Friday, February 9, 2018

2018 Olympic Blurb: Day 0 - Opening Ceremony


I wake up at 6:00 a.m. when I have to go to work. It's exhausting, but that's what I have to do!

Today there is no school because we are in the middle of a winter storm. However, I have still woken up at 6:00 a.m!

My body is angry with me. Last weekend I was in Walt Disney World and didn't get too much sleep. This would have been the perfect day to sleep in and let my body recover.

But no. I have Olympic Opening Ceremonies to watch.

In 2016 I lamented because NBC was being cruel to us Americans by only allowing us to see the tape-delayed broadcast on their network at 8:00 p.m. with all the crappy commentary and obtrusive commercials. Fortunately, enough people complained and NBC higher-ups finally wised up. This year they are allowing viewers to watch the Ceremony online as it airs, and I am so grateful.

We will get to see what the rest of the world sees, for once! NBC isn't cutting out stuff that they think Americans wouldn't get or they think would be boring.

On NBC's website, they warn people that the live stream was "natural sound only," like it was a warning or a precaution. To me, that means: "No annoying people interrupting your viewing right here!" It was a gorgeous thing to see.

As I watched, there were a couple of 20-second ads, but then I was taken immediately back to the stadium for more stuff. It was as close to a commercial-free viewing as I'll ever get! I didn't have any connectivity issues, and the picture was clear on my television as I did the Chromecast.

If this is the way I can watch the Opening Ceremony from now on, I'm all for it. Read on for my recap:

Opening Video and Countdown

What a fun way to show off the logos of the previous Winter Olympics!

(Cry count: 1)

This stadium, since it doesn't need to conform to track or futbol standards, is shaped like a pentagon! How fun!

I remember 10 years ago in 2008 when Beijing had a strip of HD screen on the floor, and we all considered that to be innovative. Now all the stadiums basically have the entire floor as an HD screen, and are using it to great effect.

White Tiger

I've been seeing a lot of the Olympic mascot Soohorang lately, and this looks a little fiercer than him! But the white tiger is significant in Korean culture.

And there are the kids from the video! (Cry count: 2)

Okay, not having the commentary is amazing. I can hear the music! And it's beautiful! I don't even care that I don't have commentators explaining everything to me. I can find the explanations on Twitter if I have to!

President's Box Introduction

Our first chance to hear the three languages of these Olympics: French, English, and Korean.

This would be the point in the ceremony when NBC would cut out for 20 minutes of commercials, by the way.

Drums and South Korean Flag

Did the drummers rise up from the bottom? Does that screen move up and down? It sure looks like it does!

The choreography for these things is amazing. It reminds me of marching bands - how in the world can they make perfect formations all the time?

Oh! They made the center of the Korean flag! Costume reveals have gotten even better in the last few years. (I think we may be seeing some costume reveals in women's figure skating, by the way - I watched some of the European championships a few weeks ago and two of the ladies changed costumes halfway through their program.)

Those hats that the flag bearers are wearing are on point.

And where did those dancers go? It's even more admirable how fast people appear and disappear when watching it live.

Man, all these outfits are awesome. And they look warm, too!

All the seats of the stadium have a light box next to them. No need to have to cue the audience to do stuff, I guess.

Usually when the flag is raised they have full military uniform - not here. They've got dress uniforms on. Are they sending a message?

Get ready, folks - we're going to be hearing that national anthem a lot this Olympics.

Athlete Processional

In the Winter Olympics, the athletes get to come out near the beginning and enjoy the ceremony - unlike the Summer Olympics, when they show up near the end. (I prefer the Winter Olympics' setup.)

First up: Greece! (Cry count: 3)

Next up, because of the Korean alphabet, are Ghana and Nigeria! How cool that these newer nations to the Winter Games get to show up first and enjoy the spotlight!

I love having the large flag in the middle of the stadium as the countries are introduced. And they're on the lights in the seats, too! These ceremonies just get better every time.

And just to remind us that Psy was an international phenomenon a few years ago, we have "Gangnam Style" as part of the entrance music! (Full confession - I just listened to this song a few days ago.)

The Americans got to come out during that song, too - fun!

I am up in the air about the Ralph Lauren outfits that Team USA wears for these things, but I have to say those boots are very cool.

This stadium doesn't look terribly big, but when you can fit the entire American delegation on just 1/6 of it, it must be a lot bigger than it is perceived to the human eye! (And I know these delegations are much smaller than in the summer, but the American team is always very big.)

I don't understand why the host nation has dancers line the walkway - do we need them to dance? Can't they just cheer? Apparently it's a thing, and I'm just going to have to be okay with it!

Now was the perfect time for me to go in the kitchen to make an omelet. I usually don't have the patience for omelets, but I did pretty well!

I'm thankful for the Winter Olympics, because it gives the northern European countries like Austria, Norway, Sweden, and the Netherlands a chance to really shine. In the summer their delegations are pretty small, but in winter they are some of the largest!

Here is the OAR - nondescript in their grey and white. No fancy red-and-white colors like 2014 and 2016. Many of those athletes are getting a chance because their counterparts cheated. It must be very bittersweet for them.

It's the Czech Republic! I have to mention that tonight at my Olympic party (if the weather clears up) I am wearing my Czech sweatshirt and scarf!

I'm kind of over Pita Taufatofua, to be honest. If he catches cold tonight because he went shirtless in the athlete march and can't compete, I blame the rest of the world for making it such a big deal. I hope he has a coat at his seat, at least.

To wrap it up: North and South Korea marching together as Korea. I was a bit perturbed that South Korea wasn't going to get a chance to march in with their own flag at their own Opening Ceremony, but I'll admit that it was incredibly effective to see both countries united as they marched in as KOREA. (Cry count: 4)

I like how the host country has their own music theme as the nation marches in. It makes me wonder what Team USA will do for Los Angeles in 2028. Who will do our theme music? John Williams? Pit Bull? Somewhere in the middle?

Five Kiddos - Past and Future

Now we get into the Korean culture, and those cute kids are back again. I like how they weave through the story. (They also led in the Korean athletes with Soohorang.)

The kids are seeing into their future! One of them is going to have a creepy robot like in Ex Machina, apparently. Don't let it lock you in your technologically advanced house as it escapes.

Usually this segment focuses on the history of the nation, but more and more we're seeing countries use it as a link to past and future. It's nice - especially if some countries are hosting for the second or third time.

In 2016 the Japanese delegation used light-up rectangular prisms, and this year the Korean dancers are using light-up rectangles. Very curious - what geometric shape will be used next?

I was a bit confused by those rods coming out from the center, but then they started lighting up! Great use of the lighting effect on the rods and on the floor together.

Speeches

Say what you want, but I think Thomas Bach has been a step in the right direction for the IOC. He is progressive, and he also knows that there are flaws in the modern Olympics that need to be addressed. He was part of the group that revamped the hosting bid process since it had become so corrupt, and is working to make sure that host cities not only are prepared for the Olympics, but also have plans for their venues after the Games are done. (He also genuinely looks happy to be there all the time - I can't say that about Jacques Rogge.)

Usually the speeches are done down at a separate stage, but this year they are right in the middle of the athletes! I like that.

There are no cuts to the speeches on the live feed, which is great, but as the South Korean IOC chairman speaks, I can't understand what he's saying, either. But I'd rather have that than NBC assuming I don't care and eliminating the speech from the telecast. (At least put a translation up, NBC.)

Bach's speech touched on being "united in diversity." I liked his whole speech! He knows the right things to say.

Doves of Peace - "Imagine"

I'm not a fan of "Imagine" by John Lennon. I do like how they incorporate instruments recorded from all over the world. (It's hard to watch the singers when they're lip syncing. I understand why, but I do wish they could make it a little more convincing.)

Light-Up Athletes

Those little lights appear again by the downhill track.

Choreographed skiing and snowboarding dancers! All kinds of awesome! I wish there had been more, to be honest.

Olympic Flag and Anthem

More awesome hats!

Ah - I thought those ramps were for skiers or snowboarders, but it's more HD screens. I like it.

I love that the Olympic Anthem requires either an opera singer or a bunch of kids. There is no middle ground for that song. (Cry count: 5) I need to learn this song, by the way.

Oh man, you can see her breath as she's singing. I'm glad she's got layers on! It does look like she's singing live. Mad props.

Olympic Oath

Let's just remember that a Russian athlete Ruslan Zakharov - took the Olympic oath to promise - on behalf of all athletes - to not cheat and play fairly. This year he's barred from the Olympics under the doping ban for Russia. So let's hope that the South Korean athlete fares a bit better!

Olympic Flame!!!!!

Here comes the Olympic flame!! First we see all the cool places it's been and the song that the poor people had to endure for the past 100 days or so.

Ack - it hasn't even shown up and I'm crying (6).

It's so windy there that sometimes it looks like the flame went out. Keep going, flame! You can do it!

Those Korean hockey players have to climb all those stairs! I'm glad they're conditioned!

There's ICE on the top! And there's Yuna Kim! And she's skating a little routine!

The actual process of lighting the cauldron was cool (almost literally - she put the flame on ice) but the giant flame thing that went up to the cauldron was odd - and I think the wind was to blame. If it hadn't been so windy, then it probably would have looked really cool.

Dancing and Pyro

Look at that! We're not done yet! We've got crazy dancers now! And pyrotechnics in the stadium! Is this representing the Olympic flame? I wouldn't be surprised.

Basically there is a giant box suspended from the center of the stadium that is blowing up. That seems rather scary to me!



2 hours and 15 minutes later, the Opening Ceremony is done! THAT'S how to start an Olympics - short and sweet with no extra fat! All other host nations, please take note. And with just four or five little commercials for the Olympics and Paralympics in between, it was a smooth transition from one thing to another.

I absolutely loved the live stream, and I loved that there was no commentary. I'll DVR the NBC broadcast tonight and see if it provides me extra information, but it won't be a priority to watch.

I hope you enjoyed my recap of the Opening Ceremony! Let the games (officially) begin!


My name is Claire Nat! You can follow me on Twitter @CeePipes for lots of Olympic comments, or follow me on Facebook at facebook.com/blurbmusings. Check out my blog for other articles!

Read about Day 1 of the Olympics HERE!


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