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The Best Winter Olympic Opening Ceremonies


mr.x

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^ I think I was hoping for something on the calibre of Salt Lake and with a hint of Sydney and Doha...we certainly got some of Sydney (Eternity) and Doha (digital projection, large aerial performances). Afterall, Atkins has quite a reputation after the aforementioned shows he created. Most people would like to see their country portrayed in a grand fashion.

BC Place Stadium likely also severely limited what Atkins could do. It wasn't just an indoor stadium, it had a roof that was air supported. With all the rigging, lighting, sound systems, and drapes hanging on the ceiling it severely stressed the 28-year old fabric roof. Then there's also the doors into the stadium...everything that goes in and out of the building (including spectators) need to go through air lock doors to get out - that was definitely an issue for how many performers they could have for each ceremony.

Regardless, the stadium's interior was beautiful especially on tv - it exceeded my expectations by quite a bit.

The filmed countdown seemed a little forced, and I bet that the opening scene with Vancouver's skyline money shots were something the government suggested for tourism purposes. After the snowboarder did his jump, there should've been maybe some sort of short welcoming performance on the stadium floor right before the VIP's were introduced. I didn't like how virtually all of that segment was out of the stadium.

Salt Lake's native segment was better, it was a lot more artistic, but Vancouver had to be inclusive - had to do an aboriginal segment, especially with the culture of excessive political correctness we unfortunately have. I think that's going to be a given for every Olympic Ceremony in the United States, Canada, and Australia.

The slam poet segment should have been replaced with a splashy artistic performance about urban Canada/Vancouver and multiculturalism. That would have been a much more appropriate finale to the cultural segment.

In a country and host city known for its excess, the Sochi Ceremonies will most certainly be on the same calibre as Beijing - they won't be sparing any expense...but why do I have a feeling Moscow's Red Square will be involved again? :lol:

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I loved the prairie segment while watching it in the stadium - it was very, very badly filmed and did not translate well on TV. It was beautifully staged, the perfect song choice - just more suited for a Calgary or Edmonton Games perhaps?

The whole kd lang section was a replacement for the traditional release of the doves - it was a call for peace and it was extremely well received in BC Place. The two girls from the Ukraine next to me were crying and said it was their highlight - so simple, yet really powerful - and kd's voice is one of Canada's greatest artistic assets.

X - the Doha ceremonies were very, very well staged but were absolutely soul-less. Amazing technology, huge sweeping displays of choreography and aerial work but it missed one thing - heart. I got a real sense of Arab identity but didn't learn a damn thing about Qatar.

Both Vancouver ceremonies were imperfect but they had heart, they had identity and they had a real sense of the place about them. They were Canadian - and honestly I left the stadium thinking "wow - if I was Canadian I would be shining with pride"!

As for the closing, I (seem to be the only one) liked the "woah ohh ohh Vancouver" song and thought Alanis was amazing. Michael Buble was OK and I think I was one of the few who really liked the Catherine O'Hara, Michael J Fox and William Shatner pieces. It was a party. Compare it to Athens 2004 - their closing ceremony was dull. Cutting down wheat? Symbolic but yawn. Beijing had a few dull patches - at least Vancouver had a few rock and pop stars people outside of Canada had heard of. Nickelback were abysmal, Avril was fun and while I think Hedley should be executed on site they fitted in well. The closing ceremony is never meant to be anything more than a reflection of the past two weeks, a few ceremonial bits and then a concert. You did it well with very limited resources. The Sochi 2014 hand over felt really out of place and overblown.

Whats done is done and I cant wait to see what Cirque Du Soleil will do at the opening of the 2026 Quebec City Winter Games! Oops, I have said too much...

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1. Lillehammer - a norwegian winter fairytale with modern ingredients

2. Salt Lake City - a wonderful grand show (Winter Olympics goes Summer Olympics "standard")

3.1. Albertville - a very modern (in that times) fancy show, but I agree that it hasn't much heart...

3.2. Vancouver - a great show with heart, but I it made obvious, that there must be something new/different in the next ones

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In a country and host city known for its excess, the Sochi Ceremonies will most certainly be on the same calibre as Beijing - they won't be sparing any expense...but why do I have a feeling Moscow's Red Square will be involved again? :lol:

During the cultural segment, Lenin's corpse will magically revive and start dancing the Futterwacken.

Mark my word. Go ahead and ask Paul if you need to see the future.

:P:rolleyes::lol:

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I loved the prairie segment while watching it in the stadium - it was very, very badly filmed and did not translate well on TV. It was beautifully staged, the perfect song choice - just more suited for a Calgary or Edmonton Games perhaps?

I agree, I loved the prairie segment too but it really was badly filmed by CTV and NBC in that it had weird angles and zoomed in on the aerialist far too much. However, the OBS feed that the rest of the world got and saw was perfect and amazing...see:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MxZpUueDAvc

I had people telling me how this prairie segment was badly choreographed. It wasn't at all while watching it in the stadium. Then I watched the CTV and NBC feed, it explained why they thought that way. Throughout almost all of the ceremony, the OBS feed was much, much more superior than the CTV and NBC versions.

The whole kd lang section was a replacement for the traditional release of the doves - it was a call for peace and it was extremely well received in BC Place. The two girls from the Ukraine next to me were crying and said it was their highlight - so simple, yet really powerful - and kd's voice is one of Canada's greatest artistic assets.

Agreed. Hallelujah was quite beautiful and powerful.

As for the closing, I (seem to be the only one) liked the "woah ohh ohh Vancouver" song and thought Alanis was amazing. Michael Buble was OK and I think I was one of the few who really liked the Catherine O'Hara, Michael J Fox and William Shatner pieces. It was a party. Compare it to Athens 2004 - their closing ceremony was dull. Cutting down wheat? Symbolic but yawn. Beijing had a few dull patches - at least Vancouver had a few rock and pop stars people outside of Canada had heard of. Nickelback were abysmal, Avril was fun and while I think Hedley should be executed on site they fitted in well. The closing ceremony is never meant to be anything more than a reflection of the past two weeks, a few ceremonial bits and then a concert. You did it well with very limited resources. The Sochi 2014 hand over felt really out of place and overblown.

I agree, Closing Ceremonies should be a bit festive and a fun goodbye party...but many, many Canadians simply hated all the Canadian stereotypes that were portrayed. Yes, it was meant in a fun and light hearted manner but it's not something Canadians want to be associated with - especially after spending 17-days trying to tell the world more about the real and modern Canada.

The roasts/speeches were even more abysmal...this segment was most certainly nearly universally hated by Canadians. I cringed throughout this segment. Like the slam poet at the opening, there's no place for these types of "in your face" nationalistic speeches in Olympic Ceremonies in my opinion. Sure, there's always nationalism at the Ceremonies but it's always done in an artistic and theatrical yet subtle way.

Many thought the artist choice for the Closing was awful...Nickelback? Avril? Hedley? A 12-year old's girls iTunes library. Then there were some unknown French artists followed by a break dancing team to end the Ceremony? (which was extremely anti-climatic, in fact I bet very few people didn't even expect the Ceremony to end right at that point until the announcers came on). The only artist that stood out was Alanis, she was most certainly amazing.

I agree, the Athens Closing was abysmal as well...but it did start out promising, the first song and the first dance was quite festive and appropriate for the Closing Ceremony mood. There were also a few other really festive pieces and appropriate segments, though it was towards the end of the cultural segment. However, the concert finale dragged on far too long...when even half of the athletes have left by the time the closing song began, that's a sign of something very, very wrong with how the concert was executed.

The same can be said for Torino's Closing. I didn't mind the circus segment, though even for a clown segment it seemed a little too serious at times...the Fiats were awesome though. However, the Ceremony began terribly...what was up with the massive inflatable zit on the stadium floor? The wind machine and aerialist performance was also really out of place. And there was something quite awkward about having a few hundred brides dancing around the stadium.

I loved the Beijing Closing...a fun and very festive way to end the Games. The final singing performance with the tower was great. And then there was the large scale fireworks display to signal and celebrate to the world that the Games were ending...something that I thought Vancouver could have quite used.

Whats done is done and I cant wait to see what Cirque Du Soleil will do at the opening of the 2026 Quebec City Winter Games! Oops, I have said too much...

Haha, well I haven't had an opportunity to vent out my disappointments until recently...was way too busy having fun during the Games, and was busy for several months afterwards.

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X, that clip doesn't work in the U.S....blocked.

My final word on Vancouver vs. Salt Lake: Salt Lake was very slick. It was a grand ice show and the viewer felt he was right there ringside in the presence of unique sights on a true wintry night. They gambled on an ambitious outdoor show, the elements held up, and they won.

Vancouver did its best with its indoor confines...couldn't quite convey a winter night's true feel but delivered a very varied, well-thought out plate whose parts (or at least from this TV viewer's chair) seemed to mesh together better...than Torino's did.

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I generally agree with your post there X, I know the closings were supposed to be all in good fun in what not. But I personally was horrified at the roast segment, as well as that horrible stereotype segment. What were they thinking?

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X, that clip doesn't work in the U.S....blocked.

My final word on Vancouver vs. Salt Lake: Salt Lake was very slick. It was a grand ice show and the viewer felt he was right there ringside in the presence of unique sights on a true wintry night. They gambled on an ambitious outdoor show, the elements held up, and they won.

Vancouver did its best with its indoor confines...couldn't quite convey a winter night's true feel but delivered a very varied, well-thought out plate whose parts (or at least from this TV viewer's chair) seemed to mesh together better...than Torino's did.

You have to watch the YouTube video from YouTube, it's not blocked in the U.S. rather you can't stream it from GamesBids.

There's no doubt that the Vancouver Games had to be indoors. I'm thankful for that, it was pouring outside during the Opening. The roof gave Atkins a controlled climate, though I think he would have been able to do much more if the roof weren't air supported.

BTW, I'm watching the World Cup Closing Ceremony right now...I'm a bit impressed with the projection they have.

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I generally agree with your post there X, I know the closings were supposed to be all in good fun in what not. But I personally was horrified at the roast segment, as well as that horrible stereotype segment. What were they thinking?

NBC cut out most of the closing ceremonies for the Marriage Ref but unfortunately let us see the roast segment. It was embarrassing.

What I do like about the Winter Games is that they still keep that small town non commercial feeling unlike the Summer Games.

My List:

1. Lillehammer 1994

2. Salt Lake City 2002

3. Albertville 1992

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I generally agree with your post there X, I know the closings were supposed to be all in good fun in what not. But I personally was horrified at the roast segment, as well as that horrible stereotype segment. What were they thinking?

The stereotype segment, not what I would ideally have in the Vancouver Closing but I can live with it. There was an artistic and theatrical production to it. I'm sure that most international viewers enjoyed this segment, it most certainly was lighthearted and fun, but Canadians however did not. The educated international viewer would understand that this segment was meant to "poke fun at Canada" by throwing out all of its stereotypes onto the stage. Moose, bam! Beavers, bam! Mounties, bam! But to those that know less about Canada, this could have very well be the impression they will have of Canada from this point on.

And yes, the roasts were mind numbing terrible. Sure, it would work if we were putting on a domestic show just for Canadians...like maybe part of some elaborate CFL half-time show, but this was for the entire world. It came out as incredibly cocky, nationalistic, and given that it involved a lot of play-on-words in English I'm sure non-English speaking viewers were completely lost in translation. To me, it seemed like they ran out of money (and time) to produce a theatrical and artistic performance for that segment's time so they called some people up to do some roasts.

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NBC cut out most of the closing ceremonies for the Marriage Ref but unfortunately let us see the roast segment. It was embarrassing.

What I do like about the Winter Games is that they still keep that small town non commercial feeling unlike the Summer Games.

My List:

1. Lillehammer 1994

2. Salt Lake City 2002

3. Albertville 1992

NBC cut nothing of the CC's. They just broke away after the "artistic" (and I use that term loosely) segment, showed the god-awful "Marriage Ref" and then came back for the waste of time "closing party".

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I loved loved LOVED the maple leaf forever segment. to me it was the best part of the CC. Agreed that the roasts were horrible. although Shatner was ok :)

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I guess "Maple Leaf" was like "Kangaroos on Bikes" in Atlanta for many Aussies. The world loved it, most natives cringed (I must be one of the few Aussies who thought the roos on Bikes rocked)

although Shatner was ok :)

I didn't hear what he had to say. I couldn't stop laughing because it was Shatner.

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  • 1 month later...

Well, let me see here... I've seen a few OCs now for the WOG and I'll just give some first blush thoughts:

Albertville - Anyone who knows me well knows that I just absolutely HATE Albertville. The OC was not a good first impression, given there was no real "sense" of culture or place, just "Hey kids! Let's put on a show that will have every one at home wondering what on Earth is up with the French!" Just... the artistic part was both bizarre and far too long. You KNOW you're in trouble if you're sitting at home and enjoying the speeches and protocol as the highlights of the ceremony.

Lillehammer - OK, now we're talking. Simple, warm, a introduction to a people and a place and everyone had a good time. Textbook ceremonies in my book and honestly, to this day, I still wish the Olympics could go back to Norway someday.

Nagano - Well... I liked the front half of the ceremony, with the opening of the Games signified with the ringing of the bell at Zengoji and the sumo wrestlers blessing the ground. The ceremony was going just fine until after the torch was lit and then it just skidded to a stop with an odd and overhyped presentation of the global Ode to Joy. Thumbs squarely in the middle here.

SLC - This was an interesting ceremonies anyway, coming just a few months after 9/11. The whole thing seemed tinged with a touch of worry and sadness, partially because of the attacks, partially because of the bid scandal. Yet, in spite of it, there were some truly amazing moments, most memorably to me the lighting of the Cauldron. Being an Olympics geek, it was like the ghosts of Olympics past coming back to visit us once more, to help us remember. That and I ALWAYS cry with the US Hockey team lighting the torch.

Torino - Very esoteric ceremony. Nice elements to introduce us to the city and the country and it's hard to top the final performance, lip synced or not, of an opera giant to close your show. Sometimes I thought the show lacked cohesivness, which is my sole complaint of the whole thing.

Vancouver - Tinged with sadness, deeply respectful, even with a balky cauldron, the Canadians rocked this one hard. The idea of people and place was there, a real spirit existed in the heart of the show and it was a true spectacle.

So, all those quick thoughts posted, who takes gold, silver and bronze?

3. SLC

2. Vancouver

1. Lillehammer.

Hmmm... seems a popular vote.

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My reviews:

Starting with Albertville ('cause it wouldn't be fair to go before that since this is when the Winter Olympic Openings became big spectacles): Very bizarre, especially watching from a pre-Cirque du Soliel US. Never quite understood almost anything, even looking back on it now.

Lillehammer: The best IMO, though not my overall favorite. Had something for everyone - history, good entertainment, cute little Vettas and no one noticed how relatively simple it was.

Nagano: As the only daytime ceremony in recent years, very well done and respectful to Japanese culture. Only problem - the Ode to Joy finale was not presented with enough (how do I say this?) "bang" especially since it was a great technological achievement. Then again, it could've been because in the US, CBS kept breaking away to commercials.

SLC: My favorite, though I might be biased. The post-9/11 effect handled very well with the American flag when so many people expected the ceremony to be all red, white and blue. Glitzy ice show with a lot of great special effects. It's only weakness IMO - maybe a little too much glitz...but what would you expect from the US?

Torino: Awesome, but like other people's opinions, a little disjointed. The race car and Pavorotti were very high highlights. And it managed to almost out-glitz SLC at times.

Vancouver: I was eager to see how they would handle the whole indoor issue...and they missed as far as I was concerned. The effects used in the projections were cool at first and then quickly got kind of boring. Don't get me wrong, it was done well, it had its moments and was well put together - after a while I felt like I was watching a giant powerpoint presentation...

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