How was Vladimir Putin's television showing 5 rings during the 4-ring malfunction?

Russian President Vladimir Putin staked his reputation and more than $50 billion of the country’s money on the Sochi Olympics, so there’s no doubt everyone involved with the games wanted to make sure they went off without a hitch.

Or at least give that appearance.

[Related: Sochi Opening Ceremony glitch]

One of the biggest gaffes of Friday’s Opening Ceremony – a snowflake that was supposed to morph into an Olympic ring never morphed – might have been hidden from the Russian president by Russian television channel Rossiya 1.

Check out these two pictures by AP photographer David Goldman:

Notice anything odd about the television screens?

In the background is a TV screen broadcasting the live action into Putin’s presidential suite. As you can see, Putin is distracted while the five illuminated snowflakes are supposed to turn into five majestic Olympic rings.

Out in the stadium, four changed while one stubborn snowflake remained, as seen in this photo from the stadium floor:

But when Putin looked up, the snowflake had correctly changed. Actually, everyone watching the Russian feed saw all five rings thanks to some previous lighting footage, a tape delay and some quick thinking. 

Konstantin Ernst, executive creative director of the Opening Ceremony, told the master control room at Russia's state television to go with previously recorded footage from a dress rehearsal when he realized the fifth snowflake wasn't going to turn, according to the Washington Post.

[Related: How the Opening Ceremony stacked up to previous Olympics]

George Tsypin, the show's artistic director, blamed the malfunction on the stage manager.

“This is an open secret,” Ernst told The Associated Press. “This is certainly bad, but it does not humiliate us.”

You think you had a bad day at work? Think about what that poor stage manager must be facing right now. 

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Graham Watson is the editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at or follow her on Twitter!

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