Oh Canada…no seriously, Oh Canada. At least that’s what my husband said as the fourth cauldron failed to rise in order to light the Olympic torch in the final moments of the opening ceremonies in Vancouver. I joke, as it didn’t end up being that big of a deal. It’s hard to compare to the opening ceremonies in Bejing, which is still fresh in everyone’s minds, but it would be like comparing apples to oranges, as the two events were completely different. Canada highlighted the individual, the indigenous people of its land, and the breathtaking beauty of the area, while China highlighted the collective.
The night unfortunately had a feeling of sadness draped over it like a veil, as Georgian luge competitor Nodar Kumaritashvili died earlier in the day in a brutal accident during a training run. He hit a steel beam at 80 mph, and the video was horrific. The night moved on, however, but with many paying tribute to the fallen athlete. The start was a beautiful video of a snowboarder taking a gorgeous run in Vancouver and, as he hit the bottom, he traveled through people who lit up the Canadian symbol, the Maple Leaf. The video proceeded into real time, as the snowboarder burst through the Olympic rings to start the night. Call me insensitive (Seriously, I deserve it) but I fell asleep during the part of the ceremony that introduced the many indigenous people of Canada – the Inuit, the Metis, and the First Nations of the Prairies. I had to get up this morning to watch the rest of the proceedings. Sorry, I’m pregnant, so I require a lot of stimulation.
There were some amazing performances by Canadian performers, with kd lang‘s performance of fellow Canadian Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” probably being considered the highlight of the evening. It was especially moving having taken place just after IOC President Jacques Rogge paid tribute to the fallen athlete Nodar Kumaritashvili. Bryan Adams, Sarah McLachlan, and Nelly Furtado also performed, along with fiddler Ashley MacIsaac, and one’s gotta think Adams was just happy to have a gig. Sorry, sorry, I just haven’t seen him in a while. There were some amazing scenes that paid tribute to the animals indigenous to Canada, like the bear, eagle, and wolf which came to life by gorgeous lights in the stadium. Then, a giant bear emerged from underneath the stage, and the floor became a huge body of water, with images of salmon and whales emerging within it. It was really beautiful.
Wayne Gretzky, who continually denied his participation in the opening ceremonies, most likely didn’t shock many by being part of the lighting of the torch, but the fact that four others joined him was a bit of a surprise. Paraplegic athlete Rick Hansen started it off and handed the flame to back-to-back gold-medal winning speed skater Catriona Le May Doan. The flame continued on to NBA star Steve Nash, who gave it to gold medal skier Nancy Greene. Because of the malfunction of what was supposed to be four shards of ice joined at the top, Doan watched while Greene, Nash, and Gretzky handled the lighting. Despite the relatively big faux pas, it was quite a sight. Governor General Micha’lle Jean, originally from Haiti, declared the games open at 8:30.