SOCHI, Russia (AP) — One of the greatest goaltenders of all time and an innovative figure skater who won three straight Olympic pairs titles lit the cauldron together Friday night at the opening ceremony of the Sochi Games.
Vladislav Tretiak and Irina Rodnina were given the honor of sparking the cauldron that will burn throughout Russia's first Winter Olympics.
They were handed the torch by Alina Kabayeva, a former Olympic champion gymnast who has been linked romantically with Russian President Vladimir Putin, although the Kremlin has denied it. Other torchbearers in the final group were wrestling great Alexander Karelin, pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva and tennis star Maria Sharapova.
Tretiak was a star goalie on the great Soviet Union hockey teams of the 1970s and '80s, winning gold medals in 1972, 1976 and 1984.
But the Hall of Famer only got silver after his team was upset by the United States in the "Miracle on Ice" in 1980. In the first period of that game, Tretiak allowed two goals, and Soviet coach Viktor Tikhonov unexpectedly replaced him with Vladimir Mishkin in an apparent move to shake up his complacent team.
"It was difficult for me to sit on the bench with the score 2-2," Tretiak said at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010, the 30th anniversary of the upset. "If I played the second and third period, the game might have turned a different way."