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Updated: Fri, 07 Mar 2014 11:41:06 GMT | By CBC Sports, cbc.ca

Paralympics opening ceremony begins in Sochi



The opening ceremony of the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games gets started at Fisht Stadium in Sochi, Russia, on Friday. CBC

The opening ceremony of the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games gets started at Fisht Stadium in Sochi, Russia, on Friday. CBC

The 2014 Sochi Paralympics are kicking off with a lavish opening ceremony at Fisht Stadium on Friday.

Titled “Breaking the Ice,” the ceremony centres around the Paralympic ideal of breaking down barriers. It will consist of 2,500 performers.

It will also include an appearance by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who will open the Paralympics ​officially with a speech during the ceremony.

One of the most anticipated sights of the ceremony will be when a 42-metre-long boat makes its journey along the stadium floor, scattering ice in its wake.

It’ll all be tied together by four short films by Academy Award-winning animator Aleksandr Petrov, which depict a firebird making its journey from the clouds through Russia and finally into Fisht Stadium, and will culminate in the lighting of the Paralympic cauldron.

The athletes will enter the stadium from a central ramp, akin to the opening ceremony of the Olympics, and will be led to their seats by woodland creatures and spirit birds, while 204 illuminated light poles on the grounds will mimic the feeling of walking through the forest.

Team Canada’s 54 Paralympic athletes will enter the stadium 19th, to be led by flag-bearer Sonja Gaudet. The Canadian wheelchair curler is going for her third straight Paralympic gold medal in the sport, and has been part of three world championship-winning rinks for Canada.

Competition begins Saturday, with Canada’s sledge hockey team and curlers both in action, along with a full slate of events in alpine skiing and the biathlon. 

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