The Olympics suffered an embarrassing mechanical failure during the opening ceremonies for the Sochi Games on Friday.
A giant illuminated snowflake that was supposed to morph into an Olympic ring failed, leaving just four rings of the iconic symbol complete while the fifth remained in a snowflake pattern.
One of the rings forming the Olympic rings fails to open during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Friday, Feb. 7, 2014. (AP/Robert F. Bukaty)
One of the Olympic rings fails to open during a portion of the show where snowflakes were supposed to transition to rings during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Friday, Feb. 7, 2014. (AP/Ivan Sekretarev)
Watch this footage of the moment:
The rings emerged from snowflakes as the lighting system electronically expanded outward. By all appearances, it seems that the mechanics of the fifth ring just didn't operate properly.
The five were supposed to join together and erupt in pyrotechnics to get the party started. Instead, they were eventually darkened and moved out of the arena, just as Russian President Vladimir Putin was introduced.
The unveiling of the rings is always one of the most iconic moments of an opening ceremony, and Putin has been determined to use the ceremony as an introduction of the new Russia to the world.
Russian state television then aired doctored footage of the event Friday, showing the fifth ring working properly.
Everything appeared to work 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.
Producers confirmed the switch, saying it was important to preserve the imagery of the Olympic symbols.
The broken snowflake isn't the first opening ceremony blunder in Olympic history, of course. Vancouver, Sydney and Seoul all had issues with the torch lighting.
The Associated press contributed to this report. This story has been updated.