Tuesday, March 02, 2010

2010 Olympic Closing Ceremonies, Part 3

And finally the last post of the Closing Ceremonies series. This is the point in the ceremony where Russia was given the opportunity to whet our appetite with a small preview of what's to come at the next winter Olympics, which will take place in Sochi, a coastal city, much like Vancouver, in 2014.

Russia had so many observers here, gathering knowledge about how we organized and ran our Olympics that some days I actually felt like I was in Russia. Their uniforms were very distinctive, so it was easy to spot them around town.

The photo above is a Russian choir singing their national anthem as their flag was raised. I am looking forward to watching the 2014 Olympics to learn more about their country now that it's come so far from the days where we knew so little about life there. Part of my heritage is Russian and I grew up in Winnipeg which has a large Russian population, so I am sure it will in many ways feel oddly familiar.

These balls were rolled out during their presentation. There was a person inside each one wearing a lighted suit and when they started bouncing around, it just cracked me up.

I liked this part of their presentation best. The balloons were brought out by teenagers in Sochi uniforms and eventually they popped and sprayed red, blue and white (the colours of the Russian flag) all over the place. I really loved how the stadium was lit at this point with all the balloons floating above. It felt magical.

John Furlong giving his closing speech. He made an earnest attempt to do part of his speech in French, which was commendable. It's not easy speaking another language in front of millions of people!

Jacques Rogge giving his closing speech. If you click on this image and look closely, you will see that the subtitles are about Nodar Kumaritashvili. It was really nice that they made a point of remembering him again in the Closing Ceremony. The loss of this young man makes me feel so sad.
When the athletes were coming into Ring Road on the night of the Opening Ceremonies, everyone who was down there was cheering loudly, welcoming each group as they arrived. Then the Gorgians arrived and we all felt our breath catch. We clapped quietly in a show of support. They walked right past me, their grief written plain as day on their faces. It's one of the saddest things I've ever witnessed and I will never forget it.

Okay this is bad shot, but it's Neil Young in the center, underneath the torch.

Here's a better shot, of the TV screen in the stadium. The staging was such that the Olympic box where the dignitaries were seated was opposite to where the athletes were seated, so anyone performing would face in the direction of the Olympic box alot of the time. It meant that if you weren't on that side of the stadium, you had to look to the TV screen to see their faces. I don't know why it's set up that way, but I suppose there's no getting around it, really.

After Neil Young's performance, it was time to head back down to Ring Road to get ready to assist any athletes who were leaving the ceremonies early. When I got to the end of the ramp down to Ring Road, I was greeted with this. Yes, it's a giant moose balloon, the likes of which they have in the Macy's Parades. I had to maneuver around this giant beast to get to where I needed to be. Strangely enough, there is a photo of me kissing a moose from much earlier in the evening. Photo op anyone? And no, I won't be posting it. What happens at the Olympics, stays at the Olympics!

The view from the vom into the field of play.

Some of the "Made in Canada" cast and the giant beavers (also balloons)queueing up to go onstage.

Remember those balls from the Russian presentation?
Well they were lined up in Ring Road, waiting to be put away. I *so* wanted to climb in one and go for a roll!

More views through the vom. Giant blow up Mounties!

And there is the moose in all its glory!

Here are the beavers coming back into Ring Road. They really were big and it was funny seeing these things marching in and out.

And this my friends is Michael Buble, atop a giant motorized Mountie hat. Yeah, weird. He was up there singing "The Maple Leaf Forever" during his section in the show, which historically is an alternate song to "O Canada". This whole section was very over-the-top Broadway. Anyway, he came back into Ring Road and it took a few minutes before he was able to climb down from up there, so as you can imagine, everyone was taking pictures. How many times are you going to see that in your life?

When the ceremony was over, the crowd spilled out of the stadium and I was swept along with it. I made my way to Yaletown, where I ducked into Starbucks to get a drink. (It's very hot in Ring Road.) I was starving, so I also ordered some banana bread. My last meal had been at 3 p.m. (Lunch, which was essentially dinner.) and I mentioned this to the guy who was serving me. I owe him a thank you for putting THREE slices in my bag-two were on the house! I really appreciated his kindness. I certainly didn't expect to feast on banana bread. Whatever your name is, YOU ROCK! I *heart* Starbucks, really, I do.

I sat down with my snack outside to cool off and called home. I realized that with the crush of humanity that was going to be taking the skytrain, it would be hours till I would get home, so my knight in shining armour agreed to come meet me on Main Street. That meant a long hike back to that end of town (as heading to Yaletown meant I'd walked 15 minutes in the opposite direction), but I went along the False Creek seawall, so it was pleasant, as you can see by the photo.

This is a night shot of the athletes' village. As I passed by, I was kind of sad thinking that soon those rooms would be empty, as all the athletes returned home. I hope that they had a good time in our city and felt that we really did care about each and every one of them as if they were our own, because for 17 incredible days, they were.

1 comment:

Cynthia of Cynful Creations said...

Lelania, thanks again for sharing all these wonderful posts about your experiences at the Olympics. It has been great to see things through your eyes, and feel just a little bit closer to the experience. But please could you post that picture of you kissing the moose??? ;)