The 2022 Winter Olympics have begun. This year’s competition officially kicked off on February 4 with the Opening Ceremony in Beijing, China. For anyone who didn’t wake up at 6:30 a.m. ET to watch in real time, NBC also aired a replay with an increased focus on Team USA at 8 p.m. ET. While the entire event undoubtedly glowed with a political charge, it also literally shone with fireworks, LED light displays, and of course, the Olympic flame that will now burn in a snowflake-shaped cauldron until the end of the games. Vulture has put together a guide on all the different ways to watch the Winter Olympics, and you can look at the full schedule of events here. If you missed the opening festivities, don’t worry. Read on for a roundup of some of the ceremony’s most memorable moments.
The return of “Map Daddy”
Steve Kornacki helped NBC break down the data on the 224 athletes competing for the United States. We imagine that pointing out specific states was a lot less stressful for him this time than it was on Election Night.
The light shows
Amid the ongoing pandemic, this year’s ceremony relied heavily on an electronic light display.
Team USA’s arrival
Curler John Shuster and speed-skater Brittany Bowe led the American athletes into the Bird’s Nest stadium. (Bowe was a last-minute replacement for bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor, who tested positive for COVID.)
The Italians and their capes
In a way, these outfits ensured that everyone on the Italian Olympics team got to be a flag bearer. Victoria “I think we all sing” Justice would approve.
Putin taking a convenient nap
When the Ukrainian athletes appeared during the Parade of Nations, NBC cut to the Russian leader, who just so happened to have his eyes closed.
Malta’s colorful flag bearer
The hair, the hidden banana, and the fact that she was the only representative of her country … iconic.
The Rock’s commercial
It’s about drive, it’s about power. Actor/motivational rapper Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is apparently now also an official hype man for Team USA.
A new shirtless man
Even though the temperature in the stadium was in the 20s, athlete (and professional model) Nathan Crumpton stepped out without a shirt to represent American Samoa. Famously oily Tongan athlete Pita Taufatofua was not there this year because he was assisting with relief efforts for his home country, which suffered a volcanic eruption and tsunami last month.
Another cover of John Lennon’s “Imagine”
Gal Gadot may have admitted that the “Imagine” video she made with her celebrity friends did not “transcend,” but the Olympics still hasn’t given up hope on the power of this song.
Kids falling on their butts
In arguably the best moment of the entire ceremony, we were treated to a video montage of many small children falling on ice or snow as they attempted to learn a variety of winter sports. Much like a certain camera, they just kept tumbling down.