Thursday, December 19, 2013

Visualizing The Winter Olympics - Mapping The 2014 Torch Relay

Source: Sochi Olympic Torch Relay
The 2014 Winter Olympics is only a month and a half away, and the recent news has been disheartening. Controversies over jaw-dropping cost overruns and horribly discriminatory laws have focused a light on the United States' decision to send a snubbingly slimmed-down delegation to Sochi, Russia.

For students and teachers, however, the build-up to the Games of the 22nd Winter Olympiad should be full of exciting cultural discoveries and hands-on interactions. The ceremonial path of the Olympic torch, for example, offers a terrific chance to explore interactive visualizations and trace the geography of the largest country on the planet.

Source: Sochi Olympic Torch Relay
The official site of the torch relay features a responsive map where students can click on each point of the flame's exchange and learn more about local cities. The keenly designed page also offers a history of the Olympic torch and includes fascinating trivia about past journeys in the lead-up to Sochi's opening ceremonies on February 7, 2014.

This year's torch expedition highlights a host of historic moments, including the first space voyage, the first underwater swim, and the longest odyssey ever. The saga of the fire, however, has encountered some well-publicized mishaps along the way, including the extinguishing of the flame on numerous occasions and three people being burned by haphazard handling. For a more detailed Keystone Cops chronicle of the torch's misadventures, check out "Got A Light? Olympic Torch Relay Seems Cursed To The End Of The Earth" from the New York Times.

Source: Sochi Olympic Torch Relay
The Sochi webpage presents a day-by-day video diary of each celebratory moment along the route. It also spotlights an infographic of key nationalistic facts, as well as a media gallery of photographs and quotations. For a more objective view of the torch's narrative, the Maps Of The World page sketches a similar geographic trail.

For more information about the torch relay, check out these articles from the Bleacher Report:
For other tools and resources about using the Olympics in education, we recommend:
By the way, thanks to Cosby Hall and Eric Wilson for suggesting the idea for this post.


  1. It's sad to see all of the trouble there's been regarding the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics already. I'm hoping things will calm down a bit when the games actually begin. I'm still pretty excited about them. I'm a big fan of winter sports so this is always an enjoyable event for me to watch.

    I like the infographic you provided. It provides a lot of unique, informative information about the games and some traditions. I didn't know much about the torch relays. I found another infographic that discusses a bit more about the city and Olympic traditions you may like.

    1. Thanks for sharing the infographic with the statistics about this year's Games. It's great to see all of the traditions that continue throughout the years, no matter the controversy of each historical moment. It's hard sometimes to reconcile the need for each nation to make a principled stand regarding essential human rights, against the joy of honest competition and sportsmanship.

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