2014 Winter Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

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
source: AP
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

Clay Stanley the latest 2008 Olympic champion to retire from volleyball

Clay Stanley
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Clay Stanley announced his retirement, becoming the latest member of the 2008 U.S. Olympic champion team to bow out from indoor volleyball.

Stanley, 38, played in the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympics and was MVP and Best Server at the 2008 Beijing Games, where the U.S. earned gold for the first time in 20 years.

“When he first came to the USA gym, he was kind of a blunt instrument,” 2008 U.S. men’s coach Hugh McCutcheon said, according to USA Volleyball. “At the end of the 2008 quad, he could do so many things at a high level. He became one of the best in the world at his position”

Stanley was one of the older members of the 2012 Olympic team that lost in the quarterfinals. Stanley picked up a knee injury in London and never again played in a major tournament for the U.S.

“We reached a level with my knee that we couldn’t get past,” Stanley said, according to USA Volleyball. “If I can’t be ready to play right now then I’ve got to shut it down. We did everything we could and that’s that.”

Stanley’s retirement follows that of 2008 Olympic teammates Reid Priddy and David Lee, who both made the Rio Games their final national-team appearance, according to The Associated Press, though Priddy hopes to transition to beach volleyball.

VIDEO: Top volleyball moments of Rio Olympics

Patrick Chan plans to retire after 2018 Olympic season

Patrick Chan
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Olympic silver medalist Patrick Chan said he plans to make the 2017-18 figure skating season his last, as expected.

“Yes, I have many projects lined up ahead after my competitive career,” Chan told media Wednesday.

Chan, at 25, is arguably young enough to keep skating beyond the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, which would be his third Winter Games.

But the three-time world champion (2011, 2012, 2013), who is currently coach-less following the surprise resignation of Kathy Johnson earlier this month, is in awe of the jumps that younger skaters are throwing.

“Honestly, just look at [Japanese] Shoma’s [Uno] quad flip,” Chan joked with media. “That’s enough of an answer to just be like, yeah, this is my time. I’m going to leave on a high.”

Chan earned silver at the 2014 Olympics behind Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu, then took one season off from competition.

He returned last year, beating Hanyu at Skate Canada but finishing a disappointing fifth at the world championships after a disastrous free skate. That marked his worst worlds finish since his debut in 2008 as a 17-year-old.

Chan said before last season’s worlds that his performance there would determine whether he continued skating through the 2018 Olympics.

“I’m at a disadvantage now, technically,” Chan said in March. “I’m competing against men who are doing five quads between the short program and the long program, and I’m at three between the two programs. Who would ever imagine that three wasn’t enough for some people?”

Chan remains the best Canadian skater. He won his eighth national title last year.

Chan will make his Grand Prix series debut at Skate Canada the last weekend of October, against a field that again includes Hanyu.

MORE: 2018 U.S. Figure Skating Championships host set