Olympic flame begins countdown to Sochi 2014
The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia are roughly four months away, and the Olympic torch has to travel over 40,000 miles on its journey, not including a quick jaunt up to space, before the opening ceremony on February 7. That quest began Sunday morning in Greece.
The ceremony was quite elaborate. Costumed performers in the ancient Temple of Hera asked the Greek God Apollo to send the sun's rays to earth to light the flame of the Olympic Games.
The sun's rays were harnessed using a parabolic mirror to light the torch. This doesn't seem safe, but we're not fire experts, and the ceremony went off without a hitch:
Greek actress Ino Menegaki, playing the role of the high priestess for the third time, lit the Olympic torch and passed it and an olive branch symbolizing peace to the first relay torchbearer, Greek alpine skier Giannis Antoniou. He then passed the torch to Sochi Games ambassador Alexander Ovechkin, an ice hockey star who became the first Russian to carry the flame.
The Sochi 2014 committee also confirmed that the torch will be the first in history to travel in space, approximately 400km to the International Space Station (ISS) on board of the Soyuz TMA-11M manned spaceship.
"Nobody has done this before. 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," said head of the organizing committee at a press conference dedicated to the event.
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