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To promote the Games among the largest number of people possible in the United States, the relay passed through over 300 towns and villages in 46 states. The route included the previous Games host cities, Atlanta, Lake Placid, St Louis, Los Angeles and Squaw Valley.
On 4 December 2001, after leaving Athens the previous day, the flame landed in Atlanta. At the Centennial Olympic Park, Muhammad Ali, who lit the cauldron at the Opening Ceremony of the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta, lit the first torch on American soil. The former boxer then handed it to Peggy Fleming, the figure skating Olympic gold medallist at Grenoble in 1968. She ran the first leg of the relay with her coach Robert Paul, who had won the figure skating gold medal at the 1960 Winter Games in Squaw Valley.
On 8 February 2002, at the Opening Ceremony, for the first time in Olympic history, an entire team, the winning US men’s ice hockey team from the 1980 Winter Games in Lake Placid, lit the Olympic cauldron.