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Utah Man Had Big Part in Opening Ceremonies

Utah Man Had Big Part in Opening Ceremonies

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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Shelley Osterloh reporting This global celebration of sport and the Olympic ideal of peaceful competition is a wonderful concept, born right here in Greece more than a hundred years ago.

Last night's opening ceremony was a chance for the Greeks to show their pride and hospitality. But a Utah man helped set the stage.

Nothing can compare with the pure grandeur and spectacle of Olympic Opening ceremonies. The complex staging, props, and special effects take years to create and organize. It is a huge challenge. And a Utah man who choreographed parts of the Salt Lake ceremonies, is working with the Greeks.

Paul Winkelman, Assistant Field Choreographer: “I'm proud that it worked, everything worked, everything from the floats. To the head being able to break apart to the athletes being able to get into the grid, because we were up till all hours of the night rechanging numbers and refiguring constantly, so we could get all the athletes in. So you never know its going to actually work because we don't work with them until the day of.”

Paul Winkelman is the Assistant Field Choreographer for the Athlete's March. It was his job to organize the placard bearers and audience leaders, and figure out how to get nearly 13-thousand athletes - the largest group in Olympic History--- into the smallest stage area. But he also assisted in many others ways too.

Paul Winkelman, Assistant Field Choreographer: “Of course its live theater, so nothing is ever perfect… but in my opinion the show was perfect, it was beautiful, and everything came off, we were very very proud of it, and the people of Greece were extremely proud of the show which they were able to do.”

Before the 2002 games, Paul Winkelman directed a champion ballroom dance team at Alta High. Now he is a school counselor and teacher at Brighton High.

He says he hopes to take home a message to students:

Paul Winkelman, Assistant Field Choreographer: “I've used so much math in this show… that everything they are learning in school... They are going to use sometime in their life. And also to prepare themselves to go out into the world and contribute. That's probably one of the most important things.

Winkelman's contribution continues here in Athens. Now he's helping with rehearsals for Closing Ceremonies.

Did he give you any hint of what's closing ceremonies?

I asked if he could give us a hint what the closing ceremonies would be like, ut it's a secret. He did say it is quite different from the show we saw last night.

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