Sochi Opening Ceremony: Rodnina, Tretyak light Olympic cauldron together

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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).

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE FULL OPENING CEREMONY

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.

Check out NBCOlympics.com to see how the athletes saw tonight’s event in Sochi.

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NBC Olympics correspondent Maria Sharapova was the first of the torchbearers inside Fisht Olympic Stadium. Photo: AP
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Alina Kabaeva (left) takes the torch from Aleksandr Karelin (center) as Sharapova and Yelena Isabayeva (far right) stand by. Photo: AP
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Vladislav Tretyak (with torch) and Irina Rodnina, the final torch bearers, take the Olympic flame toward the main cauldron. Photo: AP
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Tretyak and Rodnina light the mini-cauldron. Photo: AP
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The Olympic flame shoots upward toward the main cauldron. Photo: AP
source: Getty Images
Fireworks go off outside the stadium following the flame’s ascension to the Olympic cauldron. Photo: Getty Images
source: AP
Let The Games Begin…Officially. Photo: AP

Nathan Chen holds off Yuzuru Hanyu to win first Grand Prix

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U.S. champion Nathan Chen opened the Grand Prix season by beating Olympic gold-medal favorite Yuzuru Hanyu.

Chen, 18, held off Hanyu at Rostelecom Cup in Moscow, totaling 293.79 points to win by 3.02 over the Japanese megastar.

Full scores are here.

Chen landed four quadruple jumps in a strong but imperfect free skate for his first Grand Prix title in his second senior international season.

“I got a little tired halfway through the program and started faltering a little bit on the second quad toe – that was a big mistake,” Chen said, according to the International Skating Union .”I can’t let things like that happen in the future. But this is my first Grand Prix win, and I’m very happy with that.”

Hanyu outscored Chen in the free skate, but the American benefited from his 5.69-point lead from Friday’s short program.

Hanyu, the reigning Olympic and world champion, has never won his opening Grand Prix start in eight tries.

He did three quadruple jumps in Saturday’s free skate rather than the planned five, but did not fall as he did in the short program.

Chen has now outscored Hanyu in three of their last four head-to-head events dating to February. Hanyu got the better of Chen at the most important event — winning the world championships, where the American was sixth.

Also Saturday, two-time world medalists Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani won the ice dance with 189.24 points, sweeping both the short and free programs.

The siblings and U.S. champions have now won four straight Grand Prix titles (not counting the Grand Prix Final).

They won by 4.5 points over Russians Yekaterina Bobrova and Dmitry Soloviyev.

The world’s top two couples were not in the field — Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir and France’s Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron.

Russia swept the pairs podium, led by world bronze medalists Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov.

The top pairs teams from the rest of the world — including world champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong — were not in the field.

The Rostelecom Cup women’s free skate is later Saturday.

The Grand Prix season continues next weekend with Skate Canada, headlined by three-time U.S. champion Ashley Wagner and three-time world champion Patrick Chan.

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Rostelecom Cup
Men
1. Nathan Chen (USA) — 293.79
2. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) — 290.77
3. Mikhail Kolyada (RUS) — 271.06
11. Grant Hochstein (USA) — 206.09

Ice Dance
1. Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA) — 189.24
2. Yekaterina Bobrova/Dmitry Soloviyev (RUS) — 184.74
3. Alexandra Stepanova/Ivan Bukin (RUS) — 179.35
7. Rachel Parsons/Michael Parsons (USA) — 148.75

Pairs
1. Yevgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov (RUS) — 224.25
2. Ksenia Stolbova/Fedor Klimov (RUS) — 204.43
3. Kristina Astakhova/Aleksey Rogonov (RUS) — 199.11
7. Marissa Castelli/Mervin Tran (USA) — 170.53

Olympic ski cross champion suffers serious knee injury

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Canadian Marielle Thompson, the reigning Olympic and World Cup ski cross champion, ruptured an ACL and MCL in a training crash in Switzerland.

Alpine Canada did not say when the accident happened or what Thompson’s chances are of returning to defend her Olympic title in PyeongChang.

Thompson flew from Switzerland to Vancouver for an MRI that confirmed the injury.

“I’ll be making a plan with my team moving forward and when the time is right getting back on the ski cross course stronger than ever,” Thompson said in a press release.

Thompson, 25, tore a meniscus in January 2015 and returned to competition 11 months later. She won seven of the 13 World Cup races last season.

Other Olympic medal contenders include Swede Sandra Näslund and Swiss Fanny Smith.

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