. jamie kim /

    Thank you for your detailed description for the opening ceremony. i just have a qeustion regarding to the sochi opening ceremony that if they had a dress rehearsal opened to the public.

    Please reply for me. and really looking forward to attend the pyeongchang opening ceremony 🙂

    • I don’t believe it was open to the public in Sochi – I never heard that it was. I do know it was filmed and they used a small portion from dress rehearsal to fix the ring error when it aired on Russian television. Good luck for Pyeongchang – I’m hoping to go too!

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