Screencap via NASA

Olympic torch goes on spacewalk (video, photos)

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An Olympic torch went on a spacewalk for the first time on Saturday morning.

Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy took the torch outside the International Space Station just before 10 a.m. ET, about 261 miles above Earth.

“OK, shall we start taking this symbol of partnership and friendship and good competition into space?” one of the cosmonauts said, according to a NASA stream translator.

They handed off the red and silver aluminum torch, which was tethered, from one to the other at 10:14.

A commentator on the NASA stream said the International Space Station was orbiting above the northern U.S. and southern Canada and made it to space above Africa by the time the torch spacewalk finished around 10:30.

The torch portion was part of a spacewalk that began at 9:34 a.m. and was scheduled to last about six hours. The torch was unlit for safety reasons.

An Olympic torch has reportedly gone to space before — prior to the 1996 and 2000 Olympics — but this marked its first spacewalk.

Here are images from Saturday morning:

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Screencap via NASA
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Screencap via NASA
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Screencap via NASA
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Screencap via NASA
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Screencap via NASA
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Screencap via NASA

The torch is expected to return to Earth at 9:50 p.m. ET on Sunday, landing in Kazakhstan.

The crew that will stay at the International Space Station for six months will be able to watch the Olympics (on a delay), according to Interfax.

source:
NASA screencap

Olympic torch relay visits Russian diamond mine

Canada names Olympic Opening Ceremony flag bearers

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Figure skaters Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are Canada’s flag bearers for the PyeongChang Olympic Opening Ceremony on Feb. 9.

It’s the first time Canada will have multiple flag bearers at an Opening Ceremony.

Virtue and Moir won ice dance gold at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games and silver in Sochi in 2014.

After a two-year break, they went undefeated last season and won their third world championship.

They lost for the first time in their comeback at last month’s Grand Prix Final to French Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron.

Canada finished in the top three in the total medal standings at the last three Winter Olympics, including topping the gold-medal standings at the 2010 Vancouver Games with a record 14.

Recent Canadian Winter Olympic flag bearers
2014 Opening: Hayley Wickenheiser, Hockey
2014 Closing: Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse, Bobsled
2010 Opening: Clara Hughes, Speed Skating
2010 Closing: Joannie Rochette, Figure Skating
2006 Opening: Danielle Goyette, Hockey
2006 Closing: Cindy Klassen, Speed Skating
2002 Opening: Catriona Le May Doan, Speed Skating
2002 Closing: Jamie Sale and David Pelletier, Figure Skating

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MORE: Canada’s Olympic figure skating team roster

Dale Earnhardt Jr. to cover Super Bowl LII, Olympics for NBC

Charles Sykes/Bravo
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Dale Earnhardt Jr. will cover Super Bowl LII and the PyeongChang Olympics as a contributor for NBC.

Earnhardt will spend the first weekend in February covering the outdoor activities in Minneapolis for the Super Bowl Pre-Game Show (NBC, Feb. 4).

Then he will travel to South Korea for the Winter Games.

From NBC Sports PR:

“Earnhardt will travel to PyeongChang, where he will explore the culture, people, and traditions in South Korea, and experience Olympic competitions first hand. Earnhardt will visit the speed skating venue at Gangneung Ice Arena, and through the lens of a racer will view the speed, close contact, and tight turns on the short track speed skating oval, which so closely mirror Earnhardt’s racing days and nights at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Following a recent invite on social media from his new friends on the U.S. bobsled team, including U.S. bobsled team pilot Nick Cunningham, Earnhardt will also travel to Alpensia Sliding Center, where he will test the true speed of the bobsled track and live out his post-retirement dream of riding in an Olympic bobsled.”

Earnhardt, 43, retired last year after 19 NASCAR seasons, which included Daytona 500 wins in 2004 and 2014.

He is now a NASCAR on NBC analyst.

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MORE: Breakdown of NBC Olympics record 2,400 hours of programming