Parade of Nations begins, as Greece leads the world’s Winter Olympians to the Sochi stage

After a fluorescent army of red, white and blue soldiers form the Russian flag on the stadium floor, the focus shifts to the journey of the Olympic torch, starting from Greece. The subtext here is Russia’s reach across roughly one-eighth of the globe. The torch is skiing, atop mountains, touring tiny villages and even goes into space. That’s how far Russia’s reach extends!

More than any previous Opening Ceremony, Sochi’s has been scripted for the TV viewer. We are here in the stadium but can’t fully appreciate the spectacle without staring up at a screen.

But here we go with the Parade of Nations, starting with Greece, who got this Olympic thing going!

As a reminder, we’re following the Russian alphabet from here on. The variations aren’t terribly wild. Now comes Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan and so on. But if you’re keeping an eye out for the United States, in this case it comes before the “T” countries.

To clue you in: The U.S. delegation will follow this sequence of “S” countries: San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia. Six-time Olympian Todd Lodwick, a Nordic combined skier, will bear the United States’ flag.

So if you see Tajikistan march by, you’ve missed Team USA.

As promised, the athletes are emerging from under Fisht Stadium at the precise moment that the Earth, seen from space, rotates to their home on the globe.

What heads of state are present in the stadium seem to be enjoying it a great deal. Notably missing: U.S. President Barack Obama, German President Joachim Gauck and French President Francoise Hollande.

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Matt Rennie | February 7