The Russian Report: Russia Readies for Longest Torch Relay in Winter Olympic History
(ATR) Beginning its journey in Moscow, the Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch Relay will travel 65,000 kilometers with approximately 14,000 torchbearers carrying the flame through 83 regions of Russia.
|Russian ice dancers Tatiana Navka and Ilia Averbukh pose with the torch at its unveiling in January. (Getty Images)
The cauldron at Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi will be lit at the opening ceremony on February 7th, concluding the longest Torch Relay in Winter Olympic history encompassing a distance of more than one and a half times the circumference of the Earth.
Along its 123-day tour, the nearly one-meter tall, 1.8 kilogram chrome torch, which is adorned with red detail, will travel by car, train, plane, reindeer sleigh and Russian troika, passing through 2,900 towns and cities.
For the first time in history, the Olympic Torch will be sent into outer space. On November 7th, the Soyuz TMA-11M spaceship – with torch on board – will travel to the International Space Station (ISS) on a four-day space excursion.
Once in space, Russian cosmonauts Sergei Ryazan and Oleg Kotov will chaperone the unlit torch on an unprecedented spacewalk.
“Nobody has done this before,” said Sochi 2014 CEO Dmitry Chernyshenko in an official statement. “The spacewalk by two Russian cosmonauts with the Sochi 2014 Olympic torch will be a historic moment in the history of the Olympic Torch Relay. I want to thank the Federal Space Agency for its support, which will take the Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch Relay to the final frontier.”
|Valentina Tereshkova, the world's first female astronaut, will be among the 14,000 torchbearers leading the way to Sochi. (Getty Images)
Among the 14,000 torchbearers who will have the honor of carrying the Olympic Flame during the relay are the world’s first female astronaut Valentina Tereshkova, four-time Olympic gymnastics champion Alexei Nemov, Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva, Olympic synchronized swimming champion Maria Kiseleva, cardiovascular surgeon Maksim Strakhov and hockey star Alexander Ovechkin.
“I’m very excited," Ovechkin said about the opportunity to participate in the torch relay. "It’s a big thing in Russia and it’s a very good thing. I’m very proud that I’m one of the guys who is going to have the torch. I’m very happy and it means a lot to me.”
Included in the list of 6,000 torchbearers released in July, are 136 representatives from foreign nations, including citizens of the United States, Brazil, Japan, Korea, Sweden, Ukraine, Great Britain and Spain, among others. The Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee is expected to release the final list of approximately 8,000 additional torchbearers at the end of September.
After the ceremonial lighting in ancient Olympia, Greece, the flame will be transported to Moscow on October 7. The Torch Relay begins its journey, spiraling out from the capital, before being flown from St. Petersburg to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, its westernmost point. From there, it heads north by plane to the port city of Murmansk, which is the relay’s northernmost destination.
After traveling across the White Sea, the Torch Relay continues its long trek east through nine time zones en route to the port city of Anadyr, the easternmost point in Russia.
Next, the journey travels southwest to Vladivostok, near Russia’s borders with China and North Korea, before venturing west, back towards Moscow, across lower Siberia via Lake Baikal, the world’s largest freshwater lake.
After reaching Nizhny Novgorod northeast of the Russian capital, the Torch Relay dips south, proceeding to complete the four-month journey in the 2014 Olympic host city of Sochi on February 7th.
Written by Brian Pinelli.
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