Coolest Things Done with the Olympic Torch
The Olympic torch is more well-traveled than that stupid Travelocity gnome. It's constantly on the move, doing interesting things in interesting places.
It's currently making its way toward Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympics, most recently taking a quick detour into space.
Here are some of the coolest thing done with the Olympic torch over the years.
Fact: The best way to add drama to a white water rafting trip is to introduce an element of fire. That's what turns it into an adventure.
The torch was taken for a ride on the rapids in the days leading up to the 2012 Olympics in London.
Flying High...and Fast
Here's another thing the Olympic torch has done that you'll never get to do (assuming you haven't already done it).
Prior to the 1992 Winter Games in Albertville, France, it was treated to a ride on the (now defunct) Concorde jet.
It was transported from Athens to Paris at an impressive speed.
Passing the Pyramids
The 2004 Olympics were a pretty big deal because they returned to Athens, the site where they first originated. Perhaps that's why the torch seemed to take a particularly scenic route to the Games.
The pyramids of ancient Egypt were just one of the stunning backdrops along the relay. That's right—the torch did more traveling in two months than you will in your entire life.
Zip Lining with a Bear
Noted nutbag/television adventurer Bear Grylls delighted the torch and the crowd ahead of the 2012 Olympics in London. He zip-lined off the Tyne Bridge in Newcastle with the torch, eliciting big cheers from his countrymen below.
Apparently, Grylls was worried about the torch going out during his stunt. It's funny that something like that would trouble him, considering I've seen him drink liquid out of elephant poop and take a nap in a dead camel.
Riding the Waves
Leading up to the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, the torch was taken for a ride on the waves by Steve Webber.
Just when you thought kayaking couldn't get any funner.
Traveling Via Satellite
In a technological display that may seem a little silly now, the torch was actually lit via satellite prior to the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. The flame was sent by a radio signal from Greece to Canada.
Apparently, heat sensors in Athens were used to detect the flame, allowing a signal to be sent via satellite to Ottawa. The signal triggered a laser beam to re-light the torch.
I couldn't find a photo of the event, so you'll have to use your imagination.
Taking the Leap
The Olympic torch must have hit its rebellious teenager phase leading up to the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer.
It didn't get a tattoo or pierce its tongue, but it did go skydiving for the first time in the history of the Games.
The flame was transferred between two parachute jumpers—neither of whom is pictured here.
Eye over London
Prior to the 2012 Olympics in London, the torch was treated to a spin on the famed London Eye. It may be a tourist trap, but the view is unbeatable.
And that's from the inside. Riding atop one of the pods rather than in it, the torch, and the woman carrying it, got the bird's eye view of…the bird's eye view.
Back in 2002, the Olympic torch went underwater for the first time in history. A special formula of chemicals was used to power the flame as marine biologist Wendy Craig Duncan swam with it for three minutes along Australia's Great Barrier Reef.
The flare was created by a team of chemists and engineers, and it had to burn at 2,000 degrees Celsius to generate enough pressure to keep water out of the torch.
Ring of Fire
The opening ceremony of the 2000 Olympics in Sydney was an elaborate awe-inspiring showcase. Who could have imagined that China would put it to shame just eight years later?
The most memorable moment was when the torch was used to light a ring of fire in a pool of water. The ring then rose out of the water and rained down fire from above, with the holder still standing in the center of it.
Climbing Mt. Everest
Not only did the Nepalese government waive the fee, it arranged for someone to carry it up the entire mountain. That lazy torch didn't have to lift a finger.
A group of Chinese climbers raised the torch at the summit of the world's highest peak, three months prior to the start of the Beijing Olympics.
Hopefully, the Olympic torch doesn't have a fear of heights or any sense of mortality. Otherwise, sending it careening down a steep, icy hill in the arm of a stranger could be considered cruel and unusual punishment.
Those concerns aside, the torch joined ski jumper Stein Gruben for a jump during the opening ceremony for the 1994 Lillehammer Games. That must have been one heck of a ride.
Fly Me...Toward...the Moon
Recently, the Olympic torch got an opportunity to do something that Edward Snowden will never be able to do—leave Russia for a while.
It's been making its way to Sochi for a while but took a slight detour into space. The torch had been to space once before, ahead of the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, but this was the first time it was taken for a spacewalk.
Orbiting 260 miles above Earth, two Russian cosmonauts proudly displayed the torch (unlit, of course) outside the International Space Station.
Traversing the Great Wall
The Olympic torch has made its way to the Great Wall of China on at least two occasions in recent years. Obviously, it was on the relay route leading up to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
Just four years earlier, the torch visited the Great Wall on the way to the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
Boating with Beckham
Of all the entertaining outings that the torch enjoyed in the lead-up to the 2012 Olympics in London, one absolutely tops them all. It's not often that I'm jealous of inanimate objects, but it's been known to happen from time to time.
This is definitely one of those times. The torch spent an awful lot of time hanging out with English superhunk David Beckham. He even took the torch for a speedboat ride down the River Thames.