The torch has been lit, the athletes have been introduced, and the 2014 Winter Olympic Games are underway!  31.7 million viewers tuned in to watch the Opening Ceremony last week, which consisted of extravagant costumes, brilliant projections, and of course, the Olympic flame.

In the past, the Olympic torch was powered by a wide range of fuels like gunpowder, a dangerous mixture of magnesium and aluminum, resin, and even olive oil! And don’t forget about good ol’ wood and fire used back in ancient Greece.

The 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich were the first games to use liquid fuel that became gaseous to produce fire.  In more recent years, a gas cartridge has been installed inside the torch to ensure constant burning, and this year is no different.   The 2014 fuel of choice is eco-friendly natural propane gas that has been produced in Russia (surprise, surprise.)

Image courtesy of Sochi2014.com.

The design of the torch changes every year, and this year, designers Vladimir Pirozhkov and Andrey Vodyanik, created it to resemble a feather of the Firebird.  This is one of the most legendary animal figures in Russian fairytales which is said to bring happiness and good fortune to whoever obtains it.

This feather-shaped torch had quite the journey before arriving at Fisht Stadium.  Nearly 14,000 torchbearers spent 100 days transporting the flame 65,000 kilometers, making stops in the North Pole, atop Mount Elbrus, within Lake Baikal, and even into outer space!

As an added bonus, the torchbearers actually get to keep one of the torches.  Talk about a sweet souvenir!

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  • Stephanie Schott