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Russian TV shows doctored video of Olympic rings

In a combo of frame grabs taken from Russian television, five snowflakes float together in Fisht Stadium during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Friday, Feb. 7, 2014. During the live ceremony, the fifth ring failed to fully open to create the Olympics rings. On Russian television, producers inserted footage from a dress rehearsal when all five rings joined together and erupted in pyrotechnics.(AP Photo)

SOCHI, Russia (AP) -- Smoke and mirrors? Russian state television aired footage Friday of five floating snowflakes turning into the Olympic rings and bursting into pyrotechnics at the Sochi Games opening ceremony. Problem is, that didn't happen.

The opening ceremony at the Winter Games hit a bump when only four of the five rings materialized in a wintry opening scene. The five were supposed to join together and erupt in fireworks. But one snowflake never expanded, and the pyrotechnics never went off.

But everything worked fine for viewers of the Rossiya 1, the Russian host broadcaster.

As the fifth ring got stuck, Rossiya cut away to rehearsal footage. All five rings came together, and the fireworks exploded on cue.

"It didn't show on television, thank God," Jean-Claude Killy, the French ski great who heads the IOC coordination commission for the Sochi Games, told The Associated Press.

Producers confirmed the switch, saying it was important to preserve the imagery of the Olympic symbols.

The unveiling of the rings is always one of the most iconic moments of an opening ceremony, and President Vladimir Putin has been determined to use the ceremony as an introduction of the new Russia to the world.

Konstantin Ernst, executive creative director of the opening ceremony, told reporters at a news conference that he called down to master control to tell them to go the practice footage when he realized what happened.

"This is an open secret," he said, referring to the use of the pre-recorded footage. The show's artistic director George Tsypin said the malfunction was caused by a bad command from a stage manager.

Ernst defended his decision, saying that the most important part was preserving the images and the Olympic tradition: "This is certainly bad, but it does not humiliate us."

NBC was to air the ceremony in the U.S. on tape delay later Friday, and said in a statement: "We will show things as they happened tonight."

Glitches are not uncommon at Olympic opening ceremonies.

There was a minor controversy over trickery involving the fireworks at the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, after it was revealed that some of the display featured prerecorded footage.

Fireworks bursting into the shape of gigantic footprints were shown trudging above the Beijing skyline to the National Stadium near the start of the ceremony. Officials confirmed that some of the footage shown to TV viewers around the world and on giant screens inside the stadium featured a computer-generated, three-dimensional image.

In addition, a tiny, pigtailed 9-year-old girl in a red dress who sang "Ode to the Motherland" was lip-synching. The real voice belonged to a 7-year-old girl who was replaced because she was deemed not cute enough by a member of China's Politburo.

At the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Luciano Pavarotti's performance was prerecorded. The maestro who conducted the aria, Leone Magiera, said the bitter cold made a live performance impossible.

Join the discussion

1000|Char. 1000  Char.
WanDa February 08 2014 at 2:49 PM

Why focus on this minor detail..so what?? it could've happened anywhere..better than all sorts of celebrity 'wardrobe malfunctions"....sheesh!!!!

Flag Reply +5 rate up
1 reply
jijjhnsn WanDa February 08 2014 at 3:55 PM

Anything to diss the Russians is all okay for America media. They started with bad hotel, to killing dogs, to this. It's gonna be a long 3 weeks of propaganda.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
swifterman February 08 2014 at 10:07 AM

. . .
As Washington doctors almost everything - so better keep cool !

Flag Reply +4 rate up
airtik February 08 2014 at 10:18 AM

My husband and I saw 4 snowflakes open last night so the mistake did indeed AIR!!!

Flag Reply +2 rate up
Carol February 08 2014 at 10:36 AM

It's certain death for that poor little snowflake who failed to follow orders!

Flag Reply +2 rate up
mylinalan February 08 2014 at 10:43 AM

It is so sad that the headlines focus only on a technical glitch when the Opening Ceremony was so sensational.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
ddijobs4u February 08 2014 at 1:49 PM

Wow, I hope the 7 year old girl never finds out her voice was good enough for the olympics, but not her beauty.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
kippenhanbaby February 08 2014 at 10:53 AM

Here we go, the journalist have to have a big story. First off who care's if the 5th ring did not come together in the beginning. This is life, crap happen's, technology can fail, big deal. They came to gether in the end thats all that matters. Focus on how great Russia did when all we read was they were not ready. Ha........Can't hide that from the public. The US citizens were very very pleased and happy for Russia. NEXT.

Flag Reply +10 rate up
jrrosenthal February 08 2014 at 11:02 AM

Is this a big problem??? I thought he was kinda cute sitting up there taking in all that was happening. Get a grip people!

Flag Reply +4 rate up
Kat4Hat February 08 2014 at 5:10 PM

I there is one organization that benefited from this glitch- it is British Petroleum - they got a free commercial!

Flag Reply +1 rate up
tmoschetti February 08 2014 at 12:22 PM

Unlike anything thyat could EVER happen here with our completely honest media coverage of events!

Flag Reply +4 rate up
1 reply
John and Carrie tmoschetti February 08 2014 at 1:11 PM

Yeah, the internet version of National Enquirer.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
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