Opening Ceremony Blog: Winter Olympics commence in Sochi

Recap all the action from Friday's Opening Ceremony.

The Olympic Cauldron is lit during the opening ceremony. (Reuters)
The Olympic Cauldron is lit during the opening ceremony. (Reuters)

2:06 p.m. -- Here you are. The start of the 2014 Winter Olympics. 

2:03 p.m. -- Well done, Russia. The Opening Ceremony -- which lasted a little too long -- had some incredible visual aspects (scroll down for photos!), a somewhat honest portrayal of Russian history, all flanked by classical Russian music and dance. Enough of that, on to the Games!

2:00 p.m. -- Maria Sharapova, bearing the Olympic torch.

Maria Sharapova waves to the crowd as she brings the torch into the stadium. (Reuters)
Maria Sharapova waves to the crowd as she brings the torch into the stadium.. (Reuters)

1:56 p.m. -- And the Olympic cauldron is lit, setting off a spur of fireworks from the Olympic Village. Pretty incredible scene.  

1:51 p.m. -- The Russian flag flying next to the Olympic flag. 

The Russian flag flies next to the Olympic flag. (Reuters)
The Russian flag flies next to the Olympic flag. (Reuters)

1:49 p.m. -- Four-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova carried in the Olympic torch before passing it off to other notable Russian athletes. 

1:47 p.m. -- More performers from the Opening Ceremony, wearing dazzling, spinning white dresses. 

More dancers perform during the Opening Ceremony. (Reuters)
More dancers perform during the Opening Ceremony. (Reuters)

1:43 p.m. -- What the Olympic anthem looks like from press row. 

1:38 p.m. -- The Olympic flag was carried in by a host of prominent Russians, including Valentina Tereshkova -- the first woman in space. That procession was followed by the Olympic anthem. Russia is definitely on its music game.   

1:32 p.m. -- Following Bach's speech, the head of the IOC invited Vladimir Putin to open the games. 

One sentence. That's it. And we're almost off. 

1:30 p.m. -- Bach preached even more tolerance and acceptance throughout his speech. 

1:23 p.m. -- Bach continues, preaching "tolerance and diversity," an interesting contrast to the Sochi setting. 

It should also be noted that there were massive cheers during Bach's speech, his first Olympics as president of the IOC. That was a not-so-subtle message to Putin, from Bach. 

1:20 p.m. -- Bach: "Now, you're living in an Olympic nation. I'm sure you will enjoy the benefits for many, many years to come." Now would be a good time to remind everyone that these games, at $51 billion, were the most expensive in the history of the Olympics. He also praised Russia's warm hospitality to all of the Olympic visitors. 

1:17 p.m. -- Thomas Bach, the head of the IOC, and Dmitry Chernyshenko, the head of the Russian organizing committee, are now addressing the stadium. Bach is praising Russia's passion for winter sports. 

1:10 p.m. -- Stirring image of Russian history. 

1:05 p.m. -- An interesting portrayal of Russian innovation, supposedly under Stalin. You have to hand it to the hosts, who haven't shied away from their past. Notice the color of everything. 

1:02 p.m. -- More Russian performers. 

Dancers perform during the Opening Ceremony. (USATSI)
Dancers perform during the Opening Ceremony. (Reuters)

12:58 p.m. -- An awesome shot of a Russian train steaming forward, representative of early 20th-century industrialization. 

12:53 p.m. -- Now hundreds of dancers are performing an elaborate, highly sequenced ballroom dance as a nod to Tolstoy's War and Peace, apparently. 

12:48 p.m. -- A better shot of the medieval city. 

Performers participate in the opening ceremony. (Reuters)
Performers participate in the opening ceremony. (Reuters)

12:45 p.m. -- Get ready for a Russian history lesson. The floor turned into a rolling sea with ships manned by Peter the Great, who developed the Russian navy. Stunning graphic visual of the sea. Judging by reaction on social media, this Baltic Sea projection has been the highlight of ceremony so far. 

12:41 p.m. -- A giant Russian Troika -- a three-horse drawn carriage -- was floating across Fisht Stadium pulling a flaming Olympic ring. The ring was pulled over a classical Russian medieval city.  

12:33 p.m. -- Those mascots? Yeah, they're pretty cute. 

12:31 p.m. -- So now the Olympic mascots -- a snow leopard, a bear and a rabbit -- are skating around the ice. Make of that what you will.  

12:27 p.m. -- President Vladimir Putin seems pleased with his work, despite all the negative attention. Here's to hoping the Games go-off without a hitch. 

12:24 p.m. -- Todd Lodwick, the American flagbearer. And those Ralph Lauren sweaters. Yikes. 

Todd Lodwick leads Team USA into the stadium. (Reuters)
Todd Lodwick leads Team USA into the stadium. (Reuters)

12:22 p.m. -- Team Russia enters to some Daft Punk blaring over the speakers. Could do much worse, Putin. The entire 40,000 person crowd erupts in applause. 

12:18 p.m. -- Major players we're still waiting on? Those would include Russia, Jamaica and Sharapova. And Ivan Drago. Always Ivan Drago. 

12:17 p.m. -- Remember those athletes competing as independents? Here they are. No pride lost. 

Athletes who have no country affiliation enter as Independent Athletes. (Reuters)
Athletes who have no country affiliation enter as Independent Athletes. (Reuters)

12:16 p.m. -- Here they are. Team USA's Bill-Cosby-inspired sweaters. By the way, crowd was very supportive of the giant US squad. 

12:09 p.m. -- And there you go. Team USA walks in as the largest ever Olympic team with 230 members. Shani Davis, Shaun White get some TV-time. Both are hoping to become the first ever Olympians to win an event three straight Olympics. 

12:08 p.m. -- Moments before being introduced, here's Team USA: 

12:02 p.m. -- Another image of Germany's, um, loud, outfits. 

Germany's uniforms are very colorful. (Reuters)
Germany's uniforms are very colorful. (Reuters)

12:00 p.m. -- India's Olympic athletes were forced to compete as independents due to political wrangling within the nation's Olympic governance. Not a good look, India. 

11:56 a.m. -- Ok, ok, we have a challenger to Germany and USA for craziest uniforms. 

11:54 a.m. -- Should mention that athletes coming up from an underground stage, walking out of highlighted map of the world that's projected onto the ice. Pretty incredible setting. 

11:52 a.m. -- Team Canada arrives with its largest ever team, 220 members. It's a favorite to win both golds in men's and women's ice hockey, which would most likely upset the host nation, very, very much. 

11:48 a.m. -- Zimbabwe follows the contingent of "C" nations ... because the Russian alphabet. 

11:45 a.m. -- Germany is seriously trying to challenge the USA for gaudiest uniforms of the Olympics. Whole team is sporting rainbow colored full-bodied jackets, symbolic in many ways.

 11:43 a.m. -- Brazilians, just practicing for Rio Summer Games in 2016. 

11:39 a.m. -- Parade of Nations continues with Argentina, Austria, Belarus, British Virgin Islands...and you get it. Here's Belarus: 

11:35 a.m. -- We knew she'd play a role. Didn't know it'd be so significant. 

11:33 a.m. -- The athletes are coming! First out? Greece. 

11:30 a.m. -- We'll call it the snowflake malfunction. Also, it's snowing in the stadium. Gotta be fake, since, there's no real snow in resort town of Sochi, right??

11:26 a.m. -- The ceremony's first snag -- the last snowflake didn't unfurl into Olympic ring. No matter. Onward!

11:23 a.m. -- Snow, music, "dreams" all playing a prominent role in ceremony's opening sequence. 

11:19 a.m. -- The ceremony kicks off with a rendition of Russian alphabet, each letter representing various moments or influential people in its history. Tolstoy and Sputnik each mentioned -- that didn't take long. 

11:12 a.m. -- Now just moments from the start of the Opening Ceremony and Fisht Stadium is completely jam-packed.  

11:00 a.m. -- Part of the pre-ceremony entertainment included t.A.T.u, the feminist Russian rock group. No word on how Putin reacted. 

10:30 a.m. -- The pre-show has kicked off with Queen's "We are the Champions," and fans are being encouraged to hug their neighbors.

10:15 a.m. -- With the Opening Ceremony set to begin in an hour or so, fans are beginning to file in to Fisht Stadium.

Fans are starting to arrive for the start of the Opening Ceremony. (Reuters)
Fans are starting to arrive for the start of the Opening Ceremony. (Reuters)


After months of build-up and controversy and #SochiProblems, the 2014 Winter Olympics begin in earnest in Sochi, Russia.

We'll be here throughout the event to bring you the all the sights from the festivities. The official event begins at 11:15 a.m. ET, but the pre-show begins around 10 a.m. ET.

And wouldn't you know it, we have a stray dog in the stadium already.

As of 10 a.m. ET, the stadium is approximately half-full.

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