Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony: Jamaica's Bobsled Team, an Oiled-Up Flag Bearer and More
By Paige Gawley
MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP via Getty Images
The 2022 Winter Olympics are underway! The opening ceremony was held on Friday, at Beijing's National Stadium, which is also known as the "Bird's Nest," and signaled the official start of the Games.
The Parade of Nations, the part of the ceremony that highlights each competing nation in the Games, featured many standout moments including a shirtless skeleton competitor, a long-awaited moment for Jamaica, and a Ralph Lauren-clad Team USA.
While the U.S. counted its second-largest Olympic delegation in history, other countries had just one athlete set to compete on their behalf. It all came to a close with an epic torch lighting that differed from years past.
Keep reading for the five biggest moments from the opening ceremony.
American Samoa Offers a Replacement for Tonga's Shirtless Athlete
With Tonga's Pita Taufatofua sitting out the Olympics for the first time since 2014, fans worried that the cross-country skier's absence would mean they'd be deprived of a shirtless, oiled-up athlete during the Parade of Nations. They needn't have been concerned, as American Samoa's Nathan Crumpton happily stepped into the role.
The skeleton competitor delighted viewers when he came out for the event in traditional American Samoa garments, save a shirt. Crumpton, the lone American Samoa competitor, served as the flag bearer for his country.
Crumpton nabbed Taufatofua's approval with his appearance, with the former Olympian tweeting, "American Samoa holding the fort."
The Single-Athlete Countries
American Samoa isn't the only country to send a singular athlete to the Games.
Albania, Eritrea, Ecuador, Kyrgyzstan, Malta, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Timor-Leste, India, Nigeria, Uzbekistan, Virgin Islands, Cyprus, Philippines and Ghana are also represented by just one person, most of whom are Alpine skiers.
Peru and Haiti are in the same boat, each represented by one Alpine skier, Ornella Oettl Reyes for the former country and Richardson Viano for the latter. The two countries have something else in common, as the 2022 Games marks their first appearance at a Winter Olympics.
The Four-Man Jamaican Bobsled Team Returns
Jamaica's four-man bobsled team is back. The country's team made headlines when it first competed at the 1988 Games, a story that was eventually chronicled in the 1993 flick Cool Runnings.
The Jamaican four-man last qualified for the Winter Games in 1998, but are making their return this year, more than two decades later.
"We're more than just a movie," Shanwayne Stephens, one of the team members, told the Olympics' official website. "We want to show we're actually fierce competitors and we're out there to put on a really good performance at the Games."
In an interview with the Today show last month, Stephens added, "We've put in a lot of hard work the last four years to achieve what we've achieved. Over the lockdown, we've come up with a way to get our own training done, we didn't want to leave any stone unturned when it came to qualifying for the Games, so we can now look back and say, 'We did everything we could've done to achieve our goal.'"
Team USA Is Ready to Compete
The United States entered the Parade of Nations with speed skater Brittany Bowe and curler John Shuster as flag bearers. The latter made history as the first curler to carry the U.S. flag during the opening ceremony, according to USA Curling.
Meanwhile, Bowe wasn't initially tasked with being a flag bearer, but stepped in to replace bobsledder Elana Meyers Taylor, who tested positive for COVID-19.
Bowe and Shuster led out a record number of U.S. athletes at the opening ceremony, all of whom are part of the second-largest delegation in U.S. history.
Snowboarder Shaun White took fans inside Team USA's opening ceremony adventures with several posts on his Instagram Story.
The Olympic Cauldron Is Lit
At the conclusion of the opening ceremony, Chinese athletes Dinigeer Yilamujiang and Zhao Jiawen, a cross-country skier and Nordic combined competitor, respectively, served as the last two torch bearers.
Instead of lighting a traditional cauldron, the athletes lit the center of a giant snowflake, which was made up of smaller snowflakes that featured the names of every participating country.
After the athletes placed the torch inside of the snowflake, it was lifted into the air.