2010 Olympics opening– under the shadow of Kumaritashvili’s death

February 13, 2010 at 10:12 pm 2 comments

February 13, 2010.

Very rarely do I watch television for such a long stretch on any one occasion, but I had to see the opening ceremony of the 2010 Olympics in Whistler, B.C.  Next best to being there and seeing it live. Television programming began at 7pm EST for us in Ontario. We ate our dinner in front of the television, a rare thing at our home, reserved for special events that cross our dinner hour. I didn’t want to miss a moment. Speculation abounded on who would light the cauldron with the flame that had crossed the country, a tradition to prepare the host country and its citizens for the games.

Before the ceremony, viewers were treated to cameras panning the Olympic Village, and the mountain itself where many of  the games would take place. Visitors waved at the camera as the reporter walked the street and talked about who was coming, who was expected to show up, and who might not because of injuries. The reporter interviewed Olympic hopefuls and family members. This preview heightened the excitement; I couldnt`t wait for it to begin.

Recent press coverage  has included the cost of producing such an Olympic event and the tremulous financial position of the village; planner’s efforts to produce a “green” facility; as well as the  weather and lack of snow on certain slopes, requiring snow to  be hauled in; also the tragic death of Georgian luge competitor, Nodar Kumaritashvili, during a practise run yesterday before the Games could open.

Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC),  declared Friday as a time of mourning, and said there would be time after the investigation to look  for causes of the crash. In the same press conference, VANOC CEO John Furlong said, as he struggled to hold on to his emotions:

We are heartbroken beyond words to be sitting here.

He had rewritten parts of his speech to include appropriate memorial to Kumaritashvili, his family, and his team and had plans to include one minute of silence in honour of the luge athlete.

Despite the tragedy, the Opening Ceremony went on as scheduled. Such an event must have minute-by-minute coordination  and planning to bring it about and is not easily rerouted.

The procession of athletes brought significant excitment, colour, and pageantry to the opening ceremonies. Countries that had never participated before were represented by one or more athletes. Russia, US, and Canada had the highest contingent of  atheletes. I did not record the numbers, but I was amazed at how small countries such as Norway and Sweden had such a large number of competitors. Canadian athletes also will have stiff competition in skiing from Austria and Switzerland.

Honouring their fallen fellow athlete, the somber Georgian team wore black arm bands as they marched in the parade of athletes. They were granted permission to leave the festivities immediately afterwards. It seems they will compete anyways, continue in the Olympic spirit, if not in the high hopes they came with.

Following the parade of athletes, a light show highlighted the challenges of living in the northern contintent, one that stretches `sea to sea to sea.’ It included Northern Lights with the Inuit becoming separated on ice floes that grew smaller and smaller. The stage scene began with winter, flowed through the seasons of spring, summer, and autumn with talented dancers and readers sharing pieces of Canadian literature, music.

Rather than naming performers, when I`d surely leave out some worthy person, I will just say I was in awe of the display of light, colour and sound, a beautiful presentation of our land and combined cultures that wowed the silent and attentive audience in that stadium as it did for my husband and I watching.

My husband remarked on the positive involvement of the First Nations and their inclusion in the opening. I agreed that it was a good thing and that the coverage in eight First Nations languages as well as English and French involved much planning and coordinations.

K. D. Lang sang  Hallelujah, a song written by Leonard Cohen, near the end of the ceremony and before the games were officially opened.  The song was a fitting tribute to the Olympics hopes and mood. The following video was filmed in 2007 at the Juno awards.

More on the opening ceremonies and the games outlook in general, from The Record‘s Josh Brown.  I’ll be keeping an eye on the medals through the news casts and papers and hope there are no further accidents or trauma at the events. One death is too many.

How many medals do you think Canada will win in this Olympics?

Entry filed under: Olympics, Sports. Tags: , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Karen Toth  |  February 14, 2010 at 3:40 am

    Great article Carolyn!
    Really enjoy reading your writing skills!


  • 2. Carolyn Wilker  |  February 14, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    Thanks Karen.
    I enjoyed watching the opening ceremonies and hope our Canadian athletes do well.


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