Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch Relay welcomed across Arctic region
The Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch Relay has been welcomed across Russia’s Arctic region, as it continues its 123-day tour of the country ahead of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
After leaving St Petersburg on 28 October, the Olympic flame travelled west into the Kalingrad region, where Torchbearers included actress Tatyana Arntgolts and sports commentator Yury Gusev. From there, the relay moved on to the Arctic and Murmansk – the largest city north of the Arctic Circle – where it was greeted by freezing temperatures.
Among the 82 Torchbearers in Murmansk was Sanjin Karabegovic, a volunteer during the 1984 Winter Games in Sarajevo, while the city’s celebration cauldron was lit by Russian biathlete Sergey Rozhkov – a world championship gold medallist who was born in Murmansk.
The following day, the relay continued in Severodvinsk, where the Olympic flame travelled in a racing kart, driven by Russian champion Artem Zelyanin, and an all-terrain ‘karakat’, driven by the unique vehicle’s designer, Yury Fokin.
In Arkhangelsk, Torchbearers included British explorer Jamie Pitts – a veteran of several Arctic expeditions – who was invited to carry the Olympic flame due to his affinity with the region.
"This is marvellous that I have a chance to become a torchbearer in this beautiful country at the age of 89," he said afterwards.
After touring Syktyvkar, where Torchbearers included Olympic skiing gold medallists Nikolay Bazhukov, Vasily Rochev and Raisa Smetanina, the Olympic Torch Relay crossed the Arctic Circle, arriving in Naryan-Mar, where the Olympic flame was carried on a reindeer sled – a traditional mode of transport in the Nenets Tundra – before a celebration cauldron was lit in Marad Sei Square in front of an ice sculpture of the Olympic rings.
The relay is now set to continue its journey around Russia, as it visits every region of 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.
More information on the Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch Relay can be found at http://torchrelay.sochi2014.com/en/