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Large helium inflatables create the elements of St. Basil's Cathedral during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: TATYANA ZENKOVICH / EPA

Dancers perform a ballet during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Quinn Rooney / Getty Images

Dancers perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at Fisht Olympic Stadium.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images

Performers sing as the Olympic rings are presented during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. (One ring failed to open.)

PHOTOGRAPH BY: YURI KADOBNOV / AFP/Getty Images

The United States team arrives during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Patrick Semansky / Associated Press

Dancers perform during the opening ceremony of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: TATYANA ZENKOVICH / EPA

A Canadian fan with Olympic rings shaved into his hair makes his way to the opening ceremony for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Adrian Wyld / Associated Press

Dancers perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Clive Mason / Getty Images

Ekaterina Sazonova, 28, holds a Russian flag while waiting to watch the live broadcast of the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Jae C. Hong / Associated Press

Actors perform as characters from the time of Peter the Great during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ryan Pierse / Getty Images

Dancers perform with inflated symbols of Russia during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Ryan Pierse / Getty Images

Supporters wave the Russian flag and cheer as the Russian team enters the stadium during the live telecast of the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics in downtown Sochi.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Wong Maye-E / Associated Press

Props and banners suspended from cranes create an urban landscape during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: HOW HWEE YOUNG / EPA

Fireworks explode above Olympic Park to punctuate the festivities during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Julio Cortez / AFP/Getty Images

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Sochi 2014 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony

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A crowning achievement of President Vladimir Putin’s Russia kicked off Friday with a celebration of its past greatness and hopes for future glory, most especially for a raucous group of Russian athletes who marched into the rollicking opening ceremony of the Sochi Olympics with a message.

To the best athletes in the world, who they’ve invited to the edge of the Black Sea to compete on ice and snow, they sang: You’re “not gonna get us.”

Just after the sun set over the Caucasus Mountains and along the seashore just outside Fisht Stadium in the wet-paint-fresh Olympic Park, Russian TV star Yana Churikova shouted to a crowd still taking their seats: “Welcome to the center of the universe!”

For the next two weeks, it certainly is for the 3,000 athletes who will compete in 98 events, more people and contests than ever at the Winter Games.

– Associated Press

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