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Talk of the Games

The medal standings tell only part of the sports story of what's happening at the Games. For the rest, check out the latest dispatches from The Seattle Times' sports crew of columnists, reporters and producers.

February 12, 2010 at 5:35 PM

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Opening Ceremonies live thread

Posted by Bob Condotta

PLACE CLEARING OUT --- 9:23 as I type this and the building clearing out, though the techno music sadly endures. General consensus here is that this isn't an Opening Ceremonies to make anyone forget Beijing.

JUDD WITH GOOD DETAIL OF THE MALFUNCTION --- Ron watched it on TV and has some good detail of it here. I'll give Craig Hill of the Tacoma News Tribune credit for being the first in our press row to point out something was wrong and why was the song going on for so long. Not a great start to these Games on levels serious and less-so.

OLYMPIC MALFUNCTION --- And there was indeed supposed to be a fourth pillar rising to the sky there. Not sure how many people here noticed --- there was quick speculation here as the drawings we got showed a fourth one. I think most here just figured they were building suspense. It was LeMay Doan who got axed out of her moment of glory.

THE FINAL FIVE TORCHBEARERS --- Technically there were five --- Gretzky, Nash, Greene, speed skater Catriona LeMay Doan and Rick Hansen, a paralympian.

A VIEW OF THE FINAL FLAME:

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IT'S OVER --- And speculation here is something went wrong and there should have been a fourth rail rising to the cauldron. Wayne Gretzky is now carrying the flame out of the stadium to light the external cauldron, confirming rumors of its existence.

CAULDRON RISING -- All four will light it with the flame rising as one to the top.

FLAME MAKING THE ROUNDS --- Steve Nash and Canadian skier Nancy Greene among those making the trek. Now it's Gretzky.

SNOW FALLING, FLAME ARRIVING --- At 8:53, the flame is finally here amid more fake snow from the ceiling.

ONE-MINUTE SILENCE: At 8:46, a one minute silence called for Nodar Kumaritashvili. And it did really get quiet. You could hear a baby crying in the upper reaches but that was about it.

WE FOUND BOBBY ORR --- A few years ago, there was a good book written calleed "Searching for Bobby Orr,'' noting he basically just disappeared upon retiriind? Well, he's here tonight helping bring thee Olympic flag in. Can Phil Espostio be far behind.

HERE IT COMES --- 12 minutes away --- apparently Canadian time works a little differently as it was 27 minutes away at 8:14 --- it's now 8:39. Terry Fox's mother, Betty, who had been thought a possible contender to be the final torch bearer, is now helping bring in the Olympic flag. So that seems to tilt the needle toward Wayne Gretzky as a possibility even though Furlong denied it earlier. I'm leaning toward Triumph.

GAME'S DECLARED OPEN AT 8:31 ---- Now it's just down to lighting the flame, though first an interlude with K.D. Lang --- either her or Rush, I guess.

CHECK OUT RON JUDD'S BLOG, AS WELL --- Should have noted this earlier but Ron Judd is watching this all on Canadian TV and is blogging it, as well.

FURLONG THANKS THE MEDIA --- Don't get that every day in this business. Course, by the time he was done he had basically thanked every person in the world, so guess he couldn't really leave us out.

ROGGE ADDRESSES TRAGEDY: In a brief statement before handing the floor to VANOC head John Furlong, IOC president Jacques Rogge addressed the death of Nodar Kumaritashvili:

Here's what he said: "Before we officially welcome you to these Games, John Furlong and I have a very solemn duty to perform. It is with great sadness that we acknowledge the tragic loss of Nodar Kumaritashvili of the Georgian team, who passed away this morning in a training accident on the luge run. We extend our deep sympathy to his family, his friends, his teammates and countrymen.''

Furlong, in his address, also asked that athletes peform with Kumaritashvili's spirit in their hearts.

OLYMPIC TORCH 27 MINUTES AWAY --- As I type this at 8:14 p.m. Still wondering what Canadian legend lights the flame. Burton Cummings? The McKenzie Brothers?

THIS WAS ALSO PRETTY COOL --- Liked the red and white lighted skaters moving swiftly around projected scenes of Olympic action. Pretty neat:

100_1192.JPG

BY THE WAY, JONI MITCHELL SANG BOTH SIDES NOW --- Better that than Free Man in Paris, probably.

SNOWBOARDERS COMING DOWN A MOUNTAIN --- A huge mountain just rose out of the floor and snowboards came riding down it suspended from the ceiling in what stands as one of the highlights in my eyes. Snowboarders wearing Canadian red (reminding me I could use a Canada Dry about now).

SUSPENDED DANGER GETTING HUGE APPLAUSE --- During a rendition of Both Sides Now. Certainly, the special effects are impressive with some pretty cool lighting projected onto the floor to approximate snow and sun.

WHO HAS SEEN THE WIND? --- Is what's coming up next. The overall theme so far has been Canada's origins and nature. Donald Sutherland appears to be talking at the moment (though in a more serious tone than his famous Animal House role).

LOTS OF VIOLINS AND MAPLE LEAFS --- We are now in the "tribute to Maple Leafs'' portion of the show, accompanied by lots of violins. Thousands of paper mache maple leafs descended from the ceiling, again littering my keyboard.

DESCENDING SUN: This actually drew a "Wow, that's really cool'' from a hardened sports writer colleague sitting next to me. Not really sure what it all means, however, as it's dark where we are and we can't really read the PR material explaining it all:

100_1189.JPG

FOR SOME REALLY GOOD PICTURES OF ALL OF THIS --- Click here.

SARAH MCLACHLAN ON THE STAGE --- After a tribute to trees and Canada's nature, Sarah McLachlan appeared and is now singing about Ordinary Miracles, apparently an homage to the beauty of Canada and not the fact that I have actually downloaded a few pictures on here.

THE BIGGEST POLAR BEAR I'VE EVER SEEN --- Just emerged from the floor and rose almost to the ceiling before again disappearing. That may be what many younger spectators remember later.

BRYAN ADAMS AND NELLY FURTADO HAVE LEFT THE STAGE --- Pretty cool fan participation with fans holding up flash lights at the requested moments. Now it's lots of fake snow, falling onto my keyboard as I type this, and what is being called a "Hymn to the North,'' another tribute to the country's native peoples.

WHAT THE US TEAM LOOKED LIKE:

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FIRST ACT IS BRYAN ADAMS AND NELLY FURTADO --- If it were up to, Adams would just do Cuts Like a Knife and leave it at that. Instead, he's doing what is called an "athlete's tribute song'' with fans participating holding up and banging little drums that were placed on every seat.

AND AT 7:14, HERE ARE THE CANADIANS --- About what it sounds like when the Huskies come through the tunnel on gameday, frankly, which causes me to wonder if there is a Canadian Don James.

USA IN THE BUILDING AT 7:12 --- Loudest cheer so far, though figure one louder coming.

HOW LONG CAN THEY GO? --- The big question here at press row is wondering how long the Aboriginal dancers in the infield can keep it up. They've been dancing since the parade began 48 minutes ago now. Jillian Michaels would be so impressed, though a couple guys frankly seem to have just about come to a halt.

RECOGNIZINIG FOUR HOST FIRST NATIONS --- If you've seen the pics on here or elsewhere and wondering what those four big statues are in the middle, they are representative of the Four Host First Nations, the Aboroginal peoples of Canada.

KEEPING IN FASHION --- It's the Winter Games, but we're indoors, and some of the athletes seem not to have known how to dress. Many are wearing big parkas, which would have made sense normally, but it's 70 degrees or so in here for the first indoor opening ceremonies in Oly history.

33 MINUTES TO GET TO THE L'S --- At 6:54, the Lithuanian team enters the building. Seem to be a few fans realizing the time to take a break might be now.

A LOOK AT THE GEORGIAN TEAM AS IT ENTERED:

100_1169.JPG

STANDING O FOR GEORGIA --- Standing ovation for the Georgian delegation as it entered at 6:39 p.m. No mention of the tragedy, but many fans immediately recognized the team and cheered. Team wearing black arm bands on right side.

CYPRUS JUST ENTERED --- But if you're a big Cyprus fan, you won't see it on TV. A live TV feed on a guy's computer in front of me shows a commercial at the moment (though maybe that's the CTV feed and not NBC).

EIGHT MINUTES LATER, THEY ARE TO THE B'S --- At 6:29, Bulgaria entered. Speaking of B's, there won't be any performances by Canadian rock legends BTO, far as I can tell. There will be lots of others, however, many you might expect if you know your Candian music trivia.

WHAT IT LOOKED LIKE AS GREECE ENTERED: From where I am, anyway.

100_1165.JPG

TEAMS ENTERING --- At 6:21, teams began to enter the stadium. As is tradition, the first is Greece.

IT'S UNDERWAY --- The ceremony is underway. The opening was a video montage of past winter Olympics with Calgary drawing the biggest cheer, then a rendition of Oh Canada by 16-year-old Nikki Yanofsky, who first came to fame at the 2006 Montreal International Jazz Festival. There are now dancing members of the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada.

STEPS TO HONOR KUMARITASHVILI ---- Word is among the steps being taken to honor the fallen luger are that the Canadian and Olympic flags will be flown at half mast and the Georgian team will wear black arm bands as they arrive. Also, IOC head Jacques Rogge and VANOV chairman John Furlong are expected to mention the tragedy.

FIRST MENTION OF THE DEATH --- As the countdown clock hit zero, there was a brief announcement that the ceremonies would be dedicated to the memory of Nodar Kumaritashvili. Crowd didn't seem to notice much as after a few seconds music played and everyone began cheering.

BIG DIGITAL CLOCK COUNTING DOWN THE TIME --- As I type this, scoreboard has a big superimposed clock counting down the time --- three minutes to go. The pre-show is over and there was no mention of today's tragedy.

PICTURE OF THE PRE-SHOW STAGE --- It's not great --- I'm in what is called a "non-tabled'' section of the press area where I have to have my computer on my lap in a regular, old seat.

But here's the view of the pre-show stage from where I am:

100_1161.JPG

FINAL TORCH BEARER WON'T BE WAYNE GRETZKY --- There'd been lots of speculation he would be but there's been some news reports today that he won't be so I don't feel it's giving away anything to note that the press kid confirms Gretzky will have a role tonight but that won't be it. Expect to see a few other hockey players, as well, one who may share a name with yours truly.

GET READY FOR LOTS OF AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION --- We're not supposed to give anything away until it happens, a command that goes against my every fiber to comply with, but I'll try. But I will say to expect lots of audience participation.

Also, if you've seen any of the pictures posted here, the floor of BC Place is covered with fake snow --- these are the first indoor opening ceremonies in the history of the Olympics, summer or winter.

KICKING IT OFF --- The Opening Ceremony is set to begin in about 45 minutes as I type this and the pre-show (a show only those in attendance get to see, and so far, for readily apparent reasons) is in full go.

So far, no mention of the today's tragedy as the apparent goal of the pre-show is to whip the crowd into a celebratory frenzy.

Anyway, I'll be your guide to the festivities, knowing that most of you may not see any of this for a few hours, If you want to be surprised, you may not want to read any of this until later as I will fully reveal what is happening in real time --- not my fault NBC won't show it live on the West Coast.

For the rest of you, glad to have anyone on-board as we live blog about the Opening Ceremonies (and for those of you familiar with my usual role here at the Times, yes, this is a little out of my element, but I'll do my best to muddle through.

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