The kickoff for the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, was a treat. The games opened with an elaborate fantasy scenario, in which five small children were caught up in some kind of wild adventure that involved dragons and white tigers. But was the opening ceremony on ice? While that would make the event that much more impressive, it looks like the ceremony took place on a stage, and special lighting effects made it appear as if the show was taking place on ice.
Starting around 6 a.m. ET, the opening ceremony kicked off with the five children going out on their own, only to stumble into the Olympic stadium, where wild animals and fanciful creatures awaited them.
A white light simulating ice spread throughout the stage from where the children stood. Then, dozens of dancers and drummers and other performers in costume joined the children on the 360-degree stage.
While the performance may not have been on actual ice, the open-air PyeongChang Olympic Stadium doesn't have a central heating system, so it was likely very cold for the performers. It was only around 32 degrees Fahrenheit the morning the Olympic Games kicked off.
When the opening ceremony performance was finished, each Olympic country's delegates were introduced, with the United States having the largest group, and the athletes made their way around the stadium. Each group proudly flew their flag and waved to fans in the audience.
There was reportedly a lot of symbolism behind the opening ceremony's narrative. The children were following Soohorang the White Tiger, a traditional South Korean guardian god and this year's Olympic mascot.
The white tiger "has been long considered Korea’s guardian animal," according to the official 2018 PyeongChang Olympics website. "Sooho" is Korean for "protection" and the mascot for the 2018 Games, Soohorang, represents protection for athletes, participants, and fans at the Olympics.
In 2018, the Winter Olympics are the biggest they've been in history, with the most countries ever in attendance. According to the PyeongChang Games website, this comes from increased support for winter sports worldwide.
"We continue to see a spike in excellence from Americans competing in winter sports as the sport program expands to include more opportunities for our athletes," said Alan Ashley, U.S. chef de mission and USOC chief of sport performance. "We are primed and ready for another strong showing from our athletes, who have made a long-time commitment to represent us as the best in the U.S. at these Games, and we look forward to cheering for each member of Team USA on the world's greatest stage."
Nearly 35,000 spectators watched the opening ceremony for the 23rd Olympic Winter Games on Friday. It kicked off with a theatrical performance full of symbolism representing unity and protection, and culminated with a message of peace. Members of the Koreas' unified women's hockey team, Park Jong-ah of South Korea and Chung Su-hyon of North Korea, carried the torch to the Olympic cauldron together (after one epic stair climb).
They then passed the torch off to South Korea's figure skating star Yuna Kim, aka "Queen Yuna." At the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada, she took home the gold, becoming the first South Korean athlete to ever win a medal in figure skating. In 2014, she competed in Sochi, Russia, and earned a silver medal. She retired after Sochi, but is an official ambassador for the 2018 Games.
While the rest of the opening ceremony didn't occur on ice, the Olympic cauldron was on a separate, ice-covered platform. Kim was in her element as she skated over to light the cauldron, officially kicking off the 2018 Winter Games.