Marching in opening ceremonies off the charts | AspenTimes.com

Marching in opening ceremonies off the charts

Ben Black
Aspen resident/Canada alpine speed coach

SOCHI, Russia — I’ve done a lot of very cool things in my life, but marching in an opening ceremonies at an Olympics just might have topped that list.

After not being sure if we could secure enough passes for the staff to attend the opening ceremonies for the Sochi Olympics, I had pretty much written it off.

Through a very last minute communication, I was given the nod that I could go. So I threw on my team-issued uniform and jumped on the bus to the costal village with my fellow coaches, athletes and a handful of other support staff.

Once we had grouped up with the teams from the other two Olympic villages we began the long process of being herded into the depths of the Fisht Olympic Stadium to be lined up in Russian alphabetical order (whatever letter Canada starts with in the Russian alphebet is pretty close to the end.)

With all of the teams being organized, this was a great opportunity to trade some Olympic pins with other nations, catch up with some of the guys I used to work with on the U.S. Ski Team, but more importantly get a chance to see some of the ridiculous outfits that the other teams would don for the ceremonies.

I felt a little overheated with my wool mittens and winter hat, but this is a Winter Olympics after all, and we did have to look the part.

I was just glad I wasn’t wearing whatever it was that the U.S. team was wearing, or shorts and flip-flops like my friends from the Cayman Islands team.

As we started moving around the stadium, getting closer to the entry point, you could hear the noise of the crowd beginning to build and build.

Everyone seemed pretty excited, but no one really knew what to expect.

With our flag bearer at the lead we were called to enter the stadium.

I have never felt energy quite like that of walking into a massive stadium with 40,000 people cheering, pounding music synced with a light show, and choreographed dancers leading us to our seats.

It was overwhelming to say the least.

I wonder if football players get the same sensation every time they take the field — pretty awesome

We were seated pretty low in the stadium, so it was hard to tell exactly what was going on with all of the dancers and the choreography.

I’m sure it looked a lot more organized on TV, but it was just cool to be in there and be a part of it all.

All in all, a great experience and one of those things that makes being part of the Olympics a thing to remember.

Still a little strange being part of the Canadian team, but it’s starting to grow on me.

We fell a little short of our expectations in the downhill race earlier this week, with our best guy in 10th place, 0.81 seconds behind Austria’s race winner Matthias Mayer.

But we still felt that the guys did a good job, and we’ve still got two more events to try to bring some hardware home.

Other than that, the weather has been awesome, the snow has been great, and it’s been a lot of fun to watch some other events, both live and on the TV.

Apparently NBC’s coverage of the games isn’t really all encompassing back home, as I heard that they only showed seven guys from a field of 50 in the downhill race.

That’s OK though, I understand that they are covering figure skating in its entirety.

So far, none of the concerns I had been hearing about have been an issue here.

The snow has been plentiful and cold, no security threats, decent nutrition, and despite what the reporters are telling you about their dire accommodations, we couldn’t be happier with ours.

So far, the Sochi Olympic Games have delivered across the board.

Aspen resident Ben Black is an alpine speed coach with the Canadian Ski Team.


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