South Koreans really know how to entertain. They pulled out all the stops to welcome us for the opening of the competition. It was stirring to see the flags carried in by the athletes. Over 600 athletes from 40 countries were represented. All were given equal honor whether represented by one (United Kingdom) or thirty (China Tai Pei) skaters.
Many Korean dignitaries spoke during the ceremony (either live or via recorded video) to welcome and encourage the skaters. Included among these were the Mayor of Yeosu City and the governor of Jeolia-Nam Province. They touted roller skating as an eco-friendly sport that is easily accessible and expressed hope that it may still emerge as an Olympic sport. The President of Korea stated that there were 3 million people in Korea engaged in some form of roller sports.
The arena was full of spectators as well as athletes. Many school children from elementary through high school age were bused in for the evening's entertainment. An unexpected part of the pre-show entertainment included an invitation by the emcee for an impromptu performance by our very own Devin Firek (Porkchop) and Eben Jackson. (Watch for that video on Utube or Facebook.)
Entertainment for the evening also included: a five person high-energy dance troupe; a group of traditional drummers; a really cool laser light show by Razor Performance; a famous local soprano who wrote a special theme song just for the championships called “Sing, Sing”; and a top local entertaining dance trio who maxed out the moves to top pop songs (ex. Boom Boom Pow and Single Ladies) [May find this on Utube also.]
All the athletes were laughing and joking and having fun tossing their national trinkets into the stands. The kids all screamed for the Team USA gifts of pins, small balls, flags, and red, white, and blue necklaces. The athletes enjoyed pleasing the crowd. There is a great sense of anticipation and a bit of nerves in the camp tonight as racing starts bright and early tomorrow.