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Journey of the Olympic Torch includes North Pole, deepest lake, space

1:10 PM, Sep 29, 2013   |    comments
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KUSA- The Olympic flame for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics was lit early Sunday during a ceremony in Olympia, Greece. The ceremony kicks off the longest Olympic torch relay in the history of the Winter Games. 

The flame was lit using the sun's rays reflected off a parabolic mirror. For the next week, the flame will travel around Greece before it is flown to Moscow, Russia on Oct. 6. The torch relay will begin in Moscow on Oct. 7. 

The Olympic flame will spend a total of 123 days, leading up to the Opening Ceremonies, traveling approximately 40,300 miles through nearly 3,000 towns in all of Russia's 83 regions. 14,000 torchbearers will participate in that journey. 

On Oct. 17, torchbearers will bring the flame to the North Pole on a nuclear-powered icebreaker ship. During that trip, the flame will be kept in a special lantern and a torch lighting ceremony will take place on the North Pole with torchbearers from several countries, including the United States. 

Professional divers will also take the Olympic flame to the bottom of the world's deepest lake during the torch relay. The flame is scheduled to reach the bottom of Lake Baikal on Nov. 23. 

Another special leg of the relay includes a trip on Feb. 1 up Mount Elbrus, the highest mountain in Europe, located near Russia's border with Georgia. Rock climbers will take the flame on this part of the journey. 

The torch designed for the Sochi Winter Olympics is silver and red. The Olympic Organizing Committee says the design of the torch is inspired, in part, by the legend of the Phoenix, rising from the ashes. 

The torch is fuelled by propane and constructed to keep the flame burning despite harsh weather and travel conditions. 

The torch is not handed off between torchbearers. Instead, 14,000 torches were constructed, one for each torchbearer. The torchbearers only pass along the flame and can keep the torches when done with the relay. 

One of the 14,000 torches will also be taken to space on Nov. 7, as an unofficial part of the torch relay, to celebrate the Russian space program. This torch will not be lit, for safety reasons, as it travels in a rocket to the International Space Station. 

On Nov. 9, two Russian cosmonauts will take the torch on a spacewalk before sending it back to earth. This is the first time an Olympic torch has been taken to space. 

The torch relay wraps up on Feb. 7, when the Olympic flame will be presented at the Opening Ceremonies. This year, some select sporting events begin a day before the ceremonies on Feb. 6. 

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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