Vladislav Tretiak and Irina Rodnina Light 2014 Olympic Cauldron in Sochi

Alex EspinozaCorrespondent IIIFebruary 7, 2014

Irina Rodnina and Vladislav Tretiak light the Olympic cauldron during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Friday, Feb. 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, Pool)
Matt Slocum/Associated Press

The 2014 Winter Games Olympic torch has had quite the journey since it was first carried by NHL star Alexander Ovechkin in September.

On Friday evening, Russian Olympic legends Vladislav Tretiak and Irina Rodnina finished the deed by joining forces to light the Olympic cauldron, as tweeted by the Associated Press. This signals the official start of the Games despite some early competitions on Thursday. 

The extravagant opening ceremonies took place at 11 a.m. ET in America, but NBC will show a tape-delayed recording of the event at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 7, exclusively on TV. 

The official Olympics Instagram account shared this photo of the host country during the opening ceremonies:

The torch started out with Ovechkin in Greece, the birthplace of the Olympics. Then it headed to Moscow, where it embarked on a cumbersome journey around Russia that accounted for more than 40,000 miles in 123 days, making it the longest torch relay in Olympic history.

Along the way, the torch went to the highest peak in Europe, Mt. Elbrus, and underwater in the world's deepest lake at Lake Baikal. Heck, it even went to outer space aboard the International Space Station (unlit, understandably) with two Russian cosmonauts before returning back to Earth.

Even though some torchbearers caught fire and the flame went out dozens of times along the way, it was going strong on Friday night when Tretiak and Rodnina lit the Olympic cauldron together.

For long-time American Olympics fans, Tretiak's name might ring a bell. He was the goalie during the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" when the underdog U.S. squad knocked off the USSR in the semifinal of the Winter Games in Lake Placid, N.Y. His questionable benching after one period is also fondly remembered by Americans.

Otherwise, Tretiak was a part of three gold-medal hockey teams in 1972, 1976 and 1984. Tretiak never played in the NHL despite being drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in 1983, as he was denied by his government during the Cold War. Still, he is recognized as one of the greatest goalies of all time during his long tenure with Russian powerhouse CSKA Moscow.

Rodnina was also a three-time gold medalist for her country, as detailed by Jay Busbee of Yahoo! Sports:

Rodnina is one of the most decorated figure skaters in history. She won three straight gold medals, from 1972 to 1980, in pairs skating. She also won 10 world championships and 11 European championships during the 1970s. Since 2005, she has served in Russia’s Civic Chamber, which advises the government.

There were also other high-profile torchbearers in the final stages of the ceremony, as tennis star Maria Sharapova carried the torch into arena. Less-than-decorated gymnast Alina Kabaeva also raised some eyebrows as one of the final torchbearers, but she is Russian President Vladimir Putin's girlfriend, which is worth noting.