Although the 2014 Winter Olympics are already underway, it doesn't truly start until after the torch is lit.
As is customary, the Olympic flame will be lit during the opening ceremony, which is scheduled for Friday night.
So far, the Sochi Olympics have run into problem after problem, whether it's the poor accommodation facilities or poor course conditions for the athletes. The opening ceremony and torch lighting is a chance for the organizers to put Sochi and the country as a whole in a good light.
Here's all you need to know before Friday's grand event.
When: Friday Feb. 7, 7:30 p.m. ET; 7:30 p.m. PST
Where: Fisht Olympic Stadium, Sochi, Russia
Live Stream: BBC Sport (for UK viewers only)
The End of a Great Journey
The path the flame takes to get to its final destination is arguably more entertaining than the lighting itself.
One of the first Russians to get a hold of the torch itself was Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin. The star hockey player posted a photo of himself running torch-in-hand to his Twitter account:
Of course, that was just the beginning.
According to Vladimir Isachenkov of the Associated Press, the path to Sochi was the longest ever for an Olympic torch. By the time it reached its destination, it had gone a whopping 39,000 miles. Of course, with a country that spans two continents, you can't expect anything less.
Among the stops included the North Pole, which was accessed using a nuclear-powered icebreaker. There's no word, though, whether Santa Claus was visited during that trip.
Another highlight was the International Space Station, with the flame carried there by Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy, two Russian cosmonauts.
The journey hasn't been without its low points, though, Isachenkov writes:
The torch relay has been marred by repeated cases of the flame flickering out. The first such incident occurred at the very start of the relay near the Kremlin. A security guard quickly took out his lighter and reignited the torch. Dozens of other such cases followed, drawing mockery and sardonic observations from some commentators.
On at least two occasions, in the Siberia city of Abakan in November and in the Ural Mountains city of Yekaterinburg in December, torchbearers' clothes caught fire but were quickly extinguished without injury. Some blamed the poor design of the torch, which was developed by a factory that manufactures ballistic missiles, drawing jokes about the reliability of the company's main product.
Aside from that, though, this has been an historic relay and something Russian fans can be proud of.
Who Will Light the Torch?
One of the biggest questions heading into the lighting ceremony is always whom will actually do the lighting. It's a high honor for an athlete and one of the lasting images of the event. American fans will always remember Muhammad Ali lighting the torch at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.
Speculation is already rampant regarding whom Russia will select to light the torch.
A report from the Agence France-Presse said that Alina Kabayeva is the front-runner (via News.com.au). Kabayeva earned bronze in rhythmic gymnastics in 2000 and then gold in 2004, so she's a decorated Olympic athlete.
However, that's not why this was really newsworthy. The AFP report went on to claim that Kabayeva is rumored to be in a relationship with Vladimir Putin.
Putin went on the offensive to deny that the gymnast was considered the top option, per the AFP:
"I'm aware of this (the speculation), I was told of this by (Kremlin spokesman) Dmitry Peskov. These are the usual red herrings,'' Mr Putin said while touring a nature reserve above Sochi.
"We have many outstanding sportspeople who are significant and known in the whole world and I am not going to interfere in this process,'' he said in comments broadcast on state television.
Whether or not Kabayeva is the choice remains to be seen. There is no shortage of talented athletes from which the Russian federation can choose.
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