Russia kicks off Winter Olympics in style

OK. So it was my first Olympic Opening Ceremony.

So I have nothing to compare it to.

But it was incredible. The Russians put on a spectacular show on Friday to open the Winter Olympics in the most beautiful arena I’ve ever seen.

It was thrilling to see in person. The musical performances. Watching the U.S. team enter the arena. And hearing (and feeling) the hip hop music as the Russians entered.

Quick note: OK, this is seriously the coolest job on the planet.

And when it was done — or rather, when the Olympic torch left the stadium — I raced down the steps to a bus, trying to beat the crowd.

As the Olympic cauldron was lighted, the sky lit up with one of the most incredible fireworks displays that I’ve seen.

It was like I was standing inside a fireworks display. There was an explosion of lights and sound and it was breathtaking.

I looked around and dozens, if not hundreds, of police officers and security guards pulled out their phones. Several stoic looking officers smiled and took selfies.

Others stood and posed together, arm-in-arm, as the sky exploded with color. You could see the pride and joy in their faces.

There has been so much concern about security in these Games, but for that moment, they were just people. Celebrating this moment. Celebrating everything good about the Olympics.

I walked through the parking lot as another fireworks display exploded in another part of the sky.

Several dark sedans with dark tinted windows came racing across this secure parking lot. The sedans were trailed by a large vehicle, bigger than a van, stuffed with big, beefy security guards.

At the entrance, there were several men wearing dark suits — and nobody was wearing suits at this event. They had communication devices in their ears and they had the look of Secret Security.

I took a step and one of the sedans, the one that was being protected, nearly hit me.

I jumped up on the curb and the cars raced down the road in a tight, nimble train. Suddenly, three more cars came out of nowhere and joined the procession.

Who was in that car? I don’t know for sure.

But for generations to come — my children, and my children’s children — this day will forever be known as the day I nearly got run over by Vladimir Putin.


Posted by Tribune News Services

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