MOSCOW Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics organizers unveiled a futuristic torch on Monday based on the contrasts of the world's largest country and combining Russian folklore, including a mythical Firebird, with space-age technology.
"The Olympic torch is one of the key symbols of the Games," Sochi 2014 chief Dmitry Chernyshenko told a packed news conference in Moscow's landmark shopping arcade just a few steps from Red Square, with the Kremlin walls in the background. "In our case, it symbolizes the beauty and diversity of Russia."
The torch relay, which starts in the ancient Greek town of Olympia on October 7, will be the longest in Winter Olympic history, measuring 65,000 kilometers, more than 1-1/2 times the circumference of the Earth.
The torch will visit Mount Elbrus, Europe's highest mountain, Lake Baikal and the North Pole.
"We hope it might even go out into space," Chernyshenkohe added.
The torch is colored red and silver. Red is the traditional color of Russian sport while silver is the most popular in Olympic torch history, the Sochi organizers said.
The torch, weighing nearly 1.8 kgs, will be carried by 14,000 torchbearers through 2,900 towns and villages across all 83 regions of Russia.
"Our torch is really state-of-the-art. It combines such incompatible things like cold metal with fire, which is very symbolic because for the first time in history Winter Games will be held in a subtropical city," Chernyshenko said in reference to the Russian Black Sea resort.
"In Sochi you can enjoy a warm southern sea as well as high, snow-covered mountains."
(Reporting by Gennady Fyodorov; Editing by John Mehaffey)