In an age-old ceremony, the Olympic torch was lit on Sunday, September 29 and will begin its 65,000-kilometer journey to light the flame of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The first to bear the torch is Greece’s own alpine skier, 18-year old Ioannis Antoniou. He will pass it on to Aleksandr Ovechkin, ice hockey star and the first Russian to carry an Olympic torch. In all, 250 torchbearers will take the Olympic flame through 33 towns and 23 regions to arrive on October 5 at the birthplace of the first modern Olympic Games, the old Olympic stadium in Athens. A member of the Russian delegation, the hosts of the 2014 games, will receive the torch and take it on what will be the longest journey of an Olympic torch in Winter Olympic history.
Once in Russian hands, the flame will travel through 2,900 towns across 83 Russian regions by 14,000 different runners. The torch will travel by train, plane, car, Russian troika and reindeer sleigh. At one point it will be lowered into Lake Baikal, going to Mount Elbrus, the highest point in Europe. The Olympic flame will get to the North Pole by a nuclear icebreaker.
In an historical event, this torch will be the first to travel in space. It will travel on board the manned spaceship, the Soyuz TMA-11M to arrive at the International Space Station.
The Russian route is estimated to take 123 days.
The opening ceremonies of the 2114 Winter Olynpics will air on February 7.
By: Lisa Nance