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  Factfile

Olympic flame to Sochi:
Relaying the facts

The tradition of lighting the Olympic torch originates in Ancient Greece, like the Olympic Games itself. The Hellenes believed the fire to be sacred because it was brought to the people by Prometheus, who stole it from the gods of Olympus. The flame was kept burning throughout the whole celebration of the ancient Games as a symbol of light, spirit, knowledge and life.

The torch has become an integral part of the modern Olympics since the 1936 Summer Games, when the first ever Olympic Torch Relay was staged. Greek student, Konstantinos Kondillis, had his name written in the history books as the inaugural Olympic torch bearer. The Winter Olympics saw the beginning of its torch relay tradition 16 years later – in 1952 at the Games in Helsinki, Finland.

The flame has been taken to Russia’s highest mountain, Mount Elbrus, to the North Pole and even travelled to the International Space Station. на Transportation for the torch is ranging from conventional cars, planes and trains, to horse-drawn troikas and reindeer sledges. The flame will be taken to Russia’s highest mountain, Mount Elbrus, to the North Pole and even travel to the International Space Station.

The design of the Olympic torch changes for each Games, in order to represent the unique features of the nation and city hosting the event. The Sochi 2014 torch was inspired by ‘The Firebird’ fairytale, which comes from Russian folklore. According to the fable, the Firebird’s feather brought good luck in its purest form to anyone who managed to obtain it.

In order to resemble the feather of the magical bird, the body of the Sochi 2014 torch was fashioned in light-silver “chrome,” with its inside featuring deep red – the traditional color of Russian sports. Some sarcastic bloggers were quick to point out that the design closely resembled the logo of a popular vodka brand; but those claims were refuted by the organizers.

Despite being nearly one meter (95 centimeters) long, the Sochi 2014 torch weighs only 1.8 kilograms due to the use of aluminum and high-density, highly transparent polymers. The device’s center of gravity is in the lower part of the torch to facilitate carrying and prevent it from being wrenched out of the torchbearer’s hand by gusts of wind.

The burner section of the torch has been specifically designed to produce a previously-unseen, stable orange-red flame. The construction ensures that the fire will keep burning, even in the most difficult weather conditions the Russian climate can throw at it; Russian temperatures range from -40 to +50 Celsius. For the sake of the environment, a nature-friendly propane gas is used to power the Sochi 2014 torch.

The Sochi 2014 Torch Relay went under starter’s orders on October 7, 2013, earning the title as the longest torch relay in the history of the Olympic Games. Before making it to the Olympic stadium for the opening ceremony, the flame will have spent 132 days on the road, traveling around 65,000 kilometers. The organizers said the course of the relay provides 90 percent of Russians with a chance to see the fabled Olympic flame.

Transportation for the torch has ranged from conventional cars, planes and trains, to horse-drawn troikas and reindeer sledges. The flame has been taken to Russia’s highest mountain, Mount Elbrus, to the North Pole and even travelled to the International Space Station. Engineers ingeniously found a way to launch an open fire into space and bring it back to Earth safely.

14,000 torches were produced for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch Relay by the same military factory that builds submarine-launched ballistic missiles for the Russian Navy. The media said it cost around million. Each torchbearer has been given a device of his own and an opportunity to keep the torch as a souvenir, according to the Olympic tradition.