Our Olympics correspondent Louise Papais reports on the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Games. She missed the entrance of the athletes but arrived at her mom’s to watch the show in time to see the giant mushroom-trees…
I said what is that? Are those big mushrooms? But know they were supposed to be trees. And all these people were doing some weird-ass dancing underneath, it looked like modern dance, just a big mess, it didn’t look like anything was choreographed at all. I later found out that actually the dancers were the Winnipeg ballet company which I think is the fourth top ballet company in the world?
So there were these ballerinas and ballerina-boys. I thought it was pretty lame. They were dressed like normal people, they weren’t dressed in ballerina outfits. I didn’t like that at all. And it went on forever. They were supposed to be trees. Finally a commentator says, there they are, our beautiful Douglas firs and I thought, isn’t that ironic? We’ve got MacMillan Bloe Knocking all the trees down and killing our environment and now they’re saying there’s our beloved glorified trees? It was really silly.
That finally ended. Then this was the best part of the whole thing. And there wasn’t much. But the fiddlers. The fiddlers, and they came along with tap-dancers. It was Cape Breton stuff. It was really good. They had really cool costumes. And the girls and the guys all had tap shoes on. I made a joke, “I wonder if that’s that fiddler, that famous fiddler we have in Canada,” but no one could remember his name. Well. And so lo and behold, at the end they announce, “Here comes our master fiddler Ashley MacIsaac.” We all thought he was in jail, didn’t he do something bad? Anyway. He comes out to do his crazy fiddling thing. That was good.
But again it didn’t really look choreographed. And I’m comparing it to Beijing. And that ceremony was absolutely mind-boggling. This looked like a hodgepodge. But what does Canada have, right? Then every once in a while they would quote somebody, like George Vancouver, or somebody else. Another quote my mom really liked was by Pauline something or another. I can’t remember what it was but they were all kind of corny.
And then came this guy, who kind of sounded like a slam-poet guy, but not really ‘cos it wasn’t that obvious. He said a big long speech about how great Canada is and how diverse it is and how you can go and do anything and get anything because we have all these different kind of people and he stood up on this kind of like big round cylindrical thing in the middle of the stadium, this huge round thing and he was standing at the top saying a speech about how great Canada is.
And then came, oh this is even better than the Scottish dancers, whoever they were. That’s the problem. The newscasters never really told us who people were or anything. Who is this guy saying this thing about how great Canada is [Shane Koyczan]. And who is this French guy, they said the French guy’s name but he only had one name. I’ll get to that. Oh, Sarah McLachlan! For fuck’s sake…
She comes out in the most unbelievable, my mom asked if that was her real hair, I don’t know, she had this huge hideous necklace on, something you’d see on an Egyptian – it was like a huge, I don’t even know if you’d call it a necklace. I don’t know. It looked like a big thing around her neck that went down towards her chest, and it was all glittery and gold, it was absolutely hideous. She played the piano which was obviously fake and sang that song, what’s that song, you know that song, that sad song… I actually kind of like the song but I’m not fond of her.
I missed thank God Bryan Adams. Then came this beautiful voice, I thought it was Enya, but it was Loreena McKennit, she wasn’t there. Then came Sarah McLachlan which of course she couldn’t be singing. Oh and then so beautiful, that guy that’s a girl, Sinead O’Connor, no, k.d. lang, remember I scoffed at her when I said she was going to be on? Fuck, she was the best thing. She was amazing. Her voice is so beautiful. She was dressed in a suit, all white, and she looked a little manlier than usual, according to Roz. She sang “Hallelujah”. Thanks to Alena [piano student] I was able to say, “Isn’t that a Leonard Cohen song?” It is, right? So Roz goes, yep. Last year, Alena had me listen to it on her iPod, she goes “Oh listen to this,” it wasn’t sung by Leonard Cohen, it was sung by somebody else she really liked, “It’s ‘Hallelujah’.” I go, “I don’t know that.” She goes, “Yes you do, everybody knows that song.” I go, “No I don’t. I’ve never heard it.” She made me listen to it because she couldn’t believe I’d never heard it. And actually I had never heard it.
Since I’ve now become aware of it, it’s an incredibly famous song, everybody’s sung it. Yeah! Everybody’s had their turn at it. Leonard Cohen won’t even sing it anymore. Because people sing it better than him I think. I heard his version of it and I wasn’t really fond of it frankly. It was too long and slow. Anyway, this woman, k.d. lang, it was the best I’ve ever heard. I love that song now. I want to hear it again by her.
And then! This is so fucking annoying! Okay. Fine if it’s French, go ahead it’s Canada, do the French after if you have to repeate everyting in French. But they would do the French first. And it was really annoying because you didn’t know what the hell they were talking about. No one even spakes French unless you’re in Quebec. Go ahead and do your token French words now and then – you better not be writing this, ‘cos this is really bad – but it was way too much. Then it got worse because after k.d. lang’s beautiful song, they got some stooge out singing a French song nobody had heard of. In fact nobody clapped at the end. They had to sluggest everyone clap. It was em-barrassing. And his song was bru-tal.
And then came a bunch of speeches from those people, VANOC people. And they were morbid. It was quite morbid, the opening ceremonies, because of the luge guy. That’s the other thing, when the Georgian team walked in they had those armbands on, it was really sad. And so John Furlong and his pal, the guy who repated everything in Frnech they were both really broken down about the whole thing, so their speech which of course they had to change because it had a lot to do with the luge guy, it was cast a pall, for me anyway. That was a real down, which it should be. Then they had two minutes of absolute silence. Which was nice.
So their speeches were really down, downers, as they should be, I must repeat again, as warranted.
Throughout this whole thing, we’re all, well me especially, I’m all about this torch thing, I was so excited, I wanted to see Terry Fox coming in and lighting the torch with the imaginary torch, somebody was going to figure out how to do it by hologram, I was all excited because it was going to be so touching and everyone was going to cry. Well, I was so wrong.
Anyway, before that, this was brutal. I don’t know who this woman was, I never got the name, I don’t know what was going on, but this operatic singer came on, this woman, you have to see it to believe it, I wish you could Google it because it was outrageous. She was wearing this yellow long gown, which was really wide like a princess-looking gown, and the biggest boufffant looking do on her head that I’ve ever seen. This hair was kind of like Michael Jackson when he was a child but a bit longer. It was out there. And her face… She looked like some kind of scary cartoon. I thought she looked like a bird. She sang, apparently the Olympic anthem, which I didn’t even know there was such a song, but my mom says they do it every year and she doesn’t know how I don’t know it. It’s always done by a choir, which makes if fuller. Well I never heard this song before, except by this operatic woman, and it was the most wretched thing I’ve ever heard and it never ended. It was so bad. Okay. At one point at the end there I said, “I can’t take. It’s like she’s going to break in half. Her mouth got so big. It was like a cartoon show. I couldn’t believe this was a human. You have to Google her. You have to see it on YouTube. It was unreal. Anyway, that went on forever.
Then came, finally the torch time. I was so excited. I was so excited… OH NO! I got shattered a bit now because I knew something was going wrong, was when they came in walking with the Olympic flag, I didn’t realize this but a bunch of people carry it in like a coffin, it’s all spread out face up. There were 6 people, 2 at the front then the middle part then the end, the first two people at the front were Terry Fox’s mom, and I’m like “oh no” [Louise had thought Terry Fox's mom would be lighting the cauldron with a hologram of her son]. Opposite her was okay let me think, it was an odd-sod group of people I’ll tell you that much. I’m not sure… Anyway,Terry Fox’s mom. Donald Suthterland was one of them, then I said oh my God who’s that behind him? It’s Mary Tyler Moore! No, it’s Carol Burnett! But no, you know who it was? It was Anne Murray. I thought where’ s Michael J. Fox at least, they might as well get him in there. But now. Then they had Steve Nash in there, the big basketball pro. I named him right just because I knew Nash was going to be holding the flag so I knew he had to be one of them.
Those are the only ones… Donald Sutherland. Why not have Jim Carrey then or Michael J. Fox. Or Buble for heaven’s sake.
Okay, so I thought, I don’t know about this Terry Fox thing, maybe he’ll light it by himself. Which can’t possibly happen, right? ‘Cos his mom was already out so it’s not her.
Then comes the big torch time and it all goes dark and I’m waiting for this big thing and you can see only shadows and you could see a wheelchair so I’m like “Okay, it’s Man in Motion [Rick Hansen] or maybe it’s Sam Sullivan” even though I knew they both had the torch already. Who else is in a wheelchair? Who else could it be? No, it’s Man in Motion. But I didn’t realize that was the first one.
Then comes out after that, let me see… maybe that was Nash, I knew it wasn’t Mary Tyler Moore, there was Man in Motion. You know what, one of the flag bearers was the skating one from Winnipeg… there was our gold medal winner from, what’s her name, I’ve gotta look it up. Then the third one was, I gotta look this up. I may have got the flag people mixed up. I forgot to write these things down. One of them was Clara Hughes, the speed-skater. That’s a flag-bearer though. [As though reading from a headline: "Hughes named flag-bearer."] Don’t put that in, she carried it in at the beginning maybe. That’s wrong. This isn’t good. Did you hear about the women’s hockey game today, they massacred those poor [muttering as she reads her notes].
They weren’t flag-bearers, I don’t know what they were. I’ll Google “the final torch-bearer”. I’ll tell you who the last one was but I don’t want to get to that yet. Well, it wasn’t anybody I guessed. The other four final torch-bearers were Steve Nash, Rick Hansen, yeah, the man in motion, Nancy Greene, Catriona Le May Doan, and the final which should’ve been Terry Fox and his mom was Gretzky. Who came in with a hairdo that looked like it was sprayed on with some kind of glue. It was like Barbie and Ken, Ken, it was like it was drawn on, the weirdest looking do I’ve ever seen.
Anyway, so I’m really downtrodden now, I think this is the worst Olympic opening ceremony, the shows were all boring and mediocre and then that was also anti-climactic. Also I thought it was really short compared to Beijing. Then comes the best part, where the five of them are standing there holding the torch, kind of like in a circle but not near each other, they were spread out. They just stood there holding the torch and the camera kept panning from one face to the other for minutes, minutes went by, they just stood there and we’re wondering what’s going on. And you could see they were getting a little bit tired because the torch, they were just holding it up.
Finally it came out that there was something wrong, ‘cos something was supposed to come out of the floor of BC Place that they were supposed to light but it wasn’t working, can you believe it, what else could go wrong, first the guy dies, there were so many mishaps. So finally, finally, it looks like they have it working now, so these weird poles, these big pole things, really high, 50 feet or so, came up out of the ground and kind of went towards each other at the top so they crisscrossed but there wasn’t enough coming up, instead of 5 there were only 3. So Gretzy and that other woman, Catriona Le May Doan, and Gretzky did not have a pole that came up in front of them so they couldn’t light anything.
The other three who had those poles, then they put the torch to the thing and the whole pole all went on fire all lit up in this big huge smoking thing, and we were wondering what else could go wrong. ‘Cos it’s in an enclosed stadium, in fact by the way this is the first time they’ve had it in an enclosed dome.
I figured this was it. But no, that wasn’t it. Gretzky had to leave BC Place and he was standing there with his torch trying to get out, and you know how they have those glass doors to get outside, and it wouldn’t open, so he’s just standing behind the glass and it was air-pressurized and they didn’t have the pressure right so the door wouldn’t open!
The reason it’s pressurized, if too much air comes out of the stadium, the roof will deflate. Can you imagine if they let too much air out and the roof, the flames… it would be so awful.
Anyway. He gets on top of a pickup truck, two people sit in the front and they have a caravan in the back otherwise it’s open, he was standing on top of this, he wasn’t sheltered by anything he was just standing in the back holding onto the cab with his arm in the air with the torch. They had to drive and it’s pouring fucking rain and he’s smiling and waving drving through downtown which is mobbed with people running after this truck and they’re driving forever and we’re wondering where are they going ‘cos Gretzky’s getting soaked, it took a long time to get to where they were going.
And then they finally got there, and Gretzky hopped out of this truck and he lit, it looked kind of like what they had in BC Place, and he lit it up and all these columns went up, he lit this thing and pffft! Can you imagine, but that thing is going to stay lit for 60 days? How is that an environmental thing, how can they keep that lit? That’s so much pollution, obviously it’s gas, it’s not just one flame it’s multi and it’s thick. And so that ended it, finally. Good riddance. That was the biggest waste of money of all. It was a horrifying thing to watch.