SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Russia gave its highest Olympic honor to two of its greatest champions.
Hockey legend Vladislav Tretiak and gymnast Irina Rodnina lit the Olympic flame to close the opening ceremony of the Sochi Games.
The identity of the torch lighter was the great mystery heading into the evening, as it is at many Olympics. Some even thought Russian president Vladimir Putin would do the honors himself.
The tension built in the closing moments as huge skeletal figurines representing all the Winter Games competitions lit up in the arena and Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” was sprinkled in with a frenetic soundtrack.
Tennis star Maria Sharapova jogged the torch into the arena and started one last relay that ended with the torch in Tretiak’s hands. The goaltender and Rodnina ran out of the stadium, up the ramp and lit the flame together.
— Jon Krawczynski — Twitter http://twitter.com/APKrawczynski
Associated Press reporters will be filing dispatches about happenings in and around Sochi during the 2014 Winter Games. Follow AP journalists covering the Olympics on Twitter: http://apne.ws/1c3WMiu