Olympic flame in Sochi after world’s longest relay 

click to enlarge Olympic Park
  • Charlie Riedel/AP
  • A woman poses for with the Olympic rings in Olympic Park as preparations continue for the 2014 Winter Olympics.
SOCHI, Russia — The Olympic flame reached Sochi on Wednesday, following a 39,000-mile route, the longest in the history of the games.

During the journey, the torch relay reached the North Pole, went to the top of Europe’s highest mountain, plunged into the world’s deepest lake and was even taken into space by Russian cosmonauts. The torchbearers included a 101-year-old man.

The relay generated genuine public enthusiasm, featuring famous cultural figures, athletes and other celebrities, and drawing big crowds across Russia.

But it also has seen some spectacular gaffes, with the flame flickering out on dozens of occasions and, in some cases, even engulfing the bearers.

U.S. picks Todd Lodwick as flagbearer: The United States has chosen six-time Olympian Todd Lodwick to be the team’s flagbearer at Friday’s opening ceremony for the Sochi Games. Lodwick is competing in the Nordic combined in Sochi. He is the first American to compete in six Winter Games. Lodwick was part of the team that won silver in Vancouver in 2010. The 36-year-old Lodwick’s longevity made him the choice despite competing in a relatively low-profile event.

Jean King drops out of U.S. Sochi delegation: Billie Jean King, the women’s tennis great and a prominent gay athlete, dropped out of the official U.S. Olympics delegation to the opening ceremony due to her mother’s ailing health.

“It is important for me to be with my mother and my brother at this difficult time,” King said in a statement released by a representative.

President Barack Obama “extends his thoughts and prayers to Ms. King and her family in this difficult time,” the White House said.

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