The Olympic flame was lit today in Olympia, Greece, a significant milestone ahead of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
During an elaborate ceremony at the Temple of Hera, Greek actress Ino Menegaki, dressed as a high priestess in a flowing white robe, kindled the flame using sun rays reflected off a parabolic mirror. The first torch was then carried by Greek alpine skier Ioannis Antoniou, an 18-year-old who is attempting to qualify for Sochi.
Antoniou handed the torch off to Washington Capitals star Alexander Ovechkin, who became the first Russian torchbearer. Ovechkin, a veteran of two Olympics and a three-time NHL MVP, skipped the Capitals’ final preseason game Saturday night in order to be in Greece. He will rejoin his team in time for the season opener Tuesday night in Chicago.
The torch will be carried through Greece until October 6, when it is flown to Moscow to begin its 123-day odyssey to Sochi.
The Torch Relay is to be the longest in Games history, covering more than 40,000 miles and including 14,000 torchbearers. It will span 83 different regions in Russia, but two highlights will come when it leaves the country: in October, the torch will voyage to the North Pole on a nuclear-powered icebreaker called “50 Years of Victory,” and in November, it will be escorted to the International Space Station by two Russian cosmonauts.
“Just as in ancient Greece, the Olympic Games cannot settle political problems or secure lasting peace between peoples,” said Thomas Bach, the newly elected International Olympic Committee President. “The Olympic flame thus reminds us to be aware of our own Olympic limits.”
The Opening Ceremony is February 7.
Figure skating analysts Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir will host the Closing Ceremony on Sunday night in Primetime on NBC. The team, along with play-by-play partner Terry Gannon, made the announcement during Tuesday night’s broadcast of the ladies’ short program.
Lipinski, Weir and Gannon will commentate the pageantry from PyeongChang Olympic Stadium, which will feature the Parade of Nations, interviews, profiles, musical performances and more.
“Parades, K-Pop, fireworks, costumes, dancing – who better to host the world’s biggest party than Tara, Johnny and Terry,” Jim Bell, President, NBC Olympics Production and Programming, said in a press release.
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It must be an incredible feeling to share the Olympic experience with your twin sister while skating next to one another on the same team. But, how many sets of twins can say they each had a game-changing moment to help their team capture a gold medal for the first time in 20 years?
NBCOlympics.com: Gold at last: U.S. women beat rival Canada in epic shootout
The Lamoureux twins are in elite company as they both shined individually while helping the U.S. defeat Canada in the women’s hockey gold-medal game.
“I’m digging the new necklace I got today,” Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson said. “It is been a dream to do this, side by side. We have pushed each other since we were little and our brothers have kicked our butts along the way.”
Jocelyne, tasked with shooting in the first round of extra innings, performed a highly-skilled maneuver en route to scoring the eventual shootout-winning goal. No. 17 skated in all alone, faked to her backhand as Canadian goaltender Shannon Szabados slipped, then confidently slid the puck into the back of the net.
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