The death of Nodar Kumaritashvili, the 21-year-old Georgian luger who crashed during a training run earlier in the day, introduced a somber note to the opening ceremonies at Vancouver, but the ceremonies went off with only a minor glitch when one of the hydraulic props supporting the indoor caldron malfunctioned.
So much talent on display, so much national pride, so many heroes on parade. Famous Canadians from so many walks of life participated, reminding us of how blessed we are as a nation. And we learned finally who was going to light the outdoor flame: it was Wayne Gretzky after all.
Opening ceremonies, for me, are all about hope. At the moment each athlete enters the stadium, expectations are high for not a single competitor has lost a single event. They are all there to win something: a place on the podium, national recognition, personal achievement, something. And it’s all out there ahead of them. There is no past, only future.
The cultural segment of the ceremony was a bit too long and a bit too low-key at times, but it was undeniably Canadian. China set the bar for opening ceremonies pretty high at their summer games in Beijing, but the folks in Vancouver showed no sign of being intimidated by that spectacular event. They interwove art, culture and history into as fine a Canadian fabric as our iconic Hudson’s Bay blanket. In my more than a half-century in Canada, I’ve never seen as many Canadian icons in one place at one time. It was simply glorious.
And how marvelous it was to watch the special-effects: as a giant bear towered overhead, Orcas spouted their way across the stadium floor; salmon swam up mountain fed streams; giant conifers soared skyward. Yes, well, we are Canadian.
Now we can get down to business.
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© 2009 Russell G. Campbell
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