Friday Feb. 7, 2014 09:48 ET

Past Olympic opening ceremonies' wildest moments

The good, the bad and the cringe-worthy

A snowboarder jumps through the Olympic Rings.
Canadians have wild memories of Vancouver's Opening Ceremony. (Cris Bouroncle/AFP/Getty Images)

The opening ceremony at a Winter Olympics is usually a time for pomp, pageantry and a celebration of the host nation’s culture. Most of the time, it’s a pretty entertaining show. There's always something to remember. 

Of course, there’s always that one moment at an opening ceremony that leaves a lasting impression for good or ill. Sometimes they’re cringe-worthy, and other times they’re genuinely moving. In any event, the opening ceremony is always a memorable event.  

1988: Calgary

Canada’s first Winter Olympics were fantastically organized, well-attended and fun to watch. It was a kind of event that brought Canada together.

And there was also dancing. A lot of dancing. Seniors doing line dancing. Even a cross between yogic flyers and French artists all attacking their jackets in a very "unique" chorus/dance routine. 

It was pure Canadiana in the 1980s: earnest, sincere and maybe a little cheesy at times. The proof's on YouTube: 


1992: Albertville

After the down-to-earth ruggedness of Calgary, Albertville’s ceremony was like going into an expensive avant-garde art gallery. There were scenes out of Cirque du Soleil, like this:

1994: Lillehammer

Norway’s opening ceremony was pretty spectacular by all accounts, but no one has ever topped the way they lit the Olympic cauldron before or since: a ski jumper taking off with the Olympic flame. Yes, it was as amazing then as it is now.


1998: Nagano

The most surreal moment of a really great opening ceremony was seeing world-famous conductor Seiji Ozawa lead a choir in Beethoven’s Ode To Joy. It started out small, but then grew into a mind-blowing world choir of past and future Olympic cities.


2002: Salt Lake City

Held just six months after the 9/11 attacks, the 2002 Winter Olympics were memorable all on their own just for the darker tone the opening ceremony had. The most moving moment was seeing American athletes carry the shredded U.S. flag that had once flown atop the World Trade Center into the Olympic Stadium. It was powerful, intense and even hard to watch at times.


2006: Torino

Italians know how to put on a great show, and the Torino opening ceremonies did not disappoint. There were plenty of crazy moments in their opening ceremonies, but Luciano Pavaroti’s stunning, incredible final public performance of Nessun Dorma, which delivered chills to a worldwide audience, left a huge imprint.  

2010: Vancouver

Vancouver’s opening ceremony was very different from Calgary’s two decades earlier: it was considerably bigger, a little cheeky at times and was held indoors. Of course, Vancouver’s memorable opening ceremony moment was the one moment that Canadians probably would rather forget. You know which one: the hydraulic Olympic Cauldron failure. 

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