Sochi 2014 Torch Relay braves record low temperatures

The Olympic flame has experienced record low temperatures as the Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch Relay continues its journey across Russia ahead of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

As the Torch reached Yakutsk, the capital of the Republic of Sakha and one of the coldest cities on Earth, which lies on the continuous permafrost zone, the temperature dropped to minus 35ºC – the lowest temperature so far recorded on the Torch Relay.

The Olympic flame had just toured the Ice Kingdom – one of Yakutsk’s main tourist attractions – where it was welcomed by Chyskhaan, the ‘Lord of the Cold’. Torchbearers in Yakutsk included London 2012 weightlifting silver medallist Vladimir Balynets, Montreal 1976 wrestling silver medallist Alexander Ivanov and Seoul 1988 athletics gold medallist Maria Pinigina.

In the previous days, the Torch Relay had visited the Mir Open Pit Diamond Mine – home to the largest diamond deposits in Russia – near the city of Mirny, where temperatures reached minus 25ºC.

In the past week, the Olympic flame has also toured Yugra, the main oil region of Russia, where it visited the Priobskoye oil field – home to the largest oil reserves in Western Siberia. Five of the oil field’s employees were among the Torchbearers, including Vladimir Podgursky.

“I came here in 1988, and was one of the first to begin developing these territories,” he said. “I could not even imagine that 25 years later, I would participate in such a huge event at this field!”

The following day, the Torch Relay reached Khanty-Mansiysk, where Torchbearers included 89-year-old Victor Bashmakov – one of the oldest participants in the Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch Relay.

While in Khanty-Mansiysk, the Olympic flame toured the city’s Winter Sports Centre, which regularly hosts biathlon World Cup events, as well as the 2003 and 2011 Biathlon World Championships. Torchbearer Eduard Ryabov was on-hand to carry the Torch along the biathlon course, dressed in full biathlon gear, while Ekaterina Ilyukhina held the Olympic flame as she descended the Khvoyny Urman ski slope on a snowboard.

“It is impossible to express the sensations,” she said afterwards. “Today I carried a bit of Olympism! Root for us in Sochi!”

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.

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