The 2014 Olympic Torch Relay
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
The Olympic Torch is set alight in Athens by the light of the sun, and then travels to the host city via a circuitous route and a large number of carriers.
The Russian torch began its journey on the 29th of September 2013, and it has been one of the most interesting relays yet. The main route of 65,000 kilometres through Russia was aimed at placing it within an hour's reach of 90 per cent of the country's population. Some of the interesting Russian destinations included the Avachinsky Volcano area in Kamchatka and the ancient Ivolginsky Datsan Buddhist temple in Buryatia. It travelled by everything from planes to reindeer and dog sledges to hot air balloons.
However, it was the four special relay routes that caught the world's attention:
- For the first time in history, the torch reached the North Pole on the 19th of October aboard a Russian nuclear-powered icebreaker. It took a record time of just 91 hours to travel from Murmansk to the planet's most Northern point inside a special lantern. 11 scientists of the Arctic's natural resources participated in the overnight ceremony on the ice.
- Two experienced mountain climbers then took it up Mount Elbrus in the Kabardino-Balkar Republic, which is the highest point in Europe. They carried it in a special lantern, which enabled it to remain alight at 5,642 metres above sea level.
- The Russians were not the first to take an Olympic torch to the International Space Station, but they were the first to take it on a space walk. For safety reasons, and due to the lack of oxygen in space, the torch remained unlit. Two astronauts passed the torch to each other while floating 420 kilometres above earth and the event was broadcast live on Russian television.
- It reached another milestone on the 23rd of November, when a team of divers took it down into Siberia’s Baikal Lake, the world’s deepest and oldest freshwater lake. It was kept alight by a special pyrotechnic charge. Three bearers in full diving gear passed the torch to each other at a depth of 15 metres. After returning it to the surface, the last bearer rocketed with it ten metres above the lake in a special jetpack.