At long last, the 2018 Winter Olympics are officially underway in Pyeonghang, South Korea. The opening ceremony — whether you watched live version or the tape-delayed broadcast — is in the books. It is LIT. And by “it” we, of course, mean the Olympic caldron.
Yes, there had definitely been action in Pyeongchang before Friday. You may have spotted a U.S. curler who looked alarmingly like Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid or already heard NBC figure skating commentator Johnny Weir perfectly roast a performance. But, fellow Olympianthusiasts, we know very well that no games truly begin until the Olympic flame burns brightly and the parade of nations concludes.
Before we get on to the moguls and the 102 medal events stretching until Feb. 25, let’s look back at the most delightful, moving and significant moments from a memorable night.
The Olympic caldron was ignited
After traversing the country on a 101-day journey, the torch relay is finally over. The flame was carried up a steep set of stairs and delivered to South Korean figure skater Yuna Kim, who won a gold medal in 2010 and silver in 2014. She had the honor of lighting the caldron — and the daunting task of skating on a small sheet of ice high above the crowd.
South Korea and North Korea entered — united
In a moment not unprecedented but no less insignificant (no matter how you want to parse that significance), athletes from South Korea and North Korea entered the stadium together under a united flag depicting the Korean peninsula.
There was no escaping politics
Politics are never far from sports, and that is certainly the case with the Olympics. A pair of impersonators — one portraying U.S. President Donald Trump and another representing North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un — drew some attention at the ceremony.
The record-setting Team USA arrived
Led by flag bearer Erin Hamlin, a luge competitor in her fourth Olympics, the U.S. contingent entered the stadium with a record-setting 242 athletes, the most ever for a nation at a Winter Olympics.
Let’s REALLY take in that USA gear ...
... especially the Olympic-caliber fringe on those gloves
Yes, that was “Gangnam Style” you heard
As the U.S. delegation entered the stadium, the international K-pop hit by South Korea’s Psy was playing:
Team USA gets to walk in to Gangnam style pic.twitter.com/2hZsyEJC6B— Motoko Rich (@motokorich) February 9, 2018
Mike Pence waving at fringe-glove-adorned Team USA as they enter the Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium while Gangnam Style plays.— Sara Germano (@germanotes) February 9, 2018
The shirtless Tongan flag bearer returned ... shirtless!
Despite the frigid temperatures in Pyeongchang, Tonga’s Pita Taufatofua was out there without a shirt. The well-oiled star of the Rio Olympics, famous for his show-stealing flag bearing at the 2016 opening ceremony, is competing as a cross-country skier in 2018.
OMG!!!! #Tongan flagbearer Pita Taufatafua is once again shirtless & glistening w/coconut oil, just like in Rio when he went viral. BUT IT’S 17 DEGREES HERE. ❄️❄️❄️He’s qualified in x country skiing btw. Can’t make this stuff up. pic.twitter.com/6FyNS937P5— melissa block (@NPRmelissablock) February 9, 2018
Looking good, World
The centerpiece of the opening ceremony, the parade of nations included contingents from the approximately 90 participating countries, each adorned in special gear and led by a flag bearer. Greece led the way, as always.
Looking nondescript, Olympic Athletes from Russia
Athletes from Russia entered the stadium under the Olympic flag due to a massive doping scandal that led the IOC to bar the nation from competing in the Olympics.
Bermuda out there in SHORT PANTS
NBC ‘straight-washed’ its broadcast
From Cyd Zeigler of Outsports:
NBC failed to mention or highlight a single out LGBTQ athlete in its three hours of Opening Ceremony coverage Friday night. They also failed to take various opportunities to mention any gay or lesbian people, LGBTQ issues or any other connection to the LGBTQ community whatsoever.
These fire dancers should have done the Super Bowl halftime show
... and brought these drummers
Dancers/drummers form the symbol in the South Korean—not the unified—flag pic.twitter.com/rmsoalJnqS— Motoko Rich (@motokorich) February 9, 2018
There was an intruder who snuck into the action TWICE
Police were investigating the incident involving an intruder sliding down an icy chute to reach the performers, according to AFP.
Behold the beautiful (and terrifying) fleet of drones
The message of ‘peace of motion’
South Korean producer Song Seung-whan was the executive creative director of the opening ceremony. You may know him from the musical Nanta (also known as Cookin’ or Cookin’ Nanta), a nonverbal performance that debuted in 1997. That show mixed comedy, music, cooking and traditional Korean samul nori rhythm. The narrative of his opening ceremony followed the fairy-tale adventures of five children through time to learn about South Korea’s history and culture.
The five children of Gangwondo met the Guardians.— PyeongChang 2018 (@pyeongchang2018) February 9, 2018
The children hopes for peace with the Korean legend, ‘Bear Woman.’
우리나라 백두대간에서 수호신들을 만난 다섯 아이. 웅녀와 함께 전 세계의 평화를 기원하고 있습니다. 이 광경, 2018 평창 개회식에서 '지금' 일어나고 있는 상황입니다. pic.twitter.com/HHdkVVeikU
And, of course, there were fireworks!
After a countdown in the stadium, fireworks illuminated the sky over Pyeongchang to get the opening ceremony started. They flashed and sizzled above the chilled crowd again to close the festivities.