To mark the occasion, the flame took to the skies in a specially designed hot air balloon, decorated in the ‘patchwork quilt’ brand of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
Just three days earlier, the Olympic Torch Relay had celebrated New Year’s Eve in the city of Kazan, the capital and largest city of the Republic of Tatarstan, which hosted the 2013 Summer Universiade Games.
In the previous week, the Olympic Flame had toured the city of Bolgar on-board a hovercraft, tricycle and snowmobile, as well as visiting the Republic of Mari El, the Republic of Chuvashia, the Ulyanovsk region and the city of Tolyatti, where Torchbearers included four-time Olympic gymnastics gold medallist Alexei Nemov and Anatoly Ivanov, a former world and European champion in cross country skiing.
"It's very exciting that Tolyatti finally welcomes the Olympic flame and I am trusted to participate in the Torch Relay,” said Ivanov afterwards. “Carrying it is a very big responsibility… and we are very proud of such trust. Standing with a torch here, at Svobody Square, is very symbolic. Here I feel the support of our city, which is located in the heart of Russia.”
The Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch Relay is now set to visit Nizhny Novgorod, the fifth-largest city in Russia, as it continues its journey across the country on its way to the Opening Ceremony of Sochi 2014 on 7 February 2014.
The route has been designed to ensure that around 90 per cent of Russia's population will be within an hour of the Relay at some stage, allowing approximately 130 million residents to participate in the event.
Find out more about the Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch Relay Presenting Partners at http://torchrelay.sochi2014.com/en/Partners
More information on the Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch Relay can be found at http://torchrelay.sochi2014.com/en/
Information on tickets for Sochi 2014 is available here