SI's shots from the Opening Ceremonies in Vancouver, where more than 50,000 ticketholders packed into the stadium for the first Olympic opening or closing ceremony ever held indoors.
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The opening act featured a snowboarder leaping through giant Olympic rings.
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The ceremonies were dedicated to Nodar Kumaritashvili, the luger from Georgia who died in a training exercise earlier in the day.
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About 2,500 athletes from a record 82 countries are participating in the games, vying for medals in 86 events -- including the newly added ski-cross competition.
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Canada is brashly proclaiming its intention to finish atop the medals table on its home turf.
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The Games began with a colorful indoor ceremony involving a host of stars linking Canada's past with its present.
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The ceremonies highlighted performers and traditions from Canada's aboriginal communities.
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Special effects included tall ice statues.
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China is projected to win 15 medals, four more than it did four years ago.
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The seven remaining members of the Georgian team, who decided to stay and compete, wore black armbands as they marched behind a black-trimmed flag. Most of the crowd rose to give respectful applause.
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The U.S. flagbearer was Mark Grimmette, 39, of Muskegon, Mich., competing in his fifth Olympics as a doubles luge competitor. Kumaritashvili would have been one of his Olympic rivals.
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The loudest ovation came midway through, when the red-clad Canadian team -- aiming for a first-place finish -- entered the stadium as the last contingent of the parade of nations.
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Canadians Nelly Furtado and Bryan Adams sang a tribute to the athletes.
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Celtic fiddlers performed under a stadium-wide cascade of autumn leaves.
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An acrobat on wires performed an aerial ballet to the strains of Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now."
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John Furlong, the chief executive of the Vancouver Organizing Committee, said the aim of the opening ceremonies was to display "the very best of what Canada has to offer."
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The climax called for the cauldron to be lit jointly by four Canadian sports heroes -- all-time hockey great Wayne Gretzky, skier Nancy Greene, basketball All-Star Steve Nash and LeMay Doan. But the former speedskating medalist was left to stand by awkwardly when one of the four pillars holding the Olympic cauldron failed to rise.
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Following the stadium lighting (pictured), Gretzky was transported to a second, far larger cauldron that he lit in a plaza along the downtown waterfront -- giving Vancouver a visible symbol for the rest of the games that the indoor stadium could not provide.
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The flame reached the stadium after a 106-day torch relay across Canada, passing through more than 1,000 communities in every province and territory.
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The Winter Games are scheduled to end on Feb. 28.
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