Live opening ceremony updates
6:57: For those of you watching on TV, notice the people dressed in white lining the parade of nations route. They have been dancing non-stop for about 40 minutes, and we're about halfway through the parade. Now that's dedication.
Note: You can read Part 2 of our coverage, including the U.S. in the parade of nations, here.
6:49: Japan. When you watch this on TV, look at the stands. They have the audience wearing different colored parkas, and when viewed from a distance, you can see that the flag of each country is represented in the stands. Very classy, very nice.
6:45: Iceland arrives.
6:39: Georgia comes out without joy. Understandably after the death of their countrymate. The arena rises in one to give them a standing ovation. But there is no happiness for the member of Georgia. All we can offer them are our thoughts and prayers.
6:35: Estonia comes out. The one cool thing about being here is seeing the absolute joy on the faces of the athletes. It's easy to forget that many of the people here have trained almost their whole lives for this moment. And deep down, many of them know they don't have a chance at a medal, so the parade of nations is their one moment in the spotlight. And then you get some bozo like me making snarky comments. But you have to respect what these athlete have gone through to get here, and be touched by their unbridled joy and enthusiasm.
6:28: Bermuda comes out, wearing bermuda shorts with black socks, reminding people everywhere of the A/V club in high school.
6:26. Austria comes out, and Matt Lauer on NBC compares the site of it to some random U.S. state. This appears to be Lauer's role in the ceremony. "Hey Matt, why don't you compare all the countries to U.S. states for the Americans out there."
6:24: Argentina. Bob Costas points out that no South American country has won a Winter Olympics gold medal.
6:21: The parade of nations, starting with Greece, then Albania. Algeria comes out. They have only one athlete at the Games. He
would have been really upset if he wasn't chose Algerian flagbearer in the
6:18: The Aboriginal Peoples of Canada welcome everyone to the Games. A couple of hundred people in native garb dance around the floor. Seriously, I'm trying to find something nice to say, but this opening ceremony has been really cheesy so far.
6:14 p.m.: The four host nations (Lil'wat, Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil Waututh) welcome everyone to the Winter Olympics. As they speak four statues rise from the floor of the arena, with arms extended.
6:09 p.m.: 16-year-old Canadian musical prodigy (that's what the press notes say) Nikki Yanofsky launches into a six-hour version of O Canada. Some people in the Stadium aren't happy with this version of the anthem.
6:07 p.m.: The Royal Canadian Mounted Police bring the Canadian flag into the arena. Is it wrong of me to be thinking of Snidley Whiplash right now?
And the opening ceremony is underway! They did a cute card opening with the crowd, counting down from 10 to one. For a moment, you think the Winter olympics are brought to you by Sesame Street.
This was followed by a video of a guy snowboarding down a giant mountain while voice-over guy lists where all the Winter Olympics were held. Not exactly the most dynamic two minutes of television of all time.
Then the video snowboard guy magically appeared in the stadium, boarding down a giant ramp that was set up. That was pretty cool.
-- Houston Mitchell in Vancouver
You'll get tag-team coverage of the Opening Ceremony on Friday night, and we start with Chris Erskine:
I'm sitting at the 50-yard line of BC Place, site of the opening ceremony, which is to begin in about an hour. It's like something out of a Lewis Carroll storybook. If there were any more fake snow in here, I might very well go blind. Expect to be dazzled, of course. There's a ramp to my left, where I'm sure someone will enter on skis or a snowboard, maybe both. I can't tell you much about Friday's show, under threat of decapitation. Let me assure you that every Canadian singer you've ever heard of will be here. Also Hawkeye Pierce (the original Canadian version). The parade of athletes should be relatively quick, given that this is the smaller Winter Games. That should allow for more entertainment. So sit back and enjoy what will no doubt be the talk of the weekend.
-- Chris Erskine