SochiI, Russia: Here are three things we learned from Friday night's opening ceremony of the Sochi Games.
The hammer and sickle still pack a punch. The symbols of Soviet rule came in the form of giant foam sculptures floating in the air during a portion of the program devoted to Russia's Communist past. The hammer started on one side of the arena and the sickle on the other and a Soviet hymn played after the two passed in the air, dramatic as ever.
Swan Lake is even more hauntingly beautiful in front of a Russian audience. Tchaikovsky's ballad played during a piece about Russian industrialism and totalitarianism of its past. When a group of hard liners grabbed power in 1991, Soviet state TV played it all day long, and the Russian crowd was on the edge of its collective seat as it filled the arena.
The Russians can adjust on the fly. The ceremony opened with a blunder when one of the five Olympic Rings failed to transform from a snowflake. By the end of the program, all five rings were formed, glowing and joined when hockey great Vladislav Tretiak and figure skating icon Irina Rodnina lit the flame.