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A photo of the Olympic torch in Sochi.

Millions of people around the world watched the Sochi Olympic opening ceremony on Friday.

PHOTOGRAPH BY ELENA ORLOVA, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT

Mallory Benedict and Angie McPherson

National Geographic

Published February 11, 2014

The Olympic cauldron in Sochi was lit on Friday—ending a long and successful torch relay—and officially inaugurating the XXII Olympic Winter Games.

Millions of people are tuning in to watch the international athletes ski, skate, and tumble to the finish line. But Sochi conjures up more than sports to many viewers.

The most expensive Olympics to date are taking place amid steep security concerns and in the shadow of a widely condemned Russian law on homosexuality. President Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and British Prime Minister David Cameron begged off the opening ceremony this year, but none explained why. Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, attended, as did many other world leaders, especially from eastern and central Europe. (Read "Putin's Party" in National Geographic magazine.)

Once the competitions began, spectators and commentators turned their attention from  politics to the athletes. There are 98 events for seven winter sports scheduled to take place over the next two weeks. An estimated 31.7 million Americans watched the Sochi Olympics opening ceremony on Friday, and more are projected to watch at least an hour of coverage.

National Geographic asked readers to submit their photos of the games and received an enthusiastic response. These photos were submitted to Your Shot over the weekend.

Carry the Flame

A photo of a ritual dance in Athens.
PHOTOGRAPH BY POLYCHRONIS GEORGAKOPOULOS, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT

Actresses reenact a ritual dance during a rehearsal for the Olympic flame handover. Russia originally received the torch from the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens, Greece, the site of the original modern games. The Olympic flame arrived in Sochi on Wednesday, February 5, after five months on the road. The official torch was lit at the opening ceremony.

Sochi Celebrations

A photo of a fan during the Olympics.
PHOTOGRAPH BY ELENA ORLOVA, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT

Fans celebrate in Sochi, where thousands of people from around the world have gathered for the Olympic Games. An estimated 40,000 fans and 3,000 athletes watched the opening ceremony from the stands of the Fisht Olympic Stadium on Friday. Millions watched from home.

Building Sochi

A photo of construction for the Olympics in Sochi.

PHOTOGRAPH BY DENIS TARUTA, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT

After winning the Olympic bid in 2007, Russia immediately started construction of the site for the Games. But the project soon fell behind and over budget. The area shown here under construction now hosts the Adler Arena Skating Center, the Fisht Olympic Stadium, and the Bolshoy Ice Dome. (See satellite images of Sochi showing the complete face-lift.)

Running with Fire

 A photo of a soldier during the torch relay.
PHOTOGRAPH BY KONSTANTIN SAKHIN, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT

The Olympic torch relay team traveled a total of 40,000 miles (64,000 kilometers) in five months. It passed through the streets of St. Petersburg, Russia, on October 27, 2013. During its brief stay there, it was passed among 221 people. According to photographer Konstantin Sakhin, the event was heavily protected by police and soldiers.

Bright Beginnings

A photo of fireworks in Olympic village.
PHOTOGRAPH BY ELENA ORLOVA, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC YOUR SHOT

A dazzling display of fireworks lit up the sky over the Olympic village during Friday's opening ceremonies. Representatives from 88 countries are competing in this year's event—up from 82 countries in 2010. Included in the mix are athletes from several countries with warmer climates, including the Jamaican bobsled team, which raised the money to attend through crowdsourcing.

The Olympic Winter Games will end on Sunday, February 23, but there's plenty of time to submit your Olympic photos. Check out the new and improved Your Shot website, where you can share photos, take part in assignments, lend your voice to stories, and connect with fellow photographers from around the globe.

Contribute to our coverage of the Olympics by tagging #sochi2014 when you upload.

25 comments
M. O'Reilly
M. O'Reilly

Wonderful photos! Is this THE gallery or are you going to put more up? And the torch and buildings were stunning but what about the actual games? The fans? The athletes?The medals? After all, isn't that what the olympic games are all about?

Beatrice Taylor
Beatrice Taylor

Thank you for publishing non-propaganda photos of the games.

Simple but beautiful. More of the same please.

MACARIO ENORME SARI
MACARIO ENORME SARI

Thanks God. fireworks > seems simple yet appropriate colors > gold colors > work out ...aim for gold (medals)...

Alan Baker
Alan Baker

Beautiful! Thanks for not showing any Cossacks!

Lea Carbonell
Lea Carbonell

Thank You for sharing these amazing photos. :)

BETTY JARAMILLO
BETTY JARAMILLO

Estoy muy feliz de recibir noticias, textos y sobre todo fotos de acontecimientos, vivencias, naturaleza ...  y demás.  Felicitaciones a NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, y a quienes toman las fotos o emiten las noticias....Realmente son extraordinarias.  Muchas Gracias.

ettore ulivelli
ettore ulivelli

stunning photographs. I wonder if we are going to get some videos of the actual games?

ettore

Mallory Benedict
Mallory Benedict expert

Hi Deborah-


We love your image of the Ice Sculpting in Canada and also featured it on the Your Shot blog:

http://yourshotblog.nationalgeographic.com/


Keep shooting! We will continue to post Your Shot photos on Daily News throughout the Games. Use #sochi2014 when you upload!


Thanks again,

Mallory

Deborah Lane
Deborah Lane

Hi Mallory and Angie!

I just had to say THANK YOU BOTH so much for featuring my photograph under the "Your Shot Challenge" category! You would not believe how elated I was to see this upon wakening this morning! I had to rub my eyes and give my head a shake a couple of times lol! Of course I took a print out to have as a keep sake and may have to frame it lol! And just to think I almost did not submit them. Thank you for opening my eye's and my way of thinking in my future world of photography. I get it now! 


Much good luck in choosing the photograph to be published and good luck to all the talented photographers worldwide in this challenge! :-)

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