If Russia wanted to put their stamp on the Winter Olympics, they certainly succeeded with the dazzling show put on at the opening ceremony.
Sochi 2014 opened with a spectacular display at Fisht Olympic Stadium as a parade of dancers regaled the crowd of over 40,000 with a series of acts that highlighted Russia’s long history.
The man charged with producing the opening was George Tsypin, who has worked on Broadway for a number of years. Tsypin designed Spiderman: Turn off the Dark, which suffered through numerous production issues and just recently folded after losing close to $60 million.
Nonetheless, Tsypin forged ahead with the opening ceremony with the goal of presenting to the world a complete picture of Russia in all its glory. Tsypin mixed in the old with the new, with several portions of the ceremony dedicated to Russia’s communist, including displaying the hammer and sickle that was the symbol of communist Russia for decades. While the country still worships former ruler Josef Stalin and credits him for helping to end World War II, Tsypin did not remember Stalin through any images or likenesses.
Still, it was clear that Sochi 2014’s opening act was going to be all about Russia. President Vladimir Putin was in attendance and gave only a short speech, declaring the 2014 Winter Olympics to be open. Thankfully, politics were kept to the side for the evening.
Much anxiety and pressure was on the host country in the weeks and months preceding the opening ceremony. Terror threats, grumblings of venues not being completed and controversy over Russia’s policy on gay rights dominated much of the news.
Dmitry Chernyshenko, Sochi 2014’s organizing committee’s president and CEO, declared the area to be "the safest place on Earth during the Olympics.” And for one night, it certainly was.
The only hiccup registered during the ceremony was when the five Olympic rings were revealed in a dazzling light display. It was supposed to feature the five rings opening from a display of snowflakes. However, the ring at the top right corner failed to materialize, revealing just four rings.
Despite the slight snafu, the world was greeted with a display that told the story of Russia through lights, music and dancing. There was no question that by the end of the ceremony, it was all about Russia telling its story to the world. The games may be global in nature, but this was about showing the world about Russia, and nothing else.
Now, the games can begin, and there will no doubt be many officials wringing their hands and hoping that each event can go off without a hitch. Sochi 2014 is already the costliest Winter Olympics in history, and for now, Russia can claim victory for an opening ceremony that was clean, crisp and without incident.