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February 08, 2014

Tretiak, Rodnina Light Sochi Olympic Cauldron


One of the key moments in every Olympic Opening Ceremony event is the lighting of the Olympic cauldron. The honour, usually a closely guarded secret, is usually reserved for the highest honoured athletes in the host nation's history.

The honour at the  2014 Sochi Winter Olympics went to two great athletes: hockey legend Vladislav Tretiak and figure skating great Irina Rodnina.

Tennis star Maria Sharapova entered the arena carrying the torch. She handed the torch to pole vaulter Yelena Isinbaeva, who handed it to wrestler Alexander Karelin, who passed it to gymnast Alina Kabaeva (who is rumoured to be president Vladimir Putin's girlfriend). From there Rodnina and Tretiak, both three-time gold medalists, lit the cauldron together in a spectacular display.

Tretiak, of course, is widely considered to be one of the greatest goalies in hockey history. He won three gold medals as part of the Soviet Union team in 1972, 1976 and 1984. He won silver in 1980, the year of the United States’ "Miracle on Ice." He never had the chance to play in the NHL, but as a coach he taught a generation of NHL goalies including Dominik Hasek and Ed Belfour. He also has served in public office and as the head of the Russian Ice Hockey Federation.

Tretiak joins Wayne Gretzky (Vancouver 2010) and the entire 1980 American "Miracle on Ice" Olympic hockey team (Salt Lake City 2002) as hockey players to light the Olympic cauldron

Rodnina is one of the most decorated figure skaters in history, winning three straight gold medals, from 1972 to 1980, in pairs skating. She also won 10 world championships and 11 European championships during the 1970s.

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