Sochi CEO Dmitry Chernyshenko confirmed Monday that this year’s record-breaking Relay will include a handoff out in the vacuum of space.
“Nobody has done this before. The spacewalk by two Russian cosmonauts with the Sochi 2014 Olympic torch will be an historic moment in the history of the Olympic torch relay,” Chernyshenko said. “I want to thank the Federal Space Agency for its support which will enable us to take the Sochi 2014 OlympicTorch Relay to the final frontier.”
The Torch will ride to the International Space Station aboard the Soyuz TMA-11M spaceship on November 7, and then Russia cosmonauts Sergei Ryazansky and Oleg Kotov will take it out for a spacewalk sometime during their mission, which was moved up from a few weeks from November 25 in order to accommodate the historic Relay.
Of course, for safety reasons, Chernyshenko stressed that the Flame won’t be lit during its trip.
But while the spacewalk is certainly unique, this will actually be the third time the Torch has traveled outside of Earth’s atmosphere. In 1976, the Flame was converted to an electronic impulse in Greece, then beamed into space and sent back down to Canada via satellite – science! And in 2000 the Torch made a trip aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis ahead of the Sydney Games.
This year’s relay, which starts October 7, will take 123 days, stretch more than 50,000 miles and include more than 14,000 Torchbearers before it lands in Sochi for the Opening Ceremony on February 7.
Fenway Park will host some of the world’s best freeskiers in the one-of-a-kind Big Air at Fenway, live on NBC Sports Live Extra on Friday night.
Big air skiers will descend from a ramp that’s four times higher than the Green Monster inside the hallowed Boston Red Sox home.
Ski big air is most like slopestyle of the current Olympic disciplines, except skiers get one jump per run.
WATCH LIVE: Big Air at Fenway — 8:30 p.m. ET
On Thursday, Canadian Max Parrot and American Julia Marino won the snowboard big air competitions at Fenway Park.
Big Air at Fenway coverage will conclude with an NBC show on Saturday at 5 p.m. ET.
MORE: Olympic champ suffers concussion at Big Air at Fenway practice
In an homage to the Lillehammer 1994 Winter Olympics, Princess Ingrid Alexandra of Norway lit the Lillehammer Youth Winter Olympic cauldron to cap the Opening Ceremony on Friday night.
The princess’ father, Crown Prince Haakon, lit the 1994 Olympic cauldron in a very similar fashion (video here). Princess Ingrid Alexandra was born in 2004.
The Opening Ceremony, held outdoors at a ski jump (same venue as 1994) in sub-freezing temperatures, included a speech from International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach.
“I’m just a little bit too old to compete in the YOG,” Bach said, urging listeners to use the hashtag #IloveYOG during the nine-day Winter Games.
The ceremony included Olympic legends, such as 2010 figure skating gold medalist Yuna Kim and eight-time Olympic cross-country champion Bjorn Daehlie carrying the Olympic flag.
Marit Bjoergen, a 10-time Olympic medalist cross-country skier, handed the Olympic flame to the princess.
NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra will air coverage of the Opening Ceremony on Saturday at 12:30 a.m. ET, plus daily coverage throughout the Winter Games. A full broadcast schedule is here.
MORE: Two years to Pyeongchang: Updates on U.S. Olympic medalists from Sochi