Two of Russia’s finest Olympians got the honor of lighting the cauldron in the climax of the Opening Ceremony for the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games.
After tennis superstar and NBC Olympics correspondent Maria Sharapova brought the Olympic flame into Fisht Olympic Stadium, the torch was then passed between pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva, wrestler Aleksandr Karelin, and gymnast Alina Kabaeva before finally coming to three-time Olympic gold medalists Irina Rodnina (pairs figure skating) and Vladislav Tretyak (hockey).
Rodnina and Tretyak then jogged outside the stadium to the cauldron’s structure. Upon arriving, they lit a smaller cauldron and the flame shot up the structure before igniting the main cauldron at the top.
Russian pairs skater Yevgenia Tarasova needed 10 stitches after her partner’s skate sliced her leg in practice Wednesday.
Hours later, Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov skated to third place in the short program at the world championships in Helsinki.
“We were thinking about withdrawing because after this incident we left the ice immediately, there was a long break off the ice, we didn’t know how I would feel in skates,” Tarasova said afterward. “But when I was asked, ‘Will you skate?’ I said, ‘I will!’ And I wasn’t thinking about the pain during our performance.”
Morozov called her “a hero.”
In Thursday’s free skate, Tarasova and Morozov will be largely tasked with keeping Russia from going three straight years without world championships pairs medalists, which would be the longest drought for Soviet and Russian pairs since their dominance began in the 1960s.
Tarasova and Morozov trail Chinese leaders Sui Wenjing and Han Cong by 1.86 points and second-place Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot of Germany by .47.
Another Russian pair is in fifth place going into the free skate (1 p.m. ET, NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app).
Ragettli, 18, is one of the leading slopestyle skiers in the world. He won the World Cup season title in 2015-16 and placed second this year, in addition to fifth- and sixth-place finishes at the last two Winter X Games.
Previously, Ragettli became the first slopestyle skier to land back-to-back triples in a full competition at the 2016 Winter X Games, according to ESPN.com.