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Opening ceremony kicks off Sochi Olympics

Sochi, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Beijing opened with a choreographed stunner, Vancouver with a hiccup when its cauldron didn't fully deploy and London with a stuntman playing the queen leaping from a helicopter in a typically cheeky British display.

What will the opening ceremony for the most expensive Olympics in history bring?

Reports indicated the Sochi Winter Games will begin Friday with a ceremony celebrating, among other things, the arts in Russia, including its classical music and ballet.

The faux-lesbian Russian pop duo t.A.T.u. was expected to perform during the pre-ceremony, an oddity considering the country's recently passed laws aimed at keeping gay "propaganda" away from children.

The ceremony was set to begin at 8:14 p.m. local time at Fisht Olympic Stadium on the coast of the Black Sea -- 11:14 a.m. on the U.S. East Coast.

NBC wasn't streaming the ceremony live online so Americans won't be able to watch it until the network broadcast starts at 7:30 p.m. ET.

As is typical at Olympic opening ceremonies, nations will enter the stadium in alphabetical order. Except for Greece, which traditionally goes first as the home of the Olympics, and the host Russians, who will enter last.

Nordic combined athlete Todd Lodwick, competing in his sixth Olympics, was set to carry the U.S. flag.

Canada's flag bearer is women's hockey player Hayley Wickenheiser.

U.S. President Barack Obama was among several prominent world leaders who opted not to attend the ceremony, but many others were expected to be on hand.

How Sochi's Olympic cauldron will be lit has remained a well-guarded secret, as is typically the case.