The Winter Olympics are finally here. The opening ceremony kicked off the Games on Friday in Sochi and revealed a stunning display of visual pomp and grandeur.
The stage looked like a magical, glowing iceberg. The ceremony featured a dizzying performance of Tchaikovsky’s "Swan Lake," and emotional scenes from Tolstoy’s "War and Peace.” There was an elaborate avant-garde interpretation of the country’s Soviet past, a wonderfully idealized version of Russian history.
The Olympics are an opportunity for emerging economies to exhibit their credentials to the world. It happened with China in 2008. It will surely happen with Brazil in 2016. Now it's Russia's turn, and they are putting on the most expensive Winter Olympics to date, at an estimated $50 billion (£30 billion). That’s more than three-times the cost of London’s 2012 Summer Olympics.
Russia has been hit by and avalanche of negative press in the lead-up to the games. Everything from stories on mismanagement and political corruption to concerns over the killing of stray dogs and torch-bearers setting themselves on fire and having heart attacks. There are also security concerns around human rights and terrorism.
But let's not forgt it's all about the sport!
The International Olympic Committee has added 12 new events this year – eight of which have their thrill-seeking roots in the X-Games. These include a biathlon relay, luge team relay, ski halfpipe, and ski and snowboard slopestyle.
Depending on where you live, the best place to catch live streaming of the Sochi Games on smartphones and tablets is via the broadcasting companies who have bought the rights to the games. In the U.S. it's NBC; in the U.K. it's the BBC.
On the Go
We've put together a series of apps to help you keep up with the action!
The “NBC Sports Live Extra” app is a great way to watch the games when you’re on the go. You can access live-streaming video of 98 medal events from 15 Olympic events. The app is free, but the user has to have an existing cable, satellite or telco TV subscription to use it. (Or a friend with a subscription).
The BBC has a similar free app: “BBC Sport’s Olympics”. This is a derivation of the BBC’s regular sports app and functions in the same way. It allows you to watch up to 24 live streams of the action, along with all the highlights and analyses you could wish for. The app features top stories, schedules and results, a medals table, and a page for every Olympic sport, every competing country and every athlete taking part.
If you’re like me, you aren’t too worried about catching all of the action live. However, you are interested in staying up to date with events and results - and of course the medal race and nationalism of the whole event.
In this case, you might want to go straight to the source: the free “Sochi 2014 Results” app. This is one of two official apps produced for the Sochi Games. It's a simple, easy-to-use app, displaying results, stats, medal counts and athlete profiles. You can customize the app to show only information you’re interested in.
Accompanying this app is the “Sochi 2014 Guide.” This provides access to all the infinitesimal details on everything about the games. It gives schedules for competitions and details on who is broadcasting events. It even gives you access to maps of Sochi and where everything is taking place.
If you’re interested in tracking your favorite athletes, we recommend the “Olympic Athletes’ Hub” app. It connects you directly to their Twitter, Facebook and Instagram feeds, combining all their social media coverage. So far, it has provided some amazing photos of the lead-up and opening ceremony, featuring amusing commentary from athletes are behind-the-scenes stories.
You can watch Shaun White eating McDonald’s and Jenny Jones on her final training sessions. Lots of photos and fun little updates to make you feel as if you’re there with the stars of the show!