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13 must-see moments from the Olympics' Opening Ceremony

Olympics Wire logo Olympics Wire 2/9/2018 Chris Chase

Agence France-Presse © Agence France-Presse Agence France-Presse

The 2018 Winter Olympics officially got underway Friday night in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Here are the 13 biggest highlights from a thrilling, wondrous Opening Ceremony.

Getty © Getty Getty

1. A unified Korea

In a move that would have been unthinkable as recently as one month ago, South Korea and North Korea marched into the Olympic Stadium in Pyonechang under a unified flag. Given the rhetoric of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, the biggest question about the Olympics had once been whether he'd use the Games (held 60 miles away from the border) as a way to flex his muscles. Instead, diplomacy won out and athletes walked arm-in-arm as Kin Jong-un's sister watched from the VIP section. The athletes marched out to the song "Arirang," a folk song popular in both the north and south.

Getty © Getty Getty

2. Torch lighting

Perfectly (and unsurprisingly) South Korean figure skating legend Kim Yu-na was given the honor of lighting the Olympic cauldron. For an Olympics that will pride itself on shows of technology, there was something charming and simple about the process, a step back in the arms race of elaborate cauldron lightings. As two of the final torchbearers climbed steps to reach the top of the stadium, Kim was elegantly skating on a small, iced platform under the cauldron. The queen of skating eventually took the torch, dipped it into a set of faux ice and watched as the fire shot up toward the cauldron via a long pole surrounded by 30 circles of fire.

Getty © Getty Getty

The Olympics had begun.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd posing for the camera © Getty

3. Team USA enters

With Erin Hamlin proudly waving the American flag and Shani Davis nowhere in sight, Team USA made a glorious march into the Olympic Stadium. America's first-ever luge singles medalist led in the 244-athlete delegation, dressed warmly in their Ralph Lauren cowboy gloves and $2,000 heated jackets. The team entered as the international hit "Gangnam Style" was blasted on the speakers (organizers played a healthy bit of K-Pop) and never before had the once-catchy, then-annoying, then-super-annoying song sounded so fresh and welcoming. Members of the American team danced to the song (you can debate how ironic they were trying to be), including Shaun White, who was all up into the Psy megahit.

File photo © File Photo File photo

4. Drones

For sheer visual thrill, this was the highlight of the Ceremony. Using 100 skiers and 1,218 drones, Pyeongchang put on a skiing light show on a nearby mountain. As the skiers raced down the hill with red and blue flashing lights on their bodies, it looked a little like Mad Max: Fury Slope. As the skiers finished, the drones converged to perfectly form the Olympic rings above. It was magical.

File Photo © File Photo File Photo

5. The flag enters the stadium

While the athletes marched behind an unified flag, the familiar South Korean flag had earlier been raised high into the Olympic stadium. As it was carried out by a group of top South Korean athletes (including golf legend Se-Ri Pak), the lights on each stadium seat turned red and blue to represent the colors of the flag. The light show on the seats was impressive throughout but especially resonant during this part of the Ceremony.

Peter Kam wearing a suit and tie © Getty

6. Donald and Kim

Two impersonators were escorted from the Olympic Stadium after entering dressed as Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump. (One's doppleganging ability was a little more successful than the other's. Although kudos on the really long tie, fake Trump.) Media ate up the schtick and quoted the two, who said the real men should become friends, all while throwing around Dennis Rodman's name a lot.

a group of people that are standing in the middle of the night © Getty

7. "Imagine"

A quartert of Korean singers (In-Kown Jeon, Eun-mi Lee, Hyun-woo Ha and Ji-yeong An) joined to sing John Lennon's treacly classic (in English, no less). As they sung, dozens of performers holding lights formed the shape of two doves around them and then slowly dissolved them into one.

a large crowd of people © Getty

8. Drummers

You'd have thought that the Beijing Opening Ceremony would have ruined drumming for all other Ceremonies to come. The 2,008 men drumming in perfect rhythm was the pinnacle of the greatest Olympic show in history. Korea didn't shy away from the challenge though. Its looser, more casual drumming section was spot-on - a palette cleanser in between more serious sections that documented Korean traditions and legends.

© Getty

9. Visual effects

From the moment the dramatic pre-Ceremony countdown ended and the floor at Pyeonchang Olympic Stadium looked like it turned to ice, the wondrous visual effects (both high- and low-tech) of the Opening Ceremony were a constant highlight.

a group of people posing for the camera © Getty

10. "Russia" marches into the stadium

The athletes formerly known as Russians walked behind the Olympic flag and wore generic outfits that had no relation to the country from which they hail. Other than that though, this was basically Russia marching into the Winter Olympics. And frankly, the uniforms looked better than most.

Getty © Getty Getty

11. Fireworks

The Ceremony opened with a massive fireworks display, which seemed, at the time, to be like a band opening with its encore. (Save 'em 'til the end!) But numerous displays throughout the Ceremony and then a rousing closing fireworks array at the end tied it all together.

a man wearing a hat © Getty

12. Frigid temperatures

It's been years since the Winter Olympics were held in the frigid cold you associate with winter sports. Vancouver had a warm spell during its Olympics and Sochi is known as the summer capital of Russia. South Korea was sure to flip the script. But how cold is too cold? Negative digits Fahrenheit seemed to be the frigid line of demarcation. Those are the temps that greeted athletes last week and with an open-air arena, there were worries about hypothermia on Friday night. The mercury rose slightly at the end of the week, however, and by the time of the Opening Ceremony, it was a balmy 29 degrees. Even with the heat wave, Pyeonchang still may go down as the coldest Winter Olympics on record.

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