February 06, 2014
As the XXII Winter Olympic Games begin in Sochi, Russia, the athletes who compete must turn their eyes to the sky to see how far the torch that is lighting the Olympic flame has traveled.
This torch, which has journeyed farther than any torch in Olympic relay history, arrives at Fisht Stadium in Sochi on the shores of the Black Sea. The traditional relay began in late September in Olympia, Greece. The torch, which in fact has been a succession of torches, traveled more than 40,000 miles through 2,900 towns and villages in 83 regions of Russia, to the top of Europe’s highest mountain, Mount Elbrus, in the western Caucasus mountain range, to the depths of Siberia’s Lake Baikal.
The symbol of peace, friendship, hope and understanding among the nations participating in the Olympic Games traveled by car, plane, reindeer and train, and by what arguably was its most unusual mode of transportation, a Russian Soyuz rocket that ferried it into space to the International Space Station, itself a symbol of peaceful international cooperation.
More than 14,000 people served as torchbearers during the relay, including Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko, who next year will launch with NASA astronaut Scott Kelly to spend one year on the station; Sergey Krikalev, head of the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center; and Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman to fly in space, who last year marked the 50th anniversary of her ground-breaking mission.
image credit: NASA, Bill Ingalls