A grand Opening Ceremony at Sochi’s Fisht Olympic Stadium officially kicked off the 2014 Olympic Winter Games after some competitions began yesterday.
Six of Russia’s most famous Olympians – including NBC Olympics’ own Maria Sharapova – brought the longest torch relay in Olympic history to a close.
But the honor of lighting the cauldron went to three-time gold medalists Irina Rodnina (figure skating) and Vladislav Tretyak (hockey), who completed their special task after a short jog to said cauldron outside the stadium.
Parts of the show included a troika pulling the Sun, an aerial display awash in red, and even a trip to the carnival. But even before it began, a Russian police choir got the crowd hyped up with a performance of Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky.”
Some of Team USA’s athletes opted not to take part in the Opening Ceremony, however, as they seek to stay focused on their upcoming events.
Figure skater Ashley Wagner was one of them (though teammate Jeremy Abbott still found a way to ensure her presence at the stadium). That’s understandable considering she’s out to get the U.S. back into medal contention tomorrow in team figure skating.
Among the Americans that did attend tonight’s event was moguls skier Heidi Kloser, who insisted on doing so even though she tore her ACL and broke her right leg in a training accident yesterday. Sochi was to be her Olympic debut.
Downhill training continued with Americans Bode Miller, Stacey Cook and Julia Mancuso posting solid runs. But gold medal contender Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany said today that the newly-changed Rosa Khutor alpine course has become too slow.
In hockey news, the U.S. women’s team announced Jessie Vetter as starting goaltender for their opening game tomorrow against Finland. Meanwhile, the Finnish men have to replace Tampa Bay Lightning forward Valtteri Filppula and Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu, who are both injured and will not compete in Sochi.